I’ve been saying this for the last day or so, and I’ll take this opportunity to say it again: anyone who’s passionate about the exposure of clandestine government activities (read: myself) must feel like every day is Christmas Day these past two weeks or so. Wikileaks has been an impressive site for years, but this time it’s really hit the jackpot.
You ever wondered why those poor people died during a helicopter attack on foreign soil, two of them Reuters employees? Well, point your fingers at terrorists no longer, the culprit was revealed in a video that was one of seventy-six thousand files leaked to Wikileaks by Bradley Manning, a man I can only refer to as a hero from this point forwards. Why is he a hero? Because he, as many other people have since said, upheld the constitution which maintains he must protect his country. And he did, by exposing the rat-like scoundrels running the show.
It’s hard to compare this level of government exposure to anything else. Watergate was largely focused on Nixon – a two-faced failure of a President, but a single individual nonetheless. This time around, there are a lot of people implicated. The responses, however, have ranged from bizarre to nothing short of hilariously dim-witted. Some government representatives have claimed this will put people’s lives at risk, which is nothing short of ridiculous. But my favourite comes in the form of America’s favourite Crazy Politician, Sarah Palin.
Her Twitter account called Wikileaks founder Julian Assange guilty of treason. As another site recently pointed out, quite rightly, treason was not quite the word. Treason, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means “the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill or overthrow the sovereign or government”.
Julian Assange is Australian, and his servers are based in Sweden. I’ll let that one sink in for a minute.
Arguably, the second definition proposes that treason “the action of betraying someone or something”. But who was he really betraying? No one, really, just exposing a government that for too long has hidden behind vague statistics and a “for the greater good” mentality that’s more dangerous than helpful. Of course, all governments are guilty of this, but as America is the country targeted by Assange, and their identity as the “world’s unasked-for police force” is everlasting, seemingly, it’s nice to see them panic.
But what if this hit the marketing sector?
Imagine the exposure of companies like Apple, Coca-Cola and Microsoft, on the same scale. Of course, I’m fairly confident Steve Jobs isn’t the head of a company responsible for a six-figure death toll, but to leak this much confidential information, communication (“cables”, to use the recent governmental jargon for “messages” we’ve had to absorb to follow the Wikileaks stuff in the news) especially, is astonishing. This would wreck most major corporations, and it will be interesting to see how the diplomats representing the USA around the world will recover.
But if we exposed a corporation, would the reaction be different? We knew Coca-Cola released the Dasani water brand (tap water, just less safe – at one time anyway – and no longer as cheap as your water bill), but we all still consume their products – I drank a can of Sprite less than four hours ago. Our reliance on major corporations is becoming more crucial to our continued happiness than our reliance on the government that dictates a lot of our daily freedoms. We assume the government is a corrupt, bloated, power-hungry monster, and we go about our day, most of us, without giving it too much thought. But corrupt companies we do care about.
Now I think about it, I suppose it’s a tad hypocritical of most people to start caring about the corruption and dark side to the United States government, as most people didn’t care as much before Wikileaks hit the big one. The sad fact of the matter is, it took this much information all at once to get most people’s attention, and I’d wager the same would be the case when it came to the marketing sector. Recently, I wrote about the Beatles finally sticking their music on iTunes (I say Beatles, I mean Yoko, McCartney, Mrs. Harrison and Starr), and I noticed that even the BBC was gearing their programming towards the Fab Four.
Does this disturb us? Not one bit, and we’re happy to ignore that little advert for the Beatles on a supposedly sponsorship-free channel. Why? Because it’s easier. Don’t get me wrong, marketing is an essential part of all our businesses, but problems come in the execution. Be brazen, be open, be cocky, but never attempt to distract people from prying too deep into your inner workings. Why? Because soon a Bradley Manning will start as an intern at your company, and within months you’ll be spread across the global news network like a bad stain.
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