By Fabian Hühne
If James Gatsby, the young mysterious millionaire with shady business connections from Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ has a living equivalent in modern times, John McAfee would be the very prime example.
McAfee is known for the famous anti-virus software, which he helped develop in 1992 but then in 1994 was forced out of his own company because he told everyone that the Michael Angelo virus was going to destroy computers worldwide – which it didn’t. He left the company with a 100-million dollar payout and moved to Belize, a small tropical state in Latin America, where he resided in his Beach house with his 20-year-old girlfriend, an obsession with guns, dogs and security guards, practising sex yoga, and throwing more than just extravagant parties.
McAfee had built a Yoga-ashram in Belize, where he threw sex parties, surrounded by financially dependent local girls, for whom he would gladly pay a 150$ taxi bill just to get them join the drug fuelled multi-amorous sex-excess. He enjoyed simple hedonistic pleasures and tried to hide his extravagant way of living by donating regularly to local authorities, such as his million-dollar Yacht to the Belizean coast guard. He spend most of his money earned with anti-virus software on a lifestyle that even James Gatsby would be secretly proud of.
But it is ‘resided’ in Belize, which must be used. Past tense. Because McAfee ran away from his self-made drug paradise and this is where the story stops being an analogy of the Great Gatsby, but turns into a Hollywood-ripe scandal which even Fitzgerald couldn’t have thought of.
McAfee was arrested a few weeks ago on the 6th of December for entering Guatemala illegally after an unprecedented run from authorities in Belize. The Belizean police want McAfee for questioning about the murder of his neighbour who was killed with a gun of the same model as McAfee’s. McAfee and his neighbor were reported to have had repeated fights about McAfee’s dogs, his guns and his strange behaviour. Since the murder (for which he may or may not be responsible), McAfee has been avoiding authorities, leaving his house to hide in the jungle together with his girlfriend and a few reporters from Vice magazine. However, he kept the world updated of his whereabouts through his Blog and managed to enter Guatemala, after his double, who provoked arrest at the border to Mexico, posed as a distraction from his true intentions to seek asylum in Guatemala.
McAfee claims that the Belizean authorities are threatening to kill him because he refused to pay them money and has since been targeted repeatedly by police attacks and random questioning. In Guatemala, he is trying to seek asylum with the help of the uncle of his 20-year old girlfriend. Who, by coincidence, is the best lawyer in the whole of Guatemala. He has modestly agreed to meet with the prime Minister of Belize to talk about his case and is also available for a phone-call from the Belizean police. McAfee and Gatsby may or may not be murderers, but it is the larger picture of their behaviour that unmasks the unspoken truths of their time.
If the Great Gatsby was indicative of the Zeitgeist of the 1920s with its shallow relationships and unappreciated extravagance, McAfee is the metronome of the 2010s. A time where selfish business-owners and self-made millionaires, bankers and investors, have started to act like criminals, neglecting any respect for community, common sense or the law. It’s the time of the egocentric rationalist, who aims at his personal gain regardless of how stupid and arrogant it may look and whomever it may damage. The Great McAfee is a man of our time.
Photo courtesy of wired.com
By Fabian Hühne