I’ve always loved Russell Brand!
From the moment I first saw him doing his stand-up stuff, I thought he was hilarious. And yes ok, I quite fancy him too! Even though he’s all long and lean, there’s something about him that’s very sexy and that could just be that he’s so funny, but whatever it is, he makes me go a bit weak and unnecessary!
I’m sorry, but he does!
A few years ago, when I was still at the Beeb, there was the whole Sachsgate incident which was totally foolish on his part but even so, blown well out of proportion. I was part of the press circus that was camped outside his house waiting for him to show his face and make some sort of statement. I remember it was freezing cold and I think it may even have snowed a bit but I also remember it was one of the nicest jobs as even though we were all from rival organisations, we all quite liked him and that created a spirit of unity amongst us all as we shared food, drink and loud laughter…while he was trapped inside, going through his own personal hell.
Eventually, he came out as he had to go into the BBC to talk about his future. The scrum moved forward and I thrust a microphone in his face but then went all silly and tongue tied as he looked directly at me. I managed to stammer out a question asking him how he was feeling and what he was going to . He looked down at me and clearly felt sorry for me with my red nose. He put his hand on my arm and smiled and then said “It’d be silly of me to speak without thinking, because that’s what caused all this trouble in the first place.” I walked with him to his car, or at least was pushed along by the rest of the snappers and reporters, and as he got in he said to me, in an almost little boy way “I am sorry though”. And that was the clip that was used on the TV news all that day and beyond and I felt just a bit proud that he addressed all that to me!
He may have got sacked that day but it didn’t do his career any harm. He has gone from strength to strength and now he’s all over the headlines again because he has become a political agitator who has written a book called “Revolution”. I can’t stop watching and listening to him on the interview circuit as although I may not agree with him on a lot of things, I find his passion and the way he talks absolutely fascinating.
He’s an unlikely revolutionary who simply wants people to rise up and take control of their own lives and get involved in their political destiny. He wants to encourage all those who are despondent about economic disparity and make them understand they do have the power to change things rather than believing the media because he says most of the press and broadcasters are run by the rich elite of this country who have their own interests at heart. He says they don’t know what ordinary people care about, which is their jobs, their homes and their services.
As a result, most of the mainstream media in this country have turned on him, accusing him of promoting conspiracy theories about 9/11 when in fact, he makes the point that conspiracy theories only run wild purely because people don’t trust American and British governments. As far as I can see, most of the press commentary on his book has concentrated on his private life in a bid to undermine him. There seems to be very little written about his views on the housing crisis and the issues that affect ordinary people because instead they want to show him as sexually depraved, mentally unstable, egotistical and trivial. And a lot of people I know are buying into that….and it upsets me. Give the man a break!
Besides, by calling him trivial, aren’t the press actually dismissing all the people just like him who have lost faith in the system and want something different? His answer has been to challenge the general media approach by setting up his own channel, The Trews (true news!), which already has hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
On that channel and in his book, he talks about how to run co-ops, examples of direct democracy, drug regulation, climate change, opposing energy giants and various measures to address economic inequality. He wants to bring the ideas of Thomas Piketty and Noam Chomsky, in a way that’s easy to understand, to people who wouldn’t otherwise necessarily come across them. His dislike of power and elitism and his contempt for materialism shines through, just like it did with many students of my generation before somewhere along the way, apathy took over. And that may be why I have a sneaking admiration for Mr Brand.
I get that many people choose not to like him and find him actually quite ignorant on a number of issues and in fact, I’ve noticed in a number of interviews he changes the subject, or makes a joke when his book is quoted at him. Telling Jeremy Paxman last year that he chooses not to vote was a bit of an own goal but to be fair, he wasn’t calling on others to follow his example. He was just saying that he can’t see the point of voting when there isn’t anyone to vote for. Whatever people think of him though, you can’t deny that he has suddenly got a lot more youngsters engaged in political thinking, which is more than our main political leaders have done.
And anyway, what’s wrong with challenging the establishment view? Isn’t that what we should all be doing so that those same leaders are forced to stay on their toes and do the job they are supposed to do, representing all of us and not their own interests?
I hate to admit it but he is not dissimilar to Nigel Farage who has also cleverly tapped into the current discontent with traditional politics. Anti-politics has become all the rage and those in power don’t like what Brand and Farage have to say because it resonates with the public and is creating a buzz. Surely the simple answer isn’t for our politicians to discredit these men but to listen to the public and respond accordingly.
Russell Brand wants everyone to organise themselves and rise up against these politicians but what he doesn’t seem to realise is that the public don’t know how to do it alone and they need someone to follow, even if it’s just a celebrity entertainer who uses long words and makes us laugh. Whether he likes it or not, they are looking to him.
He says he won’t stand as any sort of leader because he doesn’t trust the system. For example, he cites Boris Johnson as an example of the kind of politician that people think they like because he comes across as very funny and a bit of a buffoon and someone who has the public interest at heart. But Brand points out that in fact he is just part of the system, as like most other politicians, his views chime with the economic elite of this country.
Rather than taking on a leadership role, he just wants to amplify the voice of the people in a bid to encourage them to do things for themselves. He doesn’t want to be part of a system that he says is presiding over a housing crisis and making young people poorer than they need to be as they pay back student loans that Nick Clegg, now deputy Prime Minister by the way, promised they would no longer have to take. Brand says people are lied to constantly, while politicians have fun playing their public games of verbal tennis with each other, before drinking together later in their cosy snugs at the Palace of Westminster …and he can’t be part of that.
The point is, he’s taken time to write this book and his passion for economic fairness shows us his compassionate, altruistic, spiritual side which I recognised early on in my admiration of him. And whether the press like it or not, it looks set to be the Christmas number 1 – and yes, it’s on my present list.
Oh, and I still fancy him rotten!