Lizzie Roberts criticises the rank hypocrisy of Russell Brand’s political stances.
The infamous Newsnight interview with Jeremy Paxman and Russell Brand has been bandied around social networks in the last few days, since airing on Thursday night, leading to cries of “revolution!” across the Twittersphere. Before we all get carried away by Brand’s newly found Che Guevara persona, let’s take a look at the irony and downright stupidity of his “argument.”
Firstly, since when was it normal to take political advice from a cheating, ex-addict, offensive-causing comedian such as Russell Brand? His controversial public rants and actions have never left him in the best light. For example, in September this year he clearly exemplified his idea of “comedy”. Brand spoke about the uneasy past of fashion label Hugo Boss, who was sponsoring the show, in regard to their history with Nazi party, cracking Nazi jokes and even performing a salute. As well as the even more infamous Sachsgate scandal, this racked up 40,000 complaints to the BBC, eventually leading to both Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross being dropped from the broadcaster. The scandal involving a “grotesque” phone call to Andrew Sachs, about his granddaughter’s relations with Russell Brand, caused extreme controversy. Though it seems his latest media escapade has led to this all being swept under the carpet, and himself hailed as a ‘hero of the common people.’
Secondly, I’m curious as to whether anyone has read the adjoining article in the New Statesmen, or simply watched the 10 minute clip on YouTube, before signing up to his Utopian revolution? After attempting to read it myself, I could not get past the first 1000 words of the 4,500 plus article, before beginning to see that it was just all meaningless dribble. One of the things that stood out to me the most was Brand’s far-reaching statement that “most people” are “utterly disenchanted by politics.” I agree it is fair to say that most people are disengaged with the parties of today in the UK, but that does not meant they are disengaged with politics all together. There are many ways to be involved in politics in today’s society, which do not have to be remotely connected to a particular party or political stance: signing petitions, joining pressure groups, campaigning or blogging to name a few. The 2011 London riots for instance, though they may appear to have been mindless acts of sporadic violence, are still a type of political participation in the form of public protest.
I could not get past the first 1000 words of the 4,500 plus article, before beginning to see that it was just all meaningless dribble.
Thirdly, I wish to focus on the irony of Russell Brand himself. During the interview Paxman asked him what his “utopia” would be like, with Brand replying “I tell you what it won’t be a like, a huge disparity between rich and poor.” Would you agree that this is slightly ironic coming from a man who has a net worth of $15 million? It is astonishing that he believes he is qualified to rant about the disparity between the rich and poor, and the “disenfranchised, disillusioned underclass,” when he is living a life of luxury. He goes on to proclaim that “profit is a filthy word,” meaning he must have conveniently forgotten his most recent purchase of a $2.2 million mansion in the Hollywood hills.
What has riled me the most about this interview is the hysteria he has caused. People seem to be jumping on the bandwagon against voting, forgetting the successes of our long established democratic system and tweeting in ill-informed support of his imaginary revolution. To quote a few messages I have read in the last few days “so how do we vote for Russell Brand?”, “Listen to the man talk, I’ll sign up for that revolution!” and “he’s got my vote, bravo Russell Brand.” The irony of it all being that the man has never voted in his life. After his tirade over the “broken system,” Jeremy Paxman reminds Brand that “of course it (the system) doesn’t work for them if they don’t bother to vote.” Facebook pages such as “Jeremy Clarkson for PM” have shown up over the years after his controversial remarks or “Hugh Grant for PM after his acting role in Love Actually. Now a Facebook group with 60,000 plus likes entitled “Russell Brand for PM” has sprung up in the last few days, which has filled me with even more despair.
What has riled me the most about this interview is the hysteria he has caused.
Russell Brand may be able to give a list of all the things that are wrong in today’s society, as I am sure we all can, but he does not offer a clear nor coherent solution to such problems. He explains to Paxman that he wishes for “A socialist egalitarian system, based on a massive redistribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations and massive responsibility for energy companies exploiting the environment.” So Mr Brand, when do I get my share of your $15 million net worth?
Lizzie is a second year History and Politics student at Lancaster University, with a strong passion for American politics, equality and good old British sarcasm.