Russell Brand has caused outrage in a recent interview with Jeremy ‘beard’ Paxman by suggesting the world isn’t perfect. Here’s why he’s actually got a point.
Russell Brand is not a politician. He is a comedian, and occasionally appears as himself in films, so you cannot possibly expect him to devise a water-tight utopian super-system where we can all live happily. That is like asking your butcher to paint your walls. Or, for fear of excluding the entire student community with unnecessary middle aged references this early on: like going to an off-license for your post-Fab takeaway.
Paxman attacked Brand for not being specific about his idea of revolution, for not having the answers. However, answers aren’t that important, certainly not for a man who’s famous for 3 things: Taking drugs, having sex with women, and then talking about taking drugs and women on stage. What is more important is that he is asking the questions. The moment we stop questioning, the day we cease to kick the ankles of those in charge, is the day we cease to exist as human beings. How can we sit back in apathy and blindly take in all we are fed by what is essentially an extension of the Bullingdon Club (plus a few others who snuck in a back door somewhere and have just about managed to keep their head down long enough for no one to throw them out yet)? It’s not so much the overarching, large scale ideologies that we find so irritable, it’s the little things, like watching the Labour cabinet trying to buy a pasty and looking in utter bewilderment as if they’ve just been led into Hogwarts for the first time. It’s those things that drive us to apathy.
Brand has a personal wealth of around £15 million so many raise the point, if you care about equal distribution of the wealth dear Russell, why don’t you spread some of it around, eh, eh? For every rich ‘Russell Brand style’ celebrity that raises concerns about capitalism that we are all too swift to reprimand, there are hundreds more that happily live out their pampered lives and don’t give two monkeys about how everyone else lives. They probably wouldn’t even give one monkey. They probably own a monkey. And yet they are the ones that are ok?
Brand cited Paxman’s appearance on tv program ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ where he cried at the inequality his ancestors faced, and argued that this moment should not be ignored, that there could be something learned from it:
“If we can engage with that feeling, instead of some moment of lachrymose sentimentality trotted out on the tv for people to pore over…If we can change things, then why wouldn’t we?”
Maybe it’s because, deep down we enjoy our British cynicism and love taking a pop and pointing a finger at whichever celebrity decides to turn their attentions to a good cause. Perhaps it’s because a lot of people don’t like Russell Brand. Maybe it’s because a lot of people are morons, because, essentially, here we have a man who has said there are inequalities within our current political system, and that something should be done about it. Hardly Das Capital now is it?
‘But Russell’, They cry, ‘how can you complain about the state of the world and still charge £40 a ticket for a gig where you essentially flex your sesquipedalian lexicon and wobble about on stage, giggle and say tits a few times?’ Well, it’s bleedin’ hard not to be a hypocrite these days, even for us mortals that can’t claim the fame that our friend Russell has. Ever bought a Starbucks then moaned about bankers? Hypocrite. Ever moaned about reality tv then proceeded to watch an entire series of Made in Chelsea in one night – despite the fact you were definitely watching it ironically? Hypocrite. It seems unless Brand shaves his head and sits in isolation on top of a mountain – a position in which he wouldn’t be able to make these statements – then we aren’t allowed take any social statements he says seriously.
We need these celebrities to stick up for us, because they have the power of mass communication. The power to speak to a generation who feel disenfranchised and left behind. A generation where the only current alternative to the current three party shitstem is UKIP, of which it is hard to tell what is more worrying: the fact that their entire manifesto seems to revolve around Nigel Farage (rhymes with garage) drinking beer, or that it seems to be working. Paxman may feel he is smashing the system enough by growing facial hair. Brand has grown enough hair already. Now he’s growing balls.
Originally published in print and online at: http://www.redbrick.me/2013/11/a-new-brand-of-revolution/