Before his turn to politics I could just about tolerate Russell Brand, but now I applaud him. He has fundamentally altered the way I look at him, from a bit of a waste of space into an admirable political fighter.
After Russell Brand’s marriage to Katy Perry collapsed many people thought that the comedian was going to fade away from the limelight, perhaps reclaiming his notorious seat on Big Fat Quiz Of The Year and returning to British TV screens – but the opposite has happened. The bearded comedian has turned himself into political activist, making many enemies at the likes of Fox News, but also transforming how I have perceived the purportedly funny actor.
The salacious reports of his sexual activity in the tabloids never caught my interest, and his comedy work had always been mediocre at best in my eyes. His role in the Sachsgate controversy pushed me further away from him, as he looked like a pantomime villain in the media’s reporting of the furore. This all changed when he took over the editorial responsibilities at The New Statesman in October of 2013. He floated some interesting ideas, and he showed that he was more than just a walking, talking thesaurus – he had some worthwhile opinions.
…he looked like a pantomime villain in the media’s reporting…
I watched the Newsnight interview with Paxman, ventured onto his Trews channel on YouTube and actually listened to what he was saying. Surprisingly, I found myself nodding along to what he was saying, thinking that I’ve thought, said and written about these very issues prior to finding Brand’s latest career move. Since then I’ve paid attention to what he’s said, how he has been presented in the mainstream media, and – more importantly – I’ve followed how his causes have thrived after being picked up by the former actor. The New Era Estate recently won against a powerful US business, TTIP is being protested against by more people than ever, and the immigrant bashing of UKIP has been held to account by Brand’s online channel.
He was once rather repellent, looking like a caricature of a rock star – living a life of excess – yet his transformation into a political activist has seen him become another flawed human to me (I mean that as a compliment.) He has suffered from a disease causing his addiction issues, and he has been more than candid in his description of his personal troubles when speaking online. He has noted that he, like everyone else, is susceptible to emotive language instead of facts, but he has also shown his myriad of online followers that there is another narrative – immigrants aren’t the source of all evil (contrary to what certain media outlets believe), there is a class bias in society, and the media is flawed, and banks shouldn’t be given free reign.
…Brand’s advocacy of grassroots politics may not be a solution, but it is a start…
Brand offers few solutions – his spiritual ideas and community based hopes for the future are not going to solve the world’s issues – but he is pointing out problems with society that must be fixed. Corporations are running rampant, not paying taxes and wreaking havoc to our economy. Anger against austerity cuts is being misdirected towards the most vulnerable people in society, and the only way people are protesting his through the Thatcher-ite ‘protest party’ of UKIP. Brand’s advocacy of grassroots politics may not be a solution, but it is a start.
He isn’t the new messiah, and his revolution won’t ever be what he wants it to be, but he is fighting the good fight.