Rebel Without A Clue: Revolution and the Branding of Russell
With his book having just hit the shelves and it being almost a year to the day since our John Robb’s “Open Letter to Russel Brand“, Louder Than War’s Robert Pegg takes a further look at the flouncing phenomena who is Russell Brand.
Russell Brand used to be a comedian.
He wasn’t a bad one either. He traded mainly on a faux-Dickensian, self-taught, post-druggie, street urchin persona with a slightly shady Artful Dodger type past that Guardian readers tended to swoon over. He was the kind of safe, lippy street kid they could feel comfortable with without getting their hands dirty. He was also a bit rude, what with going on about his ‘dinkle’ all the time.
But then Russell ran out of jokes. He resorted to leaving an old man answer phone messages about having sex with his grand daughter which only he and Jonathan Ross thought was funny and all of a sudden Russell’s charm started to dry up.
These days he fronts a faux news channel called Trews. Trews is a portmanteau of ‘True News’ which Russell claims to be the one True source of, erm, News. This is a great idea in principle. Someone with experience of the media and publishing setting up their own media channel in order to expose the lies and the bias of other media channels is like being on the inside of the tent, pissing out. Unfortunately, anyone spending more than a few minutes watching Trews gets the impression it’s more like tripping over the guy rope and catching the end of your cock on a tent peg before you even get round to doing any pissing. It couldn’t be more embarrassingly awful or painful to watch.
In his regular and increasingly erratic and bizarre videoblogs, mostly broadcast while being chauffeured around town or sprawled across a duvet, Brand doesn’t just tackle the nature of world affairs with all the hyperactive attention span and intellectual depth of an ADHD toddler tackling his first rusk. No, there is much more to him than that. The sex addicted former comic feels the need to constantly ejaculate on the nature of being human and how we are all part of the same consciousness, working together towards a naturally harmonious future that we can all spend together in the eternal sunshine of Russell’s pointless mind This is how the Revolution will be achieved, if we all just think about it hard enough and listen to Russell. It’s with this kind of sub-Jungian mental masturbation that Brand is gathering a whole new fan base, willing to buy a ticket and climb on the bandwagon that neither Russell nor anybody else seems to want to steer.
So far, so narcissistic. That’s all fair enough if you like that kind of thing but now he’s cropping up in serious places like Newsnight, the Financial Times and other broadsheets who all seem to be getting just a little tired of the infantile, infinite jester turned pseudo-serious global commentator. On the Trews channel and other outlets he randomly drops words like ‘paradigm’ ‘pedagogue’ and ‘narrative’ into his self-serving screeds, like somebody has given him a box of Marxist cliche fridge magnets and he’s flinging them randomly at the freezer door. In his disgracefully arrogant performance on Newsnight recently he was like a cross between Julian Assange and George Galloway: a sex-pest blowhard dressed in hipster jeans and hippy bangles. You could almost smell the desperation and patchouli oil.
But that didn’t get him quite enough attention. Brand now declares he would give his life for what he believes in and this is where his true arrogance lies. Because it’s the easiest thing in the world to say when you know you will never have to back it up. It’s easy to offer up your life when you know damn well nobody is going to ask you to sacrifice it, and it’s easier still to say you would die for what you believe in when you are so flaky about what it actually is you believe in. Offering to give up your life from the same pampered platform that Brand occupies is profoundly offensive to genuine revolutionaries and freethinkers living under oppressive regimes that have to wake up to the risk of losing their life every single day, whether they like it or not. Brand’s empty declaration of offering up his life is the crassest of all gesture politics. Think about it, if the glorious Russell’s Revolution ever comes to pass are you going to be stood on the barricades calling for liberty, equality and fraternity side by side with the geezer who was in Get Me To The Greek? I think not.
But the most remarkable aspect about Russell Brand’s politics is how defiantly unremarkable they are. He doesn’t strike a single note of originality. He says nothing that hasn’t been said before, either about equality, capitalism or fundamentalism. That he consistently chooses the path of least resistance is testament to both his own gullibility, the gullibility of his followers, of which there are legion, and the rapid devaluation of his currency as a celebrity. His supposedly ‘open mind’ over 9/11 is firmly rooted in the conspiracy theories of the past. Like all conspiracy theories you can trace a direct line back from Brand to Icke to Shayler to Loose Change. Further back through Thierry Meysaan, through Henry Ford and all the way back to that fabricated meeting in a Prague cemetery as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth. But that’s the thing with this Brand of revolutionaries and conspiracy theorists, they never have to join the dots. All they have to do is make bold statements with the kind of single minded tunnel vision that brooks no dissent and tolerates no enquiry. People like Brand like to see themselves as the lone, brave voice in the wilderness, speaking truth to power. But really, they’re only stood there alone because everybody else got bored and went home. There’s nothing to see here, move along. There’s no radical thinking here, it’s just an alternative consensus.
And that’s the fundamental fault with Russell and his branded, self-sponsored revolution. It’s the revolution of the idle thinker, the gullible fool and the vainglorious. It’s the revolution for people who don’t want to put any more effort into it than watching YouTube.
It’s a shame really. I’m certain that underneath the narcissistic posturing, muddled thinking and facial hair there is a decent heart and soul who genuinely wants what is right and fair, for everyone. Don’t we all? But that heart doesn’t connect to a brain, and in trying to simplify the complexity of global politics, he fails. What he succeeds in doing is infantilising it.
This has been a false flag post. Owned, written and directed by Halliburton. Sponsored by MI5, Mossad, House of Bush, House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer, Marx and Engels, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, the CIA and Haribo.
All words by Robert Pegg. More from Robert can be found at his Louder Than War Author Archive.