Russell Brand’s been at it again, preaching that old line of revolution and decriminalisation of drugs. This time Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow got a mouthful for hiding behind a veneer of acceptability and impartiality, as if every newsreader should be wearing their alleigeances on their sleeve and forcing dogmatic views on an unsuspecting public.
In previous veil-lifting efforts, you’ll remember, Brand gave the MSNBC morons a bit of trouble by way of his sexual charisma and lairy posturing over Snowden and Manning’s whistleblowing and even went toe-to-toe with ol’ sour face himself, Jeremy Paxman, on the BBC’ s Newsnight. Now Snow’s had it (though in very good nature it must be said) and everybody from Lorraine Kelly to Bill Maher must be wondering when they’re going to have to have a bit of back and forth with the Grays Guevara (though one suspects Lorraine may be a bit out of her depth on this one… and pretty much anything that doesn’t involve being sympathetic towards a soap star who knows someone who once had cancer or something).
Brand’s latest role as a revolutionary-for-hire/newscaster-bashing heretic is an interesting one, though. In his previous positions – coveted spots including ‘enfant terrible of UK comedy’ and ‘Judd Apatow’s go-to Brit in tight jeans’ – Brand always came across as a kind of super-eloquent Essex Jesus with a sex drive wilder than 1960s-era Ken Barlow, but now he seems to have channelled all of that emotional vehemence into a cause. Fuck me, who’d have thought that bloke that used to make us cackle on his Radio 2 show would become something that, sooner or later, South Park will probably have a go at; he’s a millionaire comedian and Hollywood actor with a cause.
For what it’s worth, I agree with Russell Brand in many ways. Drug laws are a bit mental and there would certainly be fewer deaths and less crime if the current laws we have in place were revised. To boot, parliamentary governance is not really representative of the people it’s supposed to represent and is failing many, but what’s the alternative? When hitting back at Jon Snow’s point that he should perhaps give us an alternative to democracy before telling us not to engage in it, though, Brand was most affronted, arguing that asking him to come up with something on the spot was unreasonable.
Only it’s not on the spot is it? The Paxman thing happened months ago, when a similar request was put forth by the BBC presenter and, as Brand contends that he’s never voted, I would suggest that he’s felt like this for some time. I’m not saying he has to go and write Das Kapital on the back of being pissed off with successive governments (for that reasoning would require me to pull my finger out), but he should probably not be calling for a revolution if he’s no idea what he’d do in its aftermath – after all, not having a contingency plan post-revolution has never historically led to good consequence.
For the most part, though, what Russell Brand is doing is good. More pop culture figures should be less inhibited in having a view and voicing it instead of appearing as apolitical, boring shit-munchers (even if it does mean that people with no notoriety will question your practices on self-published blogs that far less people will ever engage with). Everyone had a pop at Phil Collins for being a mega-Tory and buggering off to tax exile heaven years ago, but I think fair play to him. That’s what he thinks and he acted with conviction in his thoughts. By the same token, not many have a pop at Noel Gallagher for his New Labour love-in in the late ’90s, yet vilify that government and its practices to the Nth degree.
What Brand’s doing can help get the kids interested in how to run the world though – and that’s surely a cause worth fighting for. It can equally only be good for their vocabularies (it does get you girls, lads, look!) and their potential interest in philosophy too. And if he does go and write a 21st Century Das Kapital, at least it will be funny and readable – unlike the dense, three volume original. Long live the popular intellectual revolution! Just calm down about an actual political one a bit, Russell. At least until you’ve an idea of what to do thereafter anyway.