By Chere Di Boscio
He got his start as a charismatic MTV host, before sliding into heroin addiction. He picked himself up to become one of the UK’s most astute comics and later gained mega-stardom when he married Katy Perry. Today, Russell Brand has reinvented himself yet once again–this time, as something of a Socio-Environmental Warrior Revolutionary.
But this is absolutely one revolutionary without a party. In fact, he is hostile to party politics, claiming that ‘the right looks for converts while the left looks for traitors.’ Voting is something he never has, and probably never will, do as he believes it’s rather pointless to choose amongst a small group of elite men clearly focused on furthering their own personal interests and call this a ‘democracy.’
But what he does know is that there is something deeply wrong with our system, which is creating outrageous levels of inequality, continuous war and is rapidly destroying the very planet we live on. And worst of all, the corrupt system that has led us to this self destruction is justified, supported and perpetuated by globalised media outlets. He is especially virulent on Fox News’s hysterical propaganda, as you can see from this video:
Although we currently lead lives very much focused on individualism and personal gain, Brand doesn’t think this is necessarily ingrained in human nature; indeed he believes we should all be more aware of our interconnectedness to each other and the world around us.
As he explained in the New Statesman: “Throughout paganism one finds stories that integrate our species with our environment to the benefit of both. The function and benefits of these belief matrixes have been lost, with good reason. They were socialist, egalitarian and integrated. If like the Celtic people we revered the rivers we would prioritise this sacred knowledge and curtail the attempts of any that sought to pollute the rivers. If like the Nordic people we believed the souls of our ancestors lived in the trees, this connection would make mass deforestation anathema. If like the native people of America we believed God was in the soil what would our intuitive response be to the implementation of fracking?
Little wonder then that these myths, these codes for our protection and survival, have been aborted and replaced with nihilistic narratives of individualism, peopled by sequin-covered vacuous heroes.”
Brand tries to expose these ‘nihilistic narratives’ in his webcast, Trews–or, the News if it were True, as he likes to clarify.
In this space, he energetically analyses the news, deconstructing it to clearly demonstrate how corporate media networks reinforce their own agendas via carefully chosen words and images. He also offers up opinions on everything from UKIP to Kim Kardashian‘s butt, and even engages directly with his audience by answering their Tweets to him–all done, of course, with a good dose of humour and charisma.
By rocking the hegemonic boat, Brand has annoyed everyone from newspaper editors and politicians to more conservative members of the public. Most recently, British newspapers have criticised Brand for being a ‘hypocrite’ who speaks out against capitalism whilst enjoying its benefits: marriage to a pop star, living in posh places from LA to London and mixing and mingling with the creme de la creme of the fashion world, aristocracy and celebrities. But the British actor and author makes important, salient points, and besides, he has no problem downsizing for equality: “I don’t mind giving up some of my baubles and balderdash for a genuinely fair system, so can we create one?” he asks. With more people paying attention to calls for change from the likes of Brand, we certainly hope so.