Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Goodbye to Russell Brand

Sadly, the time has arrived when Russell Brand and I must part company. Rather than leave matters in the air - my rewrite of Parklife  and  Welcome to the Terrordome did go buck-wild on his ass, somewhat - I'd like to draw a conclusion that reflects not a dislike for Randy Brandy, but my more ambivalent feelings.

Having reached the end of Booky Wook 2 - which concludes with Russ in the arms of Katy Perry as the entire narrative suggested it would - my feelings have not changed about his attitude towards women. The final sequence, in which Russell attempts a threesome with two women he calls 'Curious' and 'Dusty' (the latter designation somewhat racist, in my humble opinion) affirms his commitment to objectification, and renews my concern that his current political posturing is founded on a type of egotism and sexism that is all too common in left wing politics.

In recent days, Brand has scored two palpable hits: a promise to give away his future earnings, and taking on the mockery of his statements by recording a version of Parklife. And despite the chorus of disapproval he has received - mainly on the grounds of hypocrisy - his political positions are valid and an important intervention in a media culture that has not challenged the lazy greed of the political classes. I want Brand to become what he thinks he is: a gadfly on the buttocks of representative democracy.

My hypocrisy is equally bad: I understand Brand's compulsive need for intimacy, and I am sure that I have used obnoxious language to make a satirical point. But I think the last thing that anarchism needs a big man shouting about his sexual conquests. 

I have struggled with how I would term Brand's behaviour. He is
clearly a sexist, since he gives less agency and identity to most of the women in his autobiography than to the men. I consider misogynist a powerful term, and only appropriate when it describes a system that encourages the marginalisation of women. Benny Hill, for example is sexist: the Catholic Church's exclusion of women from the priesthood is misogyny. 

I have made mistakes myself: I once accused a play of expressing supremacy. It was pointed out that the word is cognate with 'supremacist' and implies fascist sympathies. I didn't mean to say that - far from it - but the slippage of language's meaning insists that I can't defend my use of the word, because it was open to interpretation...

I am sorry I wrote that. 

So I don't want to call Brand a misogynist. But his description of his behaviour at the Edinburgh Fringe reads like a deliberate cultivation of an environment wherein women were reduced to a commodity. 

Obviously, I don't believe Booky Wook 2 is a true story - it's a myth about an entity called Russell and has a determined narrative arc of the hero's journey (it's like a celebrity mash-up version of The Odyssey), and I doubt many individual women have come to harm due to his antics. The hatred he inspires in The Daily Mail would have ensured a few more kiss-and-tell stories. They demonstrated that the spirit of investigative journalism still survives in the speed with which they attacked the 'feminist t-shirt' campaign. 

Anyway, I've had enough of him now. I'm sure Revolution will be in plenty of second-hand shops after Christmas, and then I shall look at his plan for changing humanity. But I need a break from the yabber, the occasional good line, the potential he suggests that he is far from fulfilling. He's like most performance art: a work in progress. 

Here's a video clip that sums him up for me. Kicks off with some zingers before descending into rambling. 

Not like me at all, then.

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