intersectional revolutionary journal

Of Sexist Russell Brand & Why the Revolution was Not Televised

By Saswat Pattanayak
Red Monthly | October 2013

Russell Brand’s allegedly humorous attempt at explaining away his motivation for editing a political magazine is not just sexist (“asked by an attractive woman”), it is also inherently elitist. At the risk of spoiling the ongoing “revolution” party at social media, let me quickly get to the point.

Brand’s “attractive woman” fixation is nothing new. Earlier this year, he had called MSNBC journalist Mika Brzezinski a “shaft grasper” for the manner in which she was clutching a water bottle. Commenting on her cleavage, when Brzezinski leaned forward to repair a collapsing table, Brand justified his ogle in this manner: “I’m only flesh and blood, I’ve got instincts.”

One would think such overtly sexist behavior towards a media professional would cost Brand’s career dearly. Hardly so. Turns out, his critics merely call him “lazy” and his sexism “dull”. Instead what always work for him by the European standard of beauty are his “big hair”, “10-mile high charisma”, “look like Jesus” and “lovely cheekbones”.

White Jesus as he is, he could still have a career after the ‘Sachsgate’ scandal. He remains wary only because the broadcast was made, which apparently hampered his image, but not because he finds it not funny that he would have “fucked” Andrew Sachs’ granddaughter. But that reference did not end there. What the media largely ignored was what happened afterwards. In a patronizing manner of a classic male savior, Brand then left another voicemail on Sachs’ machine saying, “It was a mistake… The truth is I am phoning you to ask if I can marry – that’s right, marry – Georgina, the granddaughter”.

The dig at the “granddaughter” did not end right there. Russell Brand then furthers that, “I said something I didn’t have oughta, like I had sex with your granddaughter. But it was consensual and she wasn’t menstrual, it was consensual lovely sex. It was full of respect I sent her a text, I’ve asked her to marry me.”

Just as he out of full respect towards his wife Katy Perry, dumped her via a text message.

This was a while ago. And the Brzezinski episode was a few months ago.

But even farther were his days of drug addiction, that he brings up in his most recent interview to project himself as a revolutionary. Except that he cleverly makes no reference to his sexism, his white male privileges, his multi-millionaire attitude of indifference.

He can refuse to interrogate his “shaft”. And he will be called lazy. He can least care about anything that the masses participate in. And he will be called a revolutionary. Worse, he will say he doesn’t know anything about political alternatives. And he will be called a political theorist. He will say he is “doing a magazine for a novelty”. Novelty. And he will be called an editor of New Statesman to explore the theme of Revolution

His sexism is deeply embedded within his class status. He knows he will get away. By saying anything. His fans will laugh and cheer him. In 2008. In 2010. In 2013. He can refuse to interrogate his “shaft”. And he will be called lazy. He can least care about anything that the masses participate in. And he will be called a revolutionary.

Worse, he will say he doesn’t know anything about political alternatives. And he will be called a political theorist. He will say he is “doing a magazine for a novelty”. Novelty. And he will be called an editor of New Statesman to explore the theme of Revolution – while getting to edit the magazine that will have contributions from David Lynch, Naomi Klein, Amanda Palmer, Noel Gallagher, Alec Baldwin, Gary Lineker, Graham Hancock, among others.

All because, he was asked to edit the magazine by an “attractive woman”. This time, shaft grasper, or not. As he boasts to Paxman in his latest interview that has gone viral, he doesn’t even know “what the typical criteria are” when it comes to assessing an individual’s engagements and empathies, let alone qualifications. But there he is, the expert on revolution. The beacon of hope. The voice of dissent.

Or, maybe just a sexist, elitist actor who could dish out some emotions, much to the delight of the drooling audience, he claims to be despising. The audience that actually takes part in electoral process, many of who do so out of desperation. A greater desperation for social change than Brand possesses.

Brand accuses the people – the millions of voters who are not evidently as smart as him – of having created the narrow “pre-existing paradigm”. So he is looking for alternatives that will be of “service to humanity”. Humanity needs to be rescued by him. Except he doesn’t know of any alternatives. Let alone proposing any. But he still gets to edit New Statesman.

For all those who think Brand is any more socialist than Obama is, Brand plays right into Paxman’s game, and instead of arguing that revolution is indeed the democratic thing to do, or that, the communist societies are meant to be democratic societies, he goes along with Obama cliches

Paxman does not receive any credit for his questions, although between the two of them, he has a more critical and useful perspective. His big question to Brand “You don’t believe in democracy. You want a revolution, don’t you?” is of course outright silly. But that is the sort of question Brand probably deserves. For all those who think Brand is any more socialist than Obama is, Brand plays right into Paxman’s game, and instead of arguing that revolution is indeed the democratic thing to do, or that, the communist societies are meant to be democratic societies, he goes along with Obama cliches –

“Heavy taxation of corporations and massive responsibility for energy companies and any companies exploiting the environment…I think the very concept of profit should be hugely reduced.”

The only difference between Obama and Brand is that Obama is not implementing those words above, although he continues to parrot those very sentiments since a few years now. That, Brand – who owns multi-million dollars properties spread across continents – will even try to “reduce the concept of profit” (whatever the heck that means!), is a redundant question.

For, Brand does not really wish to do away with his own class. Not to do away with corporations. He actually has no problems with the class of haves. It’s just that he wants to tax those who are today richer than him. He has problems with only one class, which he calls the “political class”. He has so much problems with this so-called “political class” that he would not want anyone to vote anyone. What does this political class comprise? Does it also include politically radicals? Does it include the revolutionaries? Are there class divisions within this political class? Or, just like Obama and Paul Krugman, Brand with his $20 million now belongs to the “We are the 99.9%” club while gifting himself the pass into the oppressed celebrity underclass? Well, Brand doesn’t care, so long as he can take a dig at his enemy – the political class which indulges in politics. Maybe that’s not a relevant question. After all, he still gets to edit a political magazine.

For somebody who confuses revolution with taxation, and capitalists with politicians, he wants no government. So how will the corporations be taxed? By “Admin Bods”, he offers. Who are these Admin Bods? Are they political beings? And how will these Admin Bods get there? Again, irrelevant questions for a political theorist who is one solely because he is a celebrity. He need not explain. The onus is not on him. And then, Brand becomes all restless and impatient – much to even greater delight of his fans. So much passion in the revolutionary, and how dare someone ask him direct questions.

So he says, “Jeremy, don’t ask me to sit here in an interview with you, in a bloody hotel room and devise a global, utopian system.”

And everyone gets angry at Paxman, naturally.

After all, everything that Brand wants is a Utopia. Utopia as revolution? Well, Brand has probably no idea how to differentiate between the two. He is already living his utopia. And it feels revolutionary. And here he is being grilled simply because of that?

“You sort of have a go at me because I’m not poor anymore?”, Brand, the revolutionary finally travels Freudian.

….
It would all actually be funny, if Russell Brand were not a sexist, elitist white rich dude who refuses to interrogate his own privileges – including, that of political indifference.

And no, contrary to reports, revolution was not televised.

 


 

Saswat Pattanayak is a journalist, poet, photographer, social justice activist, academic non-elite, and a communist. He blogs at Saswat.com

59 Responses to “Of Sexist Russell Brand & Why the Revolution was Not Televised”

  1. djdoctorda

    This article smacks of pettiness, jealousy, and a forced contrarianism. It comes off as a clumsy attempt to critique a popular figure because, well, ‘he’s popular, and popular things aren’t cool, and besides, maybe if I trash him then my article will be popular too.’ Is Brand a bit of a sexist? Yes, and he’s also a comedian. This doesn’t excuse his off-color remarks (nor those of almost every other male comedian), but it does give them context. It seems pretty clear that Brand well understands that he’s a “brand” and doesn’t take himself seriously. Like most other comedians, he’s often self-deprecating, especially regarding his own ego (the name of his tour is “The Messiah Complex,” for Christ’s sake). And I’m pretty sure he doesn’t consider himself an expert on revolution, but yes, he is a beacon of hope. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s very rare that the ideas he presents are given airtime on major media. You might not like Brand’s brand of delivery, but his passion is palpable, which is exactly why the Paxman interview has gone viral and why it will undoubtedly inspire and politicize a great many young people. Not only does Brand makes revolution sound inevitable, he makes it seem enticing and sexy in a way that Chomsky or Hedges or any other credentialed intellectual could *never* do. As for his shortage of details — come on, really? This is the same old tired argument that’s been trotted out by stodgy conservatives for decades. His comment to Paxman that he shouldn’t be expected to provide every detail of the emerging order is not a dodge, but an appropriate reaction of speaking truth to power. As David Graeber writes: “”Normally, when one challenges the conventional wisdom—that the current economic and political system is the only possible one—the first reaction you are likely to get is a demand for a detailed architectural blueprint of how an alternative system would work, down to the nature of its financial instruments, energy supplies, and policies of sewer maintenance. Next, one is likely to be asked for a detailed program of how this system will be brought into existence. Historically, this is ridiculous. When has social change ever happened according to someone’s blueprint?” In short, I think Brand deserves the support of people who desire genuine sociopolitical change, not the kind of shallow and sophomoric condemnation that I’m sure Brand himself would agree with.

    Reply
    • djdoctorda

      Oh, and there’s this: “For, Brand does not really wish to do away with his own class. Not to do away with corporations. He actually has no problems with the class of haves.” Where in in this interview — or any interview — does he say that, or even imply it? Nowhere, because it was pulled right out of the author’s arse. For the record, Brand has expressed many times his boredom with wealth and fame and communicated his deeper humanitarian impulses. You may not think him earnest, but he’s not exactly kissing up to the 1 percent, now is he? Clearly, he feels a deeper affiliation with his working class roots.

      Reply
      • Paul

        Yes he is sucking up to the 1%, literally; he’s dating Jemima Khan, close relation of the Rothschilds.

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      • Fiendish

        Great response. I was really torn by the Brand interview. On the one hand, it was great to hear a figure in the public eye publicly calling for Socialism and saying what he really felt. On the other hand, despite his articulacy, the fact it was him kind of damaged it for me. Essentially: do we take him seriously? It’s Russell Brand, a Comedian. Also, the fact it WAS a comedian, famous for his sexism, shagging, and the Sachsgate scandal makes it easy for the right to dismiss his ideas. Sure, such attacks are ad hominem and thus logical fallacies, but they’re nevertheless powerful in the battle for public opinion. So many of the attacks in this article are ad hominem too: just look at the title! Brand dumped Katy Perry via text.. So? are his arguments then null and void? You may think this makes him a sexist, maybe it does, but I think it just makes him look like an arsehole (it’s not ‘sexist’ if a man dumps another man by text is it? I couls accuse Saswat of being heteronormative here…). The point about identifying his privilege in the article: I agree with this but, really, could he have achieved this in a very short interview? I think Saswat set the bar too high.

        I am glad you picked up on this article’s ridiculous bizarrely conservative/reactionary response about not having a solid idea of this ‘Utopian’ society (which you highlighted with the very Graber quote I was grasping for). Brand isn’t a political theorist. He doesn’t pretend to be. He’s just saying what he thinks. It’s bizarre: this article could be right out of the Telegraph (or Mail) bar the sexism angle. Just because Brand may be a twat or a sexist (I’m on the fence with this one) doesn’t mean his views in other areas are wrong. The one, quite awful line about an ‘attractive woman’ is part of his (problematic) image. Whatever you think about it, it doesn’t immediately undermine everything else he says. I DO NOT justify or apologise for Brand’s sexism. That opening remark was sexist yes, but that wasn’t part of his argument.The ideas or views he expressed following that were not sexist (although who am I to define it?)

        What I find odd about the criticisms of Brand is that they’re contradictory: ‘he’s just a comedian, what’s he doing talking about politics, we shouldn’t take him seriously’ – while devoting several column inches to him – while also THEN taking apart his views ‘but he gives no credible reason as to how this society would function’. So, his ideas shouldn’t be taken seriously but energy is expended taking them apart? Hmmm.

        The twitter/facebook and social media response to the interview suggests a huge number of people share these (admittedly not particularly robust) ideas. People who may not have a thorough grounding in Marxist or Leftist ideology. People who feel disillusioned with, and unrepresented by, the current Neo-Liberal consensus but perhaps can’t quite articulate why. Brand is not saying that he is a revolutionary or that he has the ideas or that he should represent these people: he is merely asking ‘who does?’

        Reply
      • qvaken

        “Brand has expressed many times his boredom with wealth and fame…” Exactly. So Brand just kind of feels like trying something different seeing as he now has the means to do whatever he wants. Don’t get me wrong – it would be fantastic if he were to become a genuine ally – but I sincerely doubt that that’s going to be the case. He’s already stepped in out of nowhere to tell activists that we’re doing it all wrong, and he’s stepped up as the spokesperson for a movement that he knows nothing about. That is pure arrogance and entitlement. I honestly hope he goes away, sooner rather than later, because not only is he stomping over an existing movement where people have done a lot of work to get to where they are and to make gains for other people, but the fact that he’s as misogynistic and womanising as he is spells extremely bad news for women in the movement, when the left already has a history of providing a dangerous space for women as it is.

        Reply
    • Tim Hjersted

      I would second this comment. Let’s spend more time building up and using this moment in a positive way than tearing this moment down. He is a comedian so he’s going to make off-color jokes because that makes people laugh and the ‘wrongness’ of a statement is usually what makes people laugh.

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      • C

        http://www.honisoit.com/2013/04/no-laughing-matter/

        “In both studies, men exposed to sexist jokes were more likely to sympathise with the actions of the rapist. The Current Research article also revealed that this tendency extended to other areas; groups exposed to sexist jokes were more likely to blame the victim, to consider rape a less serious offence, and to recommend shorter jail sentences.”

        Reply
    • qvaken

      How do you feel that this article is somehow less coherent and less political than what Brand had to say? You’re correct that nobody should have to provide an exact blueprint of their plan and what the world will look like once their plan has been carried out – that’s unreasonable and unhelpful – but Brand barely knew what he was talking about. He couldn’t coherently describe the basics of what is going wrong with the system, what people really need or what steps we might be able to take to achieve the kind of system that would be better for most people – well, he came up with a small list of proposed solutions, apparently on the spot, when the interviewer insisted. He was very confusing and incoherent, and I suspect that a lot of people have jumped on board to support him because they like him, rather than because they feel he has a great analysis and an excellent plan.

      Reply
      • laurakolnick

        I don’t think people loved it so much because of any of that. I think he articulated a long felt frustration with many people who feel on some level disenfranchised. He voiced that. He didn’t (i think) claim to be an expert political analyist. He just stated his opinion and stance, which everyone should feel free and indeed encouraged to do, despite not being perfect. None of us are perfect. It is all well and good to keep convo going, critique what we each say, but i didn’t find this article very inspiring.

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      • bill

        Again, what positive social change has been realized through design??

        i honestly think he perfectly describes what is wrong with our society – PEOPLES ATTITUDES – in other words, we (as a collective) are the problem, which we would never accept if it was told to us like that. the jokes and apparent misogyny is a call to attention so to speak, and the ideas come after. From my point of view he is an artist, and the best artists (arguably) never put their ideas at the forefront of the work, the work guides the viewer to the point of it, which they can take however they like.

        Now back to the point about attitudes. Brand never says ‘the system is wrong’ and never gives solid points because he understands that its not one part of the system. When a lot of people are looking for clear points they want someone to say “x is the problem and it is the whole problem”. they see the problem as mystical and confusing and they expect a simple answer to ‘demystify’ them, but this is not the case. think “i am not the problem, my mate Jane is not the problem but collectively we are the problem” and a simple mind might be mistaken into thinking I’m contradicting myself. even if i am wrong about the ‘problem’, i am not wrong about both problem and solution being incredibly complex and intertwined.

        Instead Brand tries to use words and concepts to inspire and empower people, because it is VERY likely that our collective attitudes are the problem, and the way to change that is to not set out a blueprint for change, but rather inspire people. A blueprint doesn’t inspire, only provides structure for inspiration to fit within. Brand is not trying to tell people what to do, or lead them to water, he’s telling us that he knows there is an oasis somewhere to the north of here, but he doesn’t know exactly where, and if we walk with him, just maybe we’ll find it. if we take the desert and oasis metaphor further, then he is essentially saying “why aren’t you looking for that oasis? do you really think this desert is all the water the world has to offer? why do you never look to the horizons and wonder whats over it?”. this is a much more effective (if less accurate) way of communicating a message then cold political discourse or Marxism posters and seminars. notice that every time the interviewers would intentionally exclude him from conversation he would be loud, crack a joke, and instantly the focus is on him. He knows how to build and hold attention.

        also, he is abstaining from giving a name to what he is saying. names encourage -isms and close off ideas. it seems he is deliberately leaving it open, pretty much admitting that he does not have all the answers. The conversations lead to an exchange of ideas rather then a pissing contest between ideals. (though far too often its the scholars, and not the thinkers, that put labels on ideas, like one would fence of a piece of land)

        Brand is a guy who knows how to get through to people on an emotional level. It’s why he has been successful as a comedian, and why he is in the entertainment industry. It is also why he is a perfect catalyst for actual social change.

        people want the steps, just like i want a cigarette, but just like the cigarette, the steps aren’t going to help anyone, and in fact will be detrimental, as we discuss the finer points endlessly, else our ideal (modern day deity i guess) should fail and we be made the fools. Fact is, though he may not be the best analyst, and he may or may not have an excellent plan, he definitely resonates and empowers people whom the political movement are yet to inspire.

        Reply
        • bill

          i should add, the interview where he was being intentionally excluded was NOT the paxman one

          Reply
    • Charles Johnson

      Thanks for writing so much good stuff for the author to ignore, as the choirs of correct cadres berate Brand for, well, what you said. The first thing the author wants to communize is Popularity, never mind what a joke it makes of women in general we women complain that most women like a man that some women and men find “sexist” … once women vanquish the “sexism” of L’Oreal, and Cover Girl ad nauseum, they can move in to Jimmy Choo or whatever. Too be fair-ish, i’m also amused by “progressive” or “revolutionary” men who support the farce of fashion and such.

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    • Saswat Pattanayak

      @djdoctorda: Thank you for quoting Graeber but, no one was demanding Brand to produce a “blueprint”. He provided it himself – over 4000 words of it, which comprised his New Statesman editorial, which he was defending at the BBC interview. Whether that essay was written by the same man is another story, but quite clearly, I disagree with that recipe entirely, and many others do too. But looks like, the dialectical engagement is not something his fans are interested in, after all. They would rather call anyone challenging the core politics (yes, sexism is politics too, not to mention his philosophically anti-materialistic position) in Brand as “jealous”, “clumsy”, “petty”.

      And, regarding the class society endorsement, it did not come from the “author’s arse” as you point out. As you may notice, I have directly quoted him on the corporate taxation proposal, where his and Mr. Obama’s views do not vary very much. Communists or even anarchists would tend to view the solution differently. It is one thing to demand for elimination of private corporations, and quite another to say higher taxation is the way to go – that essentially distinguishes a radical from a liberal.

      My apologies for the delay in responding back to you. I have been grappling with the attacks – of various sorts – from Mr. Brand’s fans. It has been quite overwhelming. The manner in which a sexist pig can be defended by those who claim themselves to be revolutionaries is quite a revelation. Although the SWP debates are still fresh on mind.

      Reply
      • Dan

        Can we please define “sexist” and use specifics to argue why the mentioned examples of Brand’s sexism are, in fact, sexist? I watched the clips of the first two examples and they don’t really strike me as sexist. More like flirting. The subjects if the remarks certainly dont appear to be offended. “Petty” is definitely the word that comes to mind with this Andea Peyser-like attack.

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        • Sarah T

          OK, Dan.. I guess this can be a teaching moment. I’ve seen Brand many, many times in interviews on TV (I am a fan). He almost always sexualizes (by his comments/attitude) the woman he encounters. This is called “objectification.” And speaking as a woman, it hurts. It creates shame in woman (myself included).. It gives the message that our worth is solely defined by what we look like, and our “desirability” to men on a sexual level. It diminishes our humanity. And many times, it’s just plain creepy.

          But I really, really want to stay away from an intellectual conversation (or argument) about this. What you really need to know is, IT HURTS. Just like racism shames/hurts (among other things) people of color.

          I think if Russel really got that, he’d stop, because I don’t believe that he wants to contribute to the hurt in this world. I think he has a blind spot here – a big one, seeing that woman are half the population.

          Brand is also an admitted sex addict. I have to say that, despite this, I do like him, and have compassion for him because of his childhood abuse issues.. I read his book – and I think I remember reading that his father would give him, as a baby/small boy, pornography to keep him occupied.. Is it any wonder that he’s a sex addict and that sexualizes woman? And probably himself, as well.

          I do not believe that all men with sexist attitudes are sex addicts..
          And I do not want to give Russel a pass on this, either. But as a person who was abused as a kid myself, and the fact that he’s addressed his other addictions and is obviously striving for personal growth, I have hope for him. Ultimately, I really wish him well -and continued growth and healing.

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    • Sarah T

      Well, I actually like Brand.. I’m rooting for him. I think he’s brilliant in some ways -and I really identify with him around being brought up poor. But he has MUCH work to do around the sexiest attitudes… Really, if he were to tackle that and make some honest progress, I’d like, trust and listen more to what he has to say about world issues.

      This person is an admitted sex addict – you’d think his sponsor (if he has one) would be calling him out on this. Does he even get, on any level, that he reduces the woman he encounters to objects – and thereby diminishes their humanity? Really, it’s not funny. It’s actually old and boring.

      If I could talk to him, this is what I might say:

      Russel, if you saw another human being reduced to an object in another way, you’d probably be all over it.. You’ve got a big blind spot here. I’d like to ask, what other things need healing/addressing in you around this issue? What unhealed part of you thinks this is OK? Why the hostility towards women? If you want to talk about the worlds ills – you’ve got to address this within yourself first, or you’re just another hypocrite.

      Why not do a show on this? Get a bunch of woman together and talk to them. And not necessarily outspoken feminists, but just regular women who are affected by sexist attitudes.. Hear how painful it is to be on the receiving end of sexism.. Because that’s the bottom line -sexism creates pain and shame for people in the world. Do you really want to be a part of that?

      Ideally of course, get yourself a good therapist. 🙂

      Heal thy self, Russel, heal thy self 🙂

      Reply
      • DG

        Thanks. I thought this was a really good and well balanced response. I saw his show which was a heady and visceral mix of say raw lust, flippant savant conjecture and a healthy dose of self deprecation. In debunking his heroes in his Messiah Complex show (showing us that even our heroes are flawed human beings) he points out that Ghandi persuaded his wife to refuse western medicine (penicillin – I looked it up) for her illness and died. Two weeks later Ghandi himself became ill, took western medicine and survived.

        Also, though from my perspective this doesn’t absolve Brand, after his show there were heaps of young women (and guys) crowding around him in a sexually charged atmosphere with only one thing in the fantasy of their minds, to be his love object tonight. It was weirdly cultish. In paradox, I think intentionally, the serious underbelly to the whole show was that we should not fall for the hypnosis of the assault, by corporate advertising in particular, on our self images and that we are all beautiful at heart if we aspire to be.

        He’s a complex warts and all bloke, but he is a social critic in the way comedians should be and I laughed from start to finish.

        Reply
  2. Jane

    Brand never hides the fact that he is wildly rich. Was Engels wrong in his analysis of capitalism because he owned factories? So what if Brand is a semen-soaked sexist wanker: he’s right that the current political system is in crisis and voting is nothing more than shifting deck chairs about. It’s this author’s kind of holier-than-thou, mealy-mouthed pulpit-thumping socialism that drives people away from Marxism.

    Reply
    • Saswat Pattanayak

      I have a problem with Brand’s analysis of capitalism and his “spiritual revolution” proposal. His, actually, stands contrary to Engels’ analysis. If you took the time to read Brand’s ideas, you would not invoke Engels. Engels calls for abolition of “capitalism”, not for taxation reforms. Brand is no more of a socialist than is Obama. And he could be worse than Obama – at least when it comes to women, that half of the working class segment – for his sexism. Therefore, my objections to his politics. I hope I am allowed to express those, even if it disrupts the flow of his misplaced hero-worshipping fanboys/girls.

      As regards Brand being “semen-soaked sexist wanker” (whereas Engels authored “Origin of Family, Private Property, and Sex”) we have so many of those like Brand in today’s patriarchal world order that I do not need to be an apologist especially for Brand. Not to mention, especially since he misleadingly projects himself on the side of the political platform that I identify myself with. In my political space, and during these times – in 2013, I have no patience for sexist pigs. I understand there are even apologists for rapists in the British Left circle today, so long as the assaulters happen to be condemning capitalism. To call out on the sexist pigs is not to maintain a holier-than-thou attitude. It is only the right thing to do. I hold people accountable to their sexism, racism, ableism, just as I hold them accountable to their advocacy for capitalism. Please know that it is an active, ongoing process, which also involves interrogation of my own privileges. Simply because someone disagrees with capitalism does not mean that person’s sexist positions will need to be justified.

      Reply
    • Charles Johnson

      Amen, Jane! have you been accused not being a real woman or called a traitor 69 times yet? this author’s kind of holier-than-thou, mealy-mouthed pulpit-thumping socialism that drives people away from Marxism. Sorry so many sloppy typos in my other reply people

      Reply
  3. Les Thomas

    Russell brand has put the word “revolution” on the agenda, which is a good thing and those who want to see change should support that fact. Of course sexism needs to be challenged, but to dismiss his political intervention, which has clearly resonated with millions of people, out of hand is a really thick-headed, wasted opportunity. There are none more pure than the impotent. Self-righteousness and insularity could well be the death of the Left if we don’t wise up.

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  4. MAM

    The author is correct in that Brand’s sexism is a major problem, not one to be brushed off in the face of his decision to espouse anti-capitalist ideas. To be against the violence of capitalism is to be against sexism, and that even comes up in the interview as both men consider women in their past who have suffered at the hands of massive historical economic injustice. Women who have succeeded within the current paradigm have had to negotiate with capitalism, whether in accepting the fact that their appearance will be up for debate, that their work will be less compensated than that of men, that their decision to either rebuff traditional femininity or their engagement with normative femininity will contextualize them as either marginalized or weak, that they will face no protection in the face of a rapacious economic system that colors the culture with its sexism.

    I agree with Brand that, in terms of the revolution, it’s “going to happen”– the veil of our times is being pulled back exponentially more and more. And when this nebulous thing “happens,” the men that will be the most brave, revolutionary, and necessary to the development of a new path will be those who stand with women, all women, normatively attractive and unattractive women, women with children, women who don’t conform to traditional gender roles, women who do, women everywhere, whose voice will integrally construct something vastly different than the hell-hole that patriarchy has established.

    **Look at both the eyes of Brand and the eyes of Paxman when Brand brings up Paxman’s ancestry, and when Brand brings up his own mother and other working class women. He is getting nearer to the heart of things, and if he is going to voice these ideas, we should not only encourage him, but we should demand more, keeping that part of him alive. Whether we like it or not, he is an animal shaped by his class and gender privilege– but he has living memory of disparity, and its accompanying brutality towards women, as well. As an audience we must act as his conscience.

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  5. Chariotdrvr14

    Thousands of people of people do nothing… but you grumpy assholes go after someone just because it’s easy. Because he put himself out there. You’re the ones who are lazy. You live in a rareified world of dialectical self delusionism, speaking a language that only you and your friends understand.
    Russell obviously isn’t a leader of any revolution. He’s simply someone who pointed out that there needs to be one. Something that rarely gets that kind of press. Instead of being glad that someone said it… you snark about the fact that is wasn’t the person you wanted saying it… or that is wasn’t on your own narrow terms.
    If a revolution comes you won’t be in the vanguard. You’ll be at the back bitching about the “revisionists” at the front.
    You guys go fuck off!

    Reply
    • qvaken

      You thought that Brand wrote and spoke in a language that most people can understand? And you think that the people disagreeing with Brand are purely doing it because of who he is, but the people agreeing with him are purely doing it because they really do understand and agree with his ideas – not because they’re fans of his entertainment?

      Reply
      • ken

        Yes and yes. I find Russell Brand completely annoying and was convinced that–well, I wasn’t convinced of anything because I honestly didn’t think too much about him. However, I changed my mind when I read his views about Margaret Thatcher, listened to his testimony about drug addiction, and read his article in TNS. That’s true for a number of people I know as well.

        Reply
    • Pììckel Jönes

      Yes! Get ’em! Exactly. I’m flabbergasted by this crap! Finally someone who the media give air time too–for whatever twisted reason–is using it to speak the truth, and people want to tear him down for it!? Hell, we don’t even need the military–industrial complex to stop us from coming together and hold us down–apparently, we’ll do it to one another! Lots of people in the world have no aptitude for satire and irony, obviously. But many of us do and realize that someone like Brand, who has the chance now to say this stuff and it be televised and broadcasted, who is, essentially, on the inside, is a rare opportunity and something to be celebrated. It seems that some people will accept nothing less than a true and real messiah to speak for us. Well, just keep holding your breath on that one *eyes rolling intensely*. Or maybe they are just clinging to their own victimized identities and don’t want the arguments that Brand is making to be out there and accessible to everyone–only for a chosen, angry and marginalized few. They don’t want a revolution. They want to bitch endlessly and that’s it. Sickening.

      Reply
  6. Otis Occupy Consciousness Bright

    i’m guessing saswat wants to discredit russell because he wants the system to continue as is. apparently the writer benefits from it in some way. no one is perfect, and we shouldn’t expect that from anyone. fact is russell is pointing out flaws within the system that any thinking person understands. we need to build a better one, the first step is recognizing the problem that is what we are doing now, and what russell pointed out. what is really encouraging is people of his privileged position get this. as crane brinton points out in ‘the anatomy of a revolution’ when this starts to happen, when even the privileged start to call bullsh!t on their own class, the revolution is well underway. his talk was brilliant, and he said many things that needed to be said. i’m with Chariotdrvr14, especially their last three sentences.

    Reply
    • qvaken

      …You think that a blogger on a site called Red Monthly is disagreeing with a rich celebrity because they hold a stake in the current system, but you don’t think that a multimillionaire like Russell Brand holds any stake in it?

      Reply
  7. sciamachy

    The Mika Brzezinski comment was taken out of context: The Morning Joe presenters had insulted him by having him on their show without having done the slightest research as to who he was or what he was about. Brand was famous for his double-entendres and OTT flirtatiousness – essentially as a comic he does the same thing as the camp gay comedians like Graham Norton, Julian Clary et al, but with the twist that he’s not gay. So, after asking Mika her opinions about her dad’s involvement in Afghanistan & the formation of Al Qaeda, demonstrating that he’d done his research, he turned his signature schtick up to 11. If they hadn’t wanted him to do this on their show, well, they could have googled him or something. At one point Mika had him confused with former German Chancellor Willy Brandt.

    As regards political alternatives, in Paxman’s interview he says he’d advocate a “socialist egalitarian revolution and a massive redistribution of wealth”.

    We talk about Brand’s privilege, as if he’s always been a part of the wealthy elite, but he was brought up in Grays, Essex, a town built on Victorian landfill – literally a dump of a town – by his mum, and then while she was undergoing treatment for cancer he was farmed out to various members of his family. He only got into Italia Conti because his talent was recognised by the local council so they paid for his first year’s tuition – however by then he was a heroin addict & flunked out. Brand spent much of the next 10 years as a smack & crack addict, with all that that entails. Hardly born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He only got rich when he became famous, thanks to his Edinburgh Fringe show (about his experiences as an addict) was a roaring success.

    Reply
  8. Steve Straw

    Yawn.
    Once again another comedian is derided for being ‘sexist’. Here’s a thought people. Often, when comedians say things, THEY DON’T REALLY MEAN IT OR CONDONE IT. They are playing, and (clearly naively) give audiences the credit and intelligence to know that. Brand was clearly fooling around with his media persona / how he is perceived. I don’t agree with his suggestion that we shouldn’t vote (even though he has a point – same old, same old), yet resorting to the lazy attack of ‘he is privileged, therefore has no right to have an opinion) why not thank him for raising awareness of what’s going on / making it accessible and – here’s another thought, why isn’t there ONE website that presents some kind of unified alternative. Something a bit more than ‘organise, attend demos’ those kind of suggestions are just turn offs to most people.’ A website that lists from small to big practical steps that people can actually (and could and would do). I know ‘the left’ is misrepresented / tainted by loonies, but how about ONE website that presents a reasoned debate / manifesto / suggestions????

    Reply
    • bill

      that central website you talk about exists…in fact…hundreds of them do, hence the problem.

      adding another ‘standard’ is not going to change anything.

      there is no ONE website or ONE leader, there is YOU and your fellow human, and the logic that says “the principle ‘Don’t be an asshole’ would lead to a pretty good life for everyone”

      dont get me wrong, i agree with what you are saying, but i never associate myself with any sort of political direction. my political views often reflect that of ‘lefties’ but i don’t identify them that way, which has lead to lively conversations and howls of agreement from lefties AND righties, and i honestly think this is the way to better debate.

      people are disillusioned with both the political directions because it always comes back to a duality, the very form of idea that creates sexism, racism, classism…left and right, the hippies and the conservatives, the slobs and the prudes, the absurd extreme, and its equally strange antithesis. if we could just move past this left right political mentality and instead assess things not based on their political polarity but on their merit to society

      Reply
  9. NoOneNoThing

    I’m still uncertain if that list of contributors was supposed to enforce your argument or point out the absurdity of the whole situation. Amanda Palmer? Alec Baldwin? Paragons of virtue they are not…
    Kinda sorta off topic here(but also kinda sorta on), but does anyone else remember when Sean Penn tied Madonna to a chair and abused her for like 48 hours?

    Reply
  10. sharon

    I think this article is a bit over reactive. Maybe the media in some aspects claims Russell Brand is a savior/revolutionary, but the media always likes to sensationalize things. I personally find Russell Brand to be hilarious & I agree with what he said in his interview & I am glad he said it if only for the fact that his celebrity status will help his argument reach a wider audience. People need to think about these things & get just as excited about them as he was.

    Yes, Russell Brand is sexist, but that’s beside the point. If you’d have read his books then you’d know he’s been like that for a long time, well before he became famous. I would be turned off by his sexist behavior personally if he were talking to me like that, but it’s not like he’d ever advocate violence against women; he’s not raping women or anything. If he’s sexist towards a woman & she is disgusted by some inappropriate remark or flirtation, that’s her right & it’s his right to be vulgar/disgusting. Although I don’t always find his remarks that horrible because as someone noted he IS a comedian & sometimes his jokes are funny.

    I’m just saying I’ve been offended before by people saying sexist stuff before so it’s possible that on a personal level I could be offended by something he’d say. I don’t think that that makes him a horrible person who has no right to voice his political opinion; it just makes him a jerk sometimes.

    Also I personally find it more offensive when men (or other women) are sexist in a way that says women are not equal to men & Russell Brand doesn’t do that. He is preoccupied with sex to be sure, but to me he doesn’t seem to think women are lesser & I think he believes they could be perfectly capable to be as smart/strong/funny/etc as him.

    Reply
  11. Don'tmesswithRB

    How can he be sexist….he fucking loves women and tells them. He is a feminist…he teaches men how to pleasure women with their tongue. This article is ridiculous.

    Reply
  12. Jason Evers Johnson (@muckrakelabs)

    unfortunate that valid criticisms get lost in this rambling diatribe that reaches to say too much. the problem is not brand. the problem is where we are, that so many agree with his undeveloped, unsophisticated, reactions to real problems. at least brand is bothering to start trying to be more involved. sure he’s elitist, as most any of us are to some extent in the “first world”… the author of this article included. the thing is, anyone with the name recognition of brand should be engaged to do more, do better… not just trashed and dismissed. not out of favor to him, but because he reaches people who are at a similar point in life of being frustrated but still giving a damn enough to speak out… instead of just making their living and staying silent. in the end, the author of this article is fucking up as much as brand is, only on different grounds and in different ways. but in a way, is being just as elitist.

    Reply
  13. justathought

    I just read this till my head bled. It isn’t, for me, a side argument that rb behaves like he does towards women; the more I think and look at the situation we’re in globally the more central patriarchy is to the problem. One sentence stood out. ‘I have no patience for sexist pigs’ said the author, in response to one of the comments. Fair enough, fair ‘kin play says part of my mind, why should you have. I know quite a few people who feel like that and I never question it, why would I tell people to engage with their oppressor? Somehow this feels a bit different, denounce rb all you god damn like as far as I’m concerned, I wanna know the bad stuff he’s done, I wanna be informed. Personally and maybe i can count myself lucky I don’t know many people personally who wouldn’t agree that he has and does act like a d**k. Let’s call it like we see it. Patriarchy produces d**ks. Loads of em. Everywhere. To varying degrees and, for me, varying degrees of lovability. I have got some patience with dicks, and I sometimes wonder whether this is because I’m in the lucky and fairly unusual position of not having been at the receiving end of too much male violenc. My concern is if the author turns deaf ears to the noisy, messy, public, frankly embarrassig ‘waking up’s of figures from our ugly celebrity culture then social change becomes a niche market for those who said their stupid, ‘on the way to getting it’, stuff rather more privately and without the cringeworthy baying public applause. This isn’t an apology for brand’s behaviour, it’s a comment that detracting from the good of what he said could be counterproductive. On the subject that he’s dating a relative of the Rothchild’s it doesn’t really suprise me, like i suggested he’s a d**ck, swinging out around whilly nilly in search of power and satisfaction but dropping some pretty beautiful nuggets of realisation along the way.

    Reply
  14. Hm.

    I gotta say, I really think that most of his act is just that – an act. He uses himself as satire of what he represents. He’s really a very smart person, and I’m not sure that he is actually a sexist. I’ve never met him, so I don’t know. I’m guessing you’ve never actually met him, either.

    Reply
  15. Joanna

    Thank you for pointing out that Brand is indeed a sexist of the worst kind: if he’d behaved like this around blacks or Chinese his career would have been over but because there are so many fellows like him (that secretly admire his conquests) they let it pass…Nevertheless, he does make some points in what he says about revolution, I’d give him that.
    PS. Jesus was (reportedly) blond, I’m sure he did not look one bit like Brand.

    Reply
  16. Angie Jacques

    Seems people really hate the fact that he wants to express his opinion and others want to hear it….juicy bit about him dumping Katy Perry with a text, gasp, and where did this tumultuous bit of relevant information come from? I really need to start watching more Entertainment Tonight or read Us magazine because that really rocked my world, what an animal he is..wink wink

    Reply
  17. Hazen

    And yet here we are…engaging in political dialogue, when we might not otherwise be. That was his only aim, to encourage political discourse. He has succeeded. I think you missed this rather central point.

    Reply
  18. Anonymous

    “Instead what always work for him by the European standard of beauty”
    Go fuck yourself you dumb American. Go lick some fake boobs.

    Reply
  19. Damon R.

    I disagree with your statements and reasoning that RB is sexist. That he commented on a sexual reaction he had towards a female interviewer s says he is sexual not sexist. If she had commented on his ‘physique’ and he had taken offence or thought she was out of place, that would be sexist. If she had taken offence and he had continued that would be rude, if she had taken offence and he had said your a woman you have to take it that would be sexist. We are a sexual society which is something RB regularly discusses in terms of repression/oppression and honesty/change. As part of his state is also comedian he regularly uses sexuality in his diatribes. That doesn’t make him sexist just sexual and ‘thank god’ honest about it.

    Reply
  20. Damon R.

    The other point I have to mention is on the revolutionary/saviour aspect. Why are we dissing one of the only famous people who actually decides to use his position to attempt to seek change. He is obviously not perfect but I feel your needing him to be perfect says more about you wanting a saviour than of him trying to be one. He has a voice so he tries to use it in aid of a better world. If your views are because you have taken offence to his comedic/sexual style, I have never seen him maintain an offencive line after he has actually offended someone, specifically involving a sexual advance. His norm is to apologise and make sure the person knows he is joking and has full respect for them. In your example the only person who can say it is offensive is the interviewer herself. If you find it offensive you can switch off the interview for surely RB can not do it for you, although I would wager if he knew you took offence he would offer.

    Reply
  21. heidi

    An open letter to Russel,

    Dear Russel,

    I love your enthusiasm, I love your humour, I love your quick witted responses to the ‘old paradigm’, I get it. Sadly as a woman I feel excluded by your ideas. I watched your interview with eve ensler (on daniel Pinchbecks tv gaiam program) last week, heres a woman who is in my opinion already living what you are calling for in people. First you call her a ‘little bit sexy’. My goodness how insultingly sad, if you had have said this woman is THE sexiest revolutionary, that may have cut it, you see Im not about stamping out sexuality, thats our great power as humans, Im against what you seem to refer to as sexiness as the ‘outer’. What made her only a little bit sexy? The fact that she wasn’t 19 or 29? The fact that she wasn’t what you perceived superficially as incredibly sexy?

    This woman is trying to PROTECT women from the dangerous and desirous violence that is sexual domination. I can’t think of anything sexier. I know you struggle with that, your sexual domination, you’ve been the first to admit that yourself, I thank you for that self revolutionary honesty, but whilst you vehemently abstain from drugs, you would do well to abstain from your sexually dominating comments. The first thing you say to her is in relation to her ‘sexiness’ not her revolutionariness, and for someone who is calling for revolution, I ask you please, bring your revolution home to your heart and stop sexifying us for the wrong reasons. Call us sexy if we are the warriors of life and love on the planet, not because of the way we look.

    Now, something about that interview really bothered me and it wasn’t just the ‘little bit sexy comment’ the first words that come out of your mouth when you met this incredible woman ( who from all appearances still seemed to like you) but it was the way you were not able to listen to her. You couldnt sit still and listen when she spoke, it was like you couldn’t take your attention of your self and actually pay homage. You’re awareness of her was so limited that you had to do something ( drink water and interrupt, make jokes, generally halt all sense of gaining wisdom from her). So i ask you as a woman, please start LISTENING to us, and i think that will make you a little bit sexy too.

    Keep up the great work, and make it better for all of us, be a man who sees sexiness as strength and vulnerability instead of bodies. See sexiness as compassion in action instead of our looks, our true beauty is our caring about life, not our skin hair teeth vaginas, yes they are beautiful too, but beauty fades, a ‘sexy’- life affirming life- never dies. I believe you have the intelligence to discern this truth and you will find that your sexiness will reach new heights and those feelings of sex addiction will crumble because you too will be liberated from that shallow dominating idea.

    Kindest Regards

    Heidi Threlfo

    http://www.heidithrelfo.weebly.com

    P.s I did feel the article made a lot of assumptions about Mr Brand that were judgemental, and ineffective in helping us be united. We can separate ourselves with criticism, this revolution must be inclusive. Our calls should only be for inclusion and offering the chance for healing. We get there faster that way. But I appreciate your impassioned response.

    Reply
    • DaveBones

      what I don’t get about this sexist rubbish is that it is common knowledge that Russell in his life has found beauty in women of all shapes and sizes. Read his autobiography. he talks about sleeping with women “with tits like bin bags” He loves all sorts of women, he is promiscuous and doesn’t conform to sexual norms but I have never seen him be sexist ever.

      Reply
      • heidi

        hahah you do realise that you’ve just confirmed my point don’t you? -“with tits like bin bags”. Think about that.

        Could he objectify a woman more thoroughly than to sleep with them and then criticise their body! If you think that mean he’s not sexist you need to re examine what sexism is, to save the women in your life from the same mistakes.

        Reply
    • Sarah T

      Amen, Heidi!

      I saw that interview too – and this is exactly what I was thinking!

      Dave, your comment – Oh man, I’m tired. I’m a tired, tired feminist today.

      “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
      ― Martin Luther King

      Reply

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