Russell Brand: actor, comedian, Katy Perry’s ex-husband, and now political advocate? The well-known English comedian has recently drawn attention to himself through his increase in political engagement. He has been spewing neo-Marxist, anarchist sentiment through multiple media outlets since October 2013. But the true question is, does he have a point, and are people really listening?
Well, the answer is yes, some people are listening, once again proving the significant influence fame can have in the pushing of an agenda (which is ironic because Russell Brand’s campaign is focused around the unfair positive treatment of society’s elite). As Russell Brand is a popular celebrity who is generally well received, most of his fans are finding some legitimacy and inspiration in his words, or simply follow him out of loyalty.
His ultimate goal is to “produce all sorts of […] mayhem in a lovely positive movement without hurting anyone.” He is essentially calling for ‘equality’ and liberation from the government, whom he accuses of being an elitist group, exempt from laws of society. Brand aims to allot the population with more legislative authority, hereby removing some power from current positions of clout. This ideology is being promoted through Facebook, his website, YouTube, Twitter, interviews and protests. He is also attempting to gain more government recognition through the creation of an online petition.
In June 2014, Brand launched a protest against austerity in the UK coalition government. During the protest he made an announcement, saying that: the “power isn’t there [in the House of Commons], it is here, within us.” This sounds a little too much like an anarchist, communist ideology to make all of us comfortable. However, Brand has definitely managed to gather a following, with the anti-austerity march consisting of 50,000 protesters. Does this suggest a certain naïvety and disillusionment in the youth of today? Or is it natural for young people to explore the concept of anarchist rule, supporting the famous saying allegedly spoken by Winston Churchill: “If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.”
Many of his ideas are popular concepts, already promoted by socialists, such as the promotion of higher pensions for fire fighters, higher minimum wages, and a declaration against welfare cuts. Other groups supporting similar concepts of equality include the work unions, trade unions and liberal and social parties.
These may choose to attach their ideals to Brand to gain public support, media attention, and a larger following. However, joining hands with Brand could also have its drawbacks, as much of the populace does not take him seriously as a political figure and such a coalition may actually lose party alliance.
Brand, however, does not express his call for equality through drawing attention to flaws in government policy and expenditure. Instead, he focuses on the austerity imposed by the political elite. This approach to the issue of equality is arguably juvenile, and it is these immature arguments, along with Brand’s public image (which involved the bad-mouthing of politicians, swearing and use of crude humour to make political arguments), which has denied him the support of many.
Most recognise that Brand’s arguments carry little substance, with his arguments against political figures using irrational and emotional-based reasoning, rather than combating their political goals and ideologies. It may also be argued that it is incredibly hypocritical for a celebrity to attack the unfair treatment of other ‘celebrities’.
However, Brand is planning to gain backing from the trade union and the labour movement to reach a size where “neither the BBC nor this austerity Government will be able to ignore us”. However, it seems that until such gains become a reality, Russell’s ‘revolution’ will not pose a serious threat to the government.