Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Brand awareness

Don't vote, create a revolution instead. The British comedian Russell Brand is still getting huge coverage for his cry of disillusion, even though his views are less than original.

Reactions are sharply divided. Some agree entirely with his message that all the major parties are in hock to big business and the wealthy and do nothing for those at the bottom of the heap who're struggling to pay the bills and keep food on the table. Why vote for these corrupt politicians, he says, all you're doing is maintaining the whole addled system. We should create a totally different society where everyone is treated fairly - in other words, a revolution.

But others say, yes, of course the political class is rotten to the core, rapidly increasing inequality and elitism rather than ending them. However, not voting doesn't solve the problem, it only makes it worse. The same useless politicians will be elected by an even smaller percentage of the voters, and nothing much will change. We need to make the system work rather than opting out of it. And where is this wonderful revolution going to come from? Who's going to bring it about? And how?

I guess I'm one of the doubters. I wholly agree the current political set-up is corrupt through and through, but I don't share his rather nebulous faith in some spontaneous revolutionary uprising. It's much more likely that people will continue to curse the present system but do nothing about it except to make sure their own family and friends are doing okay. I still think the answer is for more people to engage with the current political machine and force it to work properly.

One thing I do like about Russell Brand though* is his openness, his honesty, his willingness to admit his own faults and mistakes, his lack of airs and graces. And I like it that he's opened up a really passionate debate about the future of our putrid, worm-eaten democracy.

* Apart from his drop-dead gorgeousness, of course

17 comments:

John Gray said...

I do find him grossly pretentious
A film flam man

Nick said...

John: Funny, I don't find him pretentious at all. Loud, maybe, or earnest, or a bit overbearing. But he certainly makes an impression.

Ursula said...

First time ever I disagree with John big time. Brand is NOT pretentious. I'd say he is the very opposite: The genuine article.

The guy combines an intelligence, a quick wit and eloquence he has me spell bound.

I have watched the Paxo spot, I have since read at least three thousand comments left on various articles following the program (yes, really, Nick - thousands, bloody full time job this has become). Love the guy. Always have. You can't beat passion. And that is what he has in spades. Let's leave aside that he is a Jesus Christ look-a-like.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: Wow, a serious Russell Brand stalker!! I totally agree he's intelligent, witty and eloquent. And passionate. But I don't think he's properly thought through what he's saying.

Nick said...

I notice the comments so far are more on his personal qualities than his political views!

Ursula said...

Indeed, Nick. The attacks on the person breathtaking - not least those commentators who point out holes in his education. And what's him having made money out of his day job got to do with anything?Surely, even (or maybe in particular) a millionaire shouldn't be disqualified to talk for the underdog. Funny - actually no it isnt', how so many show themselves up for what they are. Bigots. Ignorant. Since when can a great looking guy with a gob to match not voice his opinion? Use his street cred to be noted? Paxman and Brand a match made in heaven. Paxman positively melting under Brand's charm and strength of argument.

As I said - and I am on a mission to nowhere - I have been following this right across the media for days now. Reading all those thousands of comments is my time well spent. I have learnt more about mankind and history in the last three days than in weeks beforehand. The way people react - whether they agree with him or not is no matter - is one of the biggest social experiments I have ever come across.

Holds up a mirror to society, Nick. That's for sure.

U

bonsaimum said...

Wouldn't it be nice to have a society where a person can give an opinion and a wholesome debate starts. We should be able to argue for or against a position,without it becoming personal. If we can't agree, then agree to disagree.

Nick said...

Ursula: You're right, all the reactions have been very interesting, from wild enthusiasm to vicious hostility. And especially all those taking issue with his personal background, his lack of middle-class savoir-faire etc. Though I do think his wealth is relevant, seeing as he takes potshots against the wealthy elite. He holds up a mirror to society, for sure.

Nick said...

Bonsaimum: True, too many debates turn into venomous slanging-matches instead of rational discussion of the arguments. As you say, why not just agree to disagree rather than spewing vitriol?

Bijoux said...

Nothing will ever change if all we have are career politicians who tow the party line. The voter turnout is already very low here; not much of a revolution.

Nick said...

Bijoux: That's part of the problem, there are too many career politicians nowadays who've done nothing but work in political environments and are pretty clueless about the sort of problems that other people have to contend with.

Jenny Woolf said...

I must say that these days i feel that the politicians ruling us truly are only out for themselves, incompetent (see IDS) and unpleasant. I may be a trusting innocent kind of soul but it never really seemed that way to me before. Now it does. But Russell Brand isn't my idea of a leader, absolutely no way, he would crumple as soon as put into the kind of situation that politicians deal with all the time. Words are cheap, alas. Toughness is what counts, and I'm just hoping a tough leader emerges who has some principles still left. I do feel that Blair and Cameron have done much to damage what I used to think of as a reasonable democracy. Blair because he was dishonest and weird, Cameron because I fear he is rather weak.

Nick said...

Jenny: No, I don't think you were trusting and innocent, politicians really were different when we were younger. Well, look at what Clement Attlee achieved. I agree, if Russell Brand was put under everyday governmental pressure, he would crumble, but then he doesn't pretend to be a political heavyweight.

Blair and Cameron between them have a lot to answer for. They're both mesmerised by big business and wealth.

Rummuser said...

We too are having our own unfolding drama with a non establishment backwoods man suddenly posing a threat to the establishment. He is sharply divisive and the next few months when some states and the center go for elections should be very interesting to watch.

Our democracy is no better if it is of any solace Nick.

Nick said...

Ramana: Interesting. Sounds a bit like our Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party. He's gathering a lot of votes and really putting the wind up the big parties.

Liz said...

I'm with you, Nick. We have to stick with this system until we can change it. Me not voting will only open the door a little more to an extremist.

Nick said...

Liz: Russell Brand's idea of revolution is so vague and woolly it really doesn't take us anywhere. And yes, extremists will get in unless enough people vote for someone more responsible.