Zayn Malik leaving One Direction is more important than David Cameron and the General Election, says Russell Brand

Hot on the heels of his Clarkson Top Gear parody, the comedian is staying as topical as ever

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The Independent Online

Russell Brand has theorised that the worrying hysteria surrounding departing One Direction member Zayn Malik is because of society's loss of religion.

Arguing that the "cut4zayn" hashtag - in which teenage girls are self-harming in a bid to persuade the singer to return to the boyband - shows a religious fervour, Brand argues politicians can never match it.

In an episode of The Trews, Brand seeks to "honestly appraise" the situation asking: "What is Zayn? Zayn is a member of One Direction.

"He's very good looking, he's the shy one... and he didn't want to do the dancing," Brand summarises. "So I suppose what Zayn must represent to One Directioners is the one that's a little bit vulnerable, so Zayn leaving may bring to the forefront feelings of vulnerability and feelings of loss."

Likening the hysteria to the worship of Ancient Greek god Dionysus, Brand hypothesised: "Young people not being interested in politics isn't apathy, it's reflective impotence. They recognise it's meaningless. Across the last series of The X Factor, 40 million of us voted. That's more than voted in the last General Election." In the 2010 election, just over 29 million Brits cast a vote.

"No politician is going to connect to a teenage girl in the way that Zayn Malik does," he says.

Describing the "cut4zayn" hashtag as "worrying", Brand says: "Us being frivolous and snooty and condescending about that is really the wrong approach."

DIRTY BEACH_0430.jpg "In a way, One Direction matters a lot more than the General Election - no-one's going to self-harm when William Hague steps down," Brand says.

He adds: "They will attend the ritual performances of the gigs, they will wear the uniform of the merchandise, they will cut themselves... in a way that is obviously religious."

Brand concludes that the powerful emotions on show indicate the "loss of religion, the loss of spirituality in our culture. The kind of nihilism that consumerism and capitalism leads to." 

Mental health charity Mind have urged anyone worried that they might self-harm, or have friends who are at risk, to get in touch.

“Used in a positive way, social media can play a useful role in a person’s wider support network. However, it is vital to recognise the huge danger created by any site or social media trend that promotes self-harm. Self-harm is an incredibly serious problem and should never be trivialised. We urge those using Twitter or other social media sites at this time not to engage with posts that promote harmful behaviour, and to report any activity that causes them concern.

“Anyone worried about someone they know who may be self-harming should encourage them to seek support. For more information about self-harm call the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393 or see mind.org.uk.”

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