Russell Brand is far from trivial. On Newsnight, he made Paxman look ridiculous

This was the old guard against the new, and the new came out on top

Share

In the middle of his highly entertaining interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight, Russell Brand referred to himself as “an actor”. I had always thought that he was a stand-up comedian, and this put a very different complexion on his performance. Was it all an act? Did he really believe in the overthrow of the entire political system, or was it an dramatic exercise designed to keep Brand's intellectual motor ticking over?

Brand presented himself as a man of conviction who is furious about the inadequacies of politicians to effect meaningful change, and who believes that the status quo exists to perpetuate inequality and iniquity. And all I can say is that, if he didn't mean it, then he is a bloody good actor.

It was a classic Paxman interview. On one side was a rather effete figure with an unruly beard who found it hard to take anything seriously, and on the other side was Russell Brand. Paxman's first contribution rather gave the game away. He sneered at the fact that Brand had guest edited an edition of the “New Statesman”. Paxman asked him: what gives you the right to edit a political magazine when you don't even vote? Brand replied in characteristically disarming fashion: he was in the editor's chair because he had been “politely asked by an attractive woman”.

Brand might adopt an ethereal air, but this knockabout exchange showed just how out-of-touch old Paxo is. Doesn't he know that the media is no longer the exclusive province of a gilded elite. Anyone with access to a computer screen can get published. If you've got an opinion and a mobile phone, you can make sure the world hears you.

This - broadly - fitted in with Brand's narrative. He seeks an egalitarian nirvana, where, as far as I could make out, companies don't make profits, the planet's resources are protected, and privilege is abolished. It sounded rather attractive, even if it wasn't exactly worked through. But Brand's rhetorical flourishes made up for the lack of detail. “Jeremy darling,” he said at one point, “don't ask me to sit here in a bloody hotel room and devise a global utopian system.”

Brand, who sounded like the love child of Stanley Unwin and Will Self, was goaded to genuine anger by Paxman's patronising assertion that he was “a trivial man”. Whatever Brand may be, he's not trivial. His call for revolution may be Spartist nonsense, but Brand definitely articulates a strain of thinking among a growing number of young people who feel disenfranchised, disenchanted, disengaged and, most important, disinterested in the idea that politics can change the world.

Most politicians don't lay a glove on Paxman. Brand made him look uncomfortable and faintly ridiculous. And his retort to Paxman's consistent sneering was priceless. “Jeremy, you've spent your whole career berating and haranguing politicians,” he said, “and when someone like me says they're all worthless, and what's the point in engaging with them, you have a go at me for not being poor any more”. A bit of verbal slapstick it may have been, but there was just the sense, when Jeremy met Russell, that some of the old certainties may be shifting.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Administrator - Chinese Speaking

£17000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly growing company is...

Recruitment Genius: Start a Career as a Financial Markets Trader

£40000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Become a professional Trader a...

Recruitment Genius: Software Implementation Consultant

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Recruitment Genius: Service Desk Co-ordinator / Client Services Administrator

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The era of graduates from the university conveyor belt is over

Hamish McRae
The UCAS clearing house call centre in Cheltenham, England  

Ucas should share its data on students from poor backgrounds so we can get a clearer picture of social mobility

Conor Ryan
Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks