Russell Brand on Newsnight: Would you join Russell's revolution?

Share

Russell Brand is on everyone's lips. He heckled the GQ awards, wrote the latest in a series of brilliant pieces about them, and is now guest editing the New Statesman. Last night the comic and actor promised a "revolution" on Newsnight. But would you follow him to the wall?

Case for: Masterclass

“I hate Russell Brand. He’s an idiot and what really is a sex addict anyway?” There it is. The easiest card to play at the water cooler. But after his debate with Jeremy Paxman last night how about a shuffling of the pack?

Brand’s rant may have been lacking in specifics but it was a downright masterclass in forthright and intuitive persuasive-speaking. Might not his non-voting be perceived as apathetic, asked the venerable beardy one. No! retorted the less venerable beard - twisting the argument in a manner Shakespeare’s Mark Anthony would have been proud -  “[It’s the politicians] that are apathetic to our needs: they’re only interested in servicing the needs of corporations!”

Brand the soap-boxer had it all: swagger, charm and even flattery for his opponent. “That beard - its gorgeous,” he purred. “Grow it longer… tangle it into your armpit hair.” And for his next trick? Robin Hood rhetoric of the highest order: “Aren’t the Tories taking the EU to court because they [the EU] are trying to curtail bankers’ bonuses?” 

This is what one might call “route one political discourse”. It’s an approach that’s been tried by various people throughout history with varying degrees of success (Jesus Christ, Karl Marx and Pol Pot all spring to mind, while Ed Miliband’s “many not the few” tagline also has a whiff of Robin Hood economics to it)

Now, if Russell can just add a bit more of this type of political content to his next highfalutin diatribe – well, I’ll raise a pitchfork to that. Bravo Brand! Viva la Russolution!

@josephcharlton4

Case against: Trivial

Yesterday evening, if you were fortunate enough to tune into Newsnight, you would have been privy to the ultimate expression of Slackerism, a political theory with roots in teenage angst, mild rebelliousness, and a pie-in-the-sky leftism that wants to pull down the walls of the politics then sit around smoking pot in the ruins. Russell Brand was being interviewed by Paxman. It was a car crash.

Britain’s most charming man – that’s Russell – sounded all too much like an undergraduate who hadn’t done their homework, grabbing wildly at big terms (“prescriptive parameter” this, “paradigm” that) and regurgitating some vague sense of global injustice (“this system just doesn’t address these ideas”). In the Brandian mode of Slackerism “profit” is, of course, a “filthy word” – because bankers are bad. That capitalism has also lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty is purely by-the-by. The sad thing is, he’s right about a lot of things too. Yet the way Brand went at it last night instantly discredited everything that came out of his mouth.

Apathetic cynicism about the political class is all the rage. But, much like Will Self on Question Time not long ago, these armchair idealists ignore the fact that democracy is a difficult process that involves compromise, and that the vast majority of politicians are simply the only people dull enough and public-spirited enough to stick around in politics.

If Brand had his way, and was king of the UK anarchists, he’d creep off to L.A. the moment he heard a good ashram was opening. At least with ‘boring snoring’ Rachel Reeves, you know she’s here for the long run. Brand is a searingly eloquent and brilliant commentator when on song. Yesterday night was a low point. To borrow Paxman’s put-down, what we saw was not a leader of the “despondent underclass”, but Britain’s most trivial revolutionary at work.

@memphisbarker

More: Simon Kelner writes that Russell Brand made Paxman look 'ridiculous'

I would join Russell's revolution

A view over Rotherham  

The Only Way is Ethics: There are many dangers in a story as complex as the Rotherham child sex scandal

Will Gore
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor