From actor and musician to the face of revolution, Russell Brand isn’t the first celebrity to jump into politics, but he may be the most extreme. His rants about utopian revolution seem to be getting a lot of attention these days, leading us to ask – should Russell Brand be taken seriously as a political forerunner? Or should his rants be written off as the crazy thoughts of a celebrity whose shaggy locks and chest hair are part of his signature look?
Brand seemingly jumped headfirst into the political arena after the publishing of his 2007 memoir, My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand Up. Since then, he’s published more polished pieces about encounters with icons such as Margaret Thatcher and appeared on political talk shows such as The Morning Joe, where he requested that the hosts take his ideas seriously despite his unruly physical appearance and his unusual tendency to wear outrageous jewelry.
But should they? Brand seems to be calling for an Utopian Revolution, a “revolution of the consciousness,” as he described in his New Statesman piece. But Brand has never voted in a political election, because to do so would be to deign complacency in the existing political system, a system that Brand claims breeds apathy.
That being said, in the same political piece, Brand qualifies his authority on political revolution by saying that he’s participated in a few protests and he “loved them.” Is a love of protest enough to give meaning behind such a revolution? And does Brand have any idea of what this Utopian Revolution would look like or what the end result would be?
The answer to these questions are unclear—Brand romanticizes a world where “the acknowledgement that our connection to one another and the planet must be prioritized,” where humanity rules over politics and greed, but he doesn’t really have a plan about how to get there, other than to “beam” at political unrest as the “spectacle of disruption.”
Don’t get me wrong – the idea of revolution has always been trendy. Celebrities and bands such as Nirvana and The Beatles have touted the idea, even on the floor of political assemblies, but Brand is taking a different approach – appealing to the left-wing, spiritual “99%” through academia and pop-culture, using his position as a comedic and movie icon to give him credibility with the newer generation.
And is he wrong to do so? Is making the newer generation of academics think and question the status of the political world a crime? Asking them to think about what social standing means and how they received it; whether or not it was deserved? I don’t think so – but in doing so, is Brand going to become the face of a revolution that he hasn’t even really thought through?
What do you think? Should we take Russell Brand seriously? Is he smart? Is he calling for a revolution because he believes in the real possibility of Utopia, or is he calling for revolution for the sake of revolution, because it fits his persona and, when push comes to shove, it’s trendy?