Many of you may be shocked to learn of Comedian Russell Brand’s recent switch to political/current affair commentator. I know I was. Along with serious appearances on PrimeTime and elsewhere, in addition to Brand’s youtube channel “The Trews- News you can trust”, the comedian is using his name and charisma to provide his followers with a source of genuine unbiased political thought with regards to current affairs, terrorism, corporations, and a lot more. He has been involved with a number of protests such as the Irish Water Protests, marches against austerity measures in London, and most recently the New Era Housing estate movement. Many have been critical of Brand’s involvement and career change, and yet while Brand’s trademark egocentric,downright barmyness features strongly throughout, it in a way validates the overall earnestness of his agenda.
Brands latest book Revolution is similar to The Trews in ways- the sometimes seemingly directionless ravings, the critique of modern day news reporting, politicians and figureheads, the sarcasm, the breakdown of overly complicated political jargon to layman terms, and more seriously, a persistent nudge in the direction of a worldwide, peaceful revolution.
How to take an ex sex and drug addict seriously on such a sombre level? Especially when the blatant hypocrisy of a celebrity whose benefited significantly from the exact structures he claims are failing is acknowledged? Well, I suppose you don’t have to. However, the research in Revolution which reference notorious academics such as Dave Graeber and Noam Chomsky among others, lend Brands work a credibility not so easily refuted, and coupled with Brand’s explanation of serious political and revolutionary ideologies through humorous means, make Revolution appealing to those without an interest in politics. And even if you don’t agree, its both an eye opening and entertaining read. If nothing else, Revolution provides insight to the reader of Brand’s own realization of the unfairness, greed and injustice that is rampant through all strata of society today. And he puts it simply:
“Unless you are the CEO of a a major corporation, you too in 2014-15 are repaying taxes to a Government that doesn’t represent you; they represent the interests of big business.”
Its worth noting that much of Brand’s work references spiritualism and faith,and specifically a spiritual revolution. It all sounded a bit too tree-hugging-hippy-ish to me too. But under all the spiritual anecdotes, there is some solid sense and logic to Brand’s thinking. Does Revolution call for a revolution? Yes, in a way, though not through the traditional connotations. He references Gandhi, in that people need to “Be the change” and that to truly see the injustices and failing of modern day democracy, we must break away from the capitalistic and materialistic mindsets so embedded in society.
Possible? Of course.
Appealing? To some.
Overall, Revolution is a work designed to, if not inspire mass revolt, then to encourage people to think for themselves and challenge the economical,corporate and political systems of today. To question the logic of following, maintaining and supporting a system that in all honesty, does not benefit the majority, but the elite few. Revolution is deliberately not overtly serious and thoroughly researched as to disengage readers, and this is where its success is, as those without an interest in politics and economics are not alienated. The lack of such may pose issues for the more academically minded, but even so it still references controversial topics such as trade agreements, foreign policy, bank bailouts and tax evasion. Arguably, it may just be the regurgitated rhetoric of pre-existing academics and ideologies, mingled with spiritualism and black humor, but regardless its a stimulating, provocative and engaging read.