Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Russell Brand - one more time

The Guardian ran a follow-up piece by Russell Brand yesterday, commenting on his interview with Jeremy Paxman and some of the results, including the accusations of hypocrisy and sexism. The piece reassured me that my gut feeling about him was not far off the mark. I've copied a few snips, with focus on answering some of the anti-Russell comments which have appeared all over the net recently, including in some comments here.

He begins:
I've had an incredible week since I spoke from the heart, some would say via my arse, on Paxman. I've had slaps on the back, fist bumps, cheers and hugs while out and about, cock-eyed offers of political power from well intentioned chancers and some good ol' fashioned character assassinations in the papers.

Re Hypocrisy
Obviously there has been some criticism of my outburst, I've not been universally applauded as a cross between Jack Sparrow and Spartacus (which is what I'm going for) but they've been oddly personal and I think irrelevant to the argument. I try not to read about myself as the mean stuff is hurtful and the good stuff hard to believe, but my mates always give me the gist of what's going on, the bastards. Some people say I'm a hypocrite because I've got money now. When I was poor and I complained about inequality people said I was bitter, now I'm rich and I complain about inequality they say I'm a hypocrite. I'm beginning to think they just don't want inequality on the agenda because it is a real problem that needs to be addressed.

It's easy to attack me, I'm a right twerp, I'm a junkie and a cheeky monkey, I accept it, but that doesn't detract from the incontrovertible fact that we are living in a time of huge economic disparity and confronting ecological disaster. This disparity has always been, in cultures since expired, a warning sign of end of days. In Rome, Egypt and Easter Island the incubated ruling elites, who had forgotten that we are one interconnected people, destroyed their societies by not sharing. That is what's happening now, regardless of what you think of my hair or me using long words, the facts are the facts and the problem is the problem. Don't be distracted. I think these columnist fellas who give me aggro for not devising a solution or for using long words are just being territorial. When they say "long words" they mean "their words" like I'm a monkey who got in their Mum's dressing up box or a hooligan in policeman's helmet.

When I first got a few quid it was like an anaesthetic that made me forget what was important but now I've woken up. I can't deny that I've done a lot of daft things while I was under the capitalist fugue, some silly telly, soppy scandals, movies better left unmade. I've also become rich. I don't hate rich people; Che Guevara was a rich person. I don't hate anyone, I judge no one, that's not my job, I'm a comedian and my job is to say whatever I like to whoever I want if I'm prepared to take the consequences. Well I am.

Re sexism:
One thing I've learned and was surprised by is that I may suffer from the ol' sexism. I can only assume I have an unaddressed cultural hangover, like my adorable Nan who had a heart that shone like a pearl but was, let's face it, a bit racist. I don't want to be a sexist so I'm trying my best to check meself before I wreck meself. The problem may resolve itself as I'm in a loving relationship with a benevolent dictator and have entirely relinquished personal autonomy.

The following paras I especially admire:
Whilst travelling between gigs I had my second notable encounter. One night late at the Watford Gap I got chatting to a couple of squaddies, one Para, one Marine, we talked a bit about family and politics, I invited them to a show. Then we were joined by three Muslim women, all hijabbed up. For a few perfect minutes in the strip lit inertia of this place, that was nowhere in particular but uniquely Britain, I felt how plausible and beautiful The Revolution could be. We just chatted.

Between three sets of different people; first generation Muslims, servicemen and the privileged elite that they serve (that would be me) effortless cooperation occurred. Here we were free from the divisive rule that tears us apart. That sends brave men and women to foreign lands to fight their capitalist wars, that intimidates and unsettles people whose faith and culture superficially distinguishes them, that tells the comfortable "hush now" you have your trinkets. It seemed ridiculous that refracted through the power prism that blinds us; the soldiers could be invading the homeland of these women's forefathers in order to augment my luxurious stupour. Here in the gap we were together. Our differences irrelevant. With no one to impose separation we are united.

I realised then that our treasured concepts of tribe and nation are not valued by those who govern except when it is to divide us from each other. They don't believe in Britain or America they believe in the dollar and the pound. These are deep and entrenched systemic wrongs that are unaddressed by party politics.

The symptoms of these wrongs are obvious, global and painful. Drone strikes on the innocent, a festering investment for future conflict.

How many combatants are created each time an innocent person in a faraway land is silently ironed out from an Arizona call centre? The reality is we have more in common with the people we're bombing than the people we're bombing them for.


mike said...

As I said in a recent post, I do hope that your faith in Russell Brand is rewarded.

Spoken like a true Gemini:

“I struggle in these situations not to let my madness govern me, and to let the positive aspects of my character define my life.” Russell Brand, Booky Wook 2: This Time it's Personal

Twilight said...

mike ~ I've been wrong before- but not often. :-)

LB said...

Twilight ~ Whether Russell Brand is sincere or not seem like a moot point. There's plenty we can do now without waiting for a celebrity to lead us. Still haven't heard any practical suggestions coming from him either (other than not voting), though we can continue to hope.

In the meantime, there's no reason for us to wait when there are plenty of other folks who've been paving the way for years, making it easier for the rest of us -once awake- to begin making wiser choices.

According to Senator Bernie Sanders "Billionaires like the Koch brothers" (among others) are using their influence once again to try and cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Federal budget talks will be going on during the next few months and we all know who will suffer most if their efforts are successful:

We can call our representatives and sign petitions, but additionally, those of us who are able can BOYCOTT products made by companies whose values don't align with our own.

Here's a link to a list of Koch products and companies:

Here's one for Monsanto, who recently spent big money (22 million) to help defeat GMO labeling in the state of Washington - it's a printable list :

These are small choices, yes, but the most lasting and meaningful forms of change usually happen when we're willing to give something up in order to gain something later on. There's no one magic bullet. It's hard work and actions speak louder than words. We vote with our dollars.

mike (again) said...

Journalist John Danzig:

Russell Brand says he never votes, as it’s a waste of time. Here's my response.

"... The vote gives us the power to hire or fire governments. By not voting you diminish and weaken us all. You reduce and ridicule our power of emancipation. You are lessening by one vote, your discarded vote, all our powers of choice.

The fewer people who vote, the more governments know they have more control over us to do as they want and not as we want. The message of the non-voter to them is: ‘we don’t care; do as you please; you choose how you want to run my life.’

When people don’t vote who can vote – in local, national and European elections – governments know they have less eyes watching them. They realise they can get away with passing laws that many voters will not protest or care about or even bother to find out about.

In the last European Parliamentary elections in the UK, only 34% of the electorate voted. So most people who had a vote chose not to use it.

In those EU elections, UKIP won 11 of Britain's 73 seats in the European Parliament. That may have been a fair reflection of just a third of the electorate; but was it really representative of all those who could, but didn't, vote? That's the problem with low turn-outs in elections: the results are fair only for the minority who voted, but not necessarily reflective of the true feelings of the majority who didn't.

The smaller the turnout at elections, the less chance we get the governments we want. With low turnouts, governments are less accountable to the majority. The more who vote, the more governments represent us all, and respect that it's the people to whom they are beholden. ..."

LB said...

mike ~ Continuing to vote for candidates who represent the lesser of two evils only seems to encourage them.:)

Voting on issues seems more worthwhile, though trying to research and wade through the misleading (and missing) information can be challenging for most voters - GMO labeling is one example. Btw, I misspoke in my previous comment when I said Monsanto spent 22 million to defeat GMO labeling in Washington State; actually it was Monsanto along with others.

mike (again) said...

LB, I'd rather vote for the one representing the "lesser of two evils" than the one representing the "greater of two evils"! Every election cycle brings politicians and measures that I feel I'm darned if I do and darned if I don't. Such is our system.

If you don't think that voting works, just look at all of the T-Party politicians that were elected. The members of the T-Party, while being a minority voting fringe, organized and VOTED under the Republican umbrella. The percentage of T-Party voters far exceeded the percentage of regular Republicans.

Twilight said...

LB~ We - or at least I - am not waiting for a "celebrity" to lead me - I am simply rejoicing a wee bit that a "celebrity" - a guy with a voice which will carry to corners where Chris Hedges, Bernie Sanders etc will not be heardm is bothering to say things which need saying to a set of people, many of whom need to be made aware of what's going on.
that's the first step. We're not far enough along yet to overlook the value of this awakening stage.

The suggestions you make, LB, are valuable, but unless enough people are aware of the need for them they lose their value, because without a mass of people following your advice meaningful reasults will be negligible, apart, perhaps from one's own satisfaction that one has done one's best - but that doesn't help things along much in the bigger picture.

Let us not play down the value of people like Brand who are, after all risking losing a proportion of their audience by taking a stand like this. Maybe his speaking out will persuade more of our Hollywood so-called liberals in the USA to take a similar stand and stop pandering to the Dem Establishment so much.

Whether one votes or not is up to each individual to decide. I didn't vote for president because neither choice I had was a choice at all. I voted for the rest in the best way available (which was pretty darn useless, anyway, in this neck of the woods).

Brand's words are flavoured by his Britishness, and much of what he's saying is to the British in particular, but he also lives in California for periods, and is obviously well aware of the situation here, so balances what he says to be relevant to US as well as anyone else in the world who understands English.

Your words are true, I'm, not arguing with them at all, just hoping that you could see some value in my point of view also.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Voting seems more and more like a waste of time because there's something stinkingly rotten at the heart of the system.

It's up to each of us to choose whether to vote, obviously.

Brand has stated his reasons for not voting and they make sense to me. We're in a different situation from him though. He's a UK citizen - as far as I know he's not a US citizen. Not that voting here makes much difference for some of us.

The situation in 50 different states, many hundreds, thousands of different counties in such a vast country cannot compare to tiny UK. So his words on voting need to be taken in context a wee bit.

I registered Independent when I became a citizen in 2008 because I could see after living here for 4 years, that neither of the two heads of the corporate monster here related in any way relevant to my left-wing beliefs. I was taken in by Obama's campaign eventually, but not immediately.
I now do not know how, or if, I'll vote in 2014 and 2016 if I'm still around. It will depend on the choices.

The "lesser evil" (the Dems) are, as a journalist once pointed out, "the more effective evil". They are two-faced - speak one way, act another. When they are in power they allow legislation to slide in under cover of their liberal label, and enough of their brainwashed supporters do not raise voices against them, as they would if the same things had happened under Republicans.

The rotten heart of the US system is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
and the over-tight ballot laws in some states which cut out anyone but the two-headed monster party.
Get those huge kinks out of the US electoral system and I'll vote - I'd crawl to the voting station!

Twilight said...

mike & LB ~ First thing I read after typing the comments above

The rottenness at the heart of the system!

mike (again) said...

I read the "Democracy Trampled" link, Twilight. Nothing I didn't already know or suspected in that article. I think that LB and I both agree that we can choose to not provide those powerful corporations with our consumer dollars. And I agree with your comment, Twilight, that until enough individual consumers elect to do the same, not much will change.

I have seen very effective boycotts against products, surprisingly most have been led by the right-wing conservative...usually under the guise of "family values". Kraft salad dressing comes to mind with their ever so slightly provocative, covered in the right place, "man at a picnic" boycott.

But, then there's the liberal boycott of Barilla pasta, caused by Barilla's CEO declaring gays didn't need to purchase their pasta, as gays don't have "family values" anyway.

Consumers are an effective force for both good and ill. Like LB, I can't rely on other consumers to get on my cloud of objectives, so I simply boycott those products that I can't support, whether for political reasons or their greed and corruption. I definitely let other people know, when the time is appropriate, that their choice of consumption can make a difference, particularly if I know they purchase a product that would differ from their values.

Twilight, the presidential choices of the last election were not my favorites, either. I voted for Obama because Romney was a wild-card with unknown potential, but I knew enough about him to ponder his potential dangers. I preferred to stick with the one I knew the most, like him or not.

I should have mentioned in my last comment that the primary elections are more important than most people would think. The primaries always have the lowest voter turn-out. I suppose most individuals prefer to save their energy for the general election.

The 2012 primaries is how the T-Party candidates went on to the general elections. The T-Party took advantage of low voter turn-out and made their votes extraordinarily effective. I can't blame them for doing the obvious to strengthen their potency.

States vary widely in conducting primary elections. The types are: closed, semi-closed, open, semi-open, blanket, and non-partisan blanket primaries. Homogeneity amongst states in conducting primary elections would go a long way in applying "fairness" during primary elections.

mike (again) said...

“Listen, Peaches, trickery is what humans are all about," said the voice of Maurice. "They're so keen on tricking one another all the time that they elect governments to do it for them.” Terry Pratchett, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Yes, the complexity of the US voting/electoral system is something I'm still getting my head around. It's nothing like the UK system. I realise that the size of the country and relative rapid rate of its growth since the 18th century has a lot to do with the mish-mosh.

I can't get away from the notion that if this is truly meant to be a UNITED States, then having such a plethora of different rules and regulations, state by state is really quite nonsensical and (dare I say?) undemocratic.

Still, we're stuck with it.

I can't vote in primaries here, being registered Indy - unless suddenly a few Indy candidates appear out of nowhere. Unlikely in the extreme.


Then there's the vote counting. Counting machines run by corporations rather than hand-counted votes by We The People. Hmmmm. More stinky rot at the heart of things.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Even if we occasionally disagree, I'm still very grateful for your point of view. Some of your posts (and links) have made me aware of topics and people I might not otherwise have run across, so thank you! I especially appreciate your willingness to share your views in a way that encourages a respectful exchange of ideas (and links).

What I find lacking in Russell Brand's message is that so far at least, it barely skims the surface and fails to look at the world's problems from a more holistic perspective.

Much like our western medical model of "diagnose, treat, cure", Russell Brand's message names the disease and its symptoms (and validates our feelings about them) then seeks to cure our problems without fully understanding their *roots*.

Think how much more might be accomplished if those of us with the wherewithal put our influence to good use by helping to start organic, GMO-free, community gardens and/or local food coops, along with community centers focused on educating people on a variety of issues (health, education, ethical consumerism, the environment), encouraging them to put down their iPads and Smartphones and learn how to personally interact and advocate for social justice in their communities and the world.

The question is, just how awake are people? And how appealing do you think the message would be if it involved less consumption/quick fixes and more longterm,healthy, compassionate choices that aren't overly dependent upon some of the modern conveniences many of us take for granted, or on businesses and larger corporations whose choices are driven mostly by profit.

Our delusions have served some of us pretty well up until now, or so we thought. There's a reason *why* so many of us have fallen asleep and *why* once awake we continue to look outside ourselves for someone to blame - without grasping the ways in which we've (unknowingly) become culpable, or *how* we might make a difference by changing those behaviors under our control.

I would disagree with you as to the value in relatively small, mindful actions or in doing a thing even if it fails to achieve a big result. Though understandable, this disconnected way of thinking is one of the reasons we find ourselves where we are today. By choosing to act on our awareness and making these smaller changes in lifestyle and habits, we move away from our former disempowered roles as complacent spectators and begin to embrace our new roles as aware, mindful members of our communities.

Here's the link to an article written by Helena Norberg-Hodge, winner of the "Alternative Nobel Prize" as well as the 2012 Goi Peace Prize:

It was included in a book I'm reading on mindful consumerism, published over a decade ago. Please don't let its title, "Buddhism in the Global Economy" keep you from its greater message. There are pearls of wisdom there.

And here's the link to a wonderful TEDx talk this same author gave available on YouTube, "The Economics of Happiness":

Twilight and mike, I think both of you will strongly relate to a lot of her ideas. For instance, she talks about the world wide trend (upon which many governments have been modeled) geared solely towards creating prosperity, referring to it as "the drone economy", which, she points out, is mostly the result of blindness rather than outright malice.

We pay a high price for wanting to have it all - to be the best, the richest, the smartest, the strongest, the fastest. What are we willing to give up? I struggle with this too, though I'm more aware than I used to be and more willing to change.:)

Twilight said...

LB ~ Brand is a comedian/actor not a politician. It's not his job to suggest solutions. He appears to have taken it upon himself to try to "spread the word" in his own way, and for that I applaud him, and shll continue to do so for as long as he continues on this path. So many of his peers prefer to turn a blind eye, or just support individual issues (support for individual causes is good , but these folks could do more if they were not so afraid of losing half their fans). Because the USA is very celeb conscious a group of celebs could do a huge amount of good by simply speaking out more.

Anyway - thanks again for the links, which I'll follow later - have stuff to do just now.

Thanks too for you views - it'd be boring if all comments were echoes of one another. Singing to the choir is not very useful, though can be satisfying. Singing in kind of ragged harmony with occasional descant can at times be jarring, but in the end is more interesting and even educational - the blog is called Learning Curve....after all.

LB said...

Twilight ~ I agree with you a lot of the time, though I don't think we should depend upon politicians for suggestions or practical solutions.

Enjoy your chores.:)

LB said...

P.S. Thanks for the Common Dreams link; for some reason I forget to check there for articles.

mike (again) said...

Another reason not to purchase "made in China":

"Oregon mother Julie Keith opened a package of Halloween decorations from Kmart last October expecting a cheap bundle of holiday spookiness, but the letter she found tucked among the Chinese-made items was far more disturbing than the $29 fake bloody tombstone kit she had just purchased.

“Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization,” the note read. “Thousands people here who are under the persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever [all sic].”

Written on lined paper in broken English, the letter was a heartbreaking plea for help, sent surreptitiously from the bowels of a forced labor camp in northeastern China. More than a year after Keith discovered the note, a man claiming to be its author has begun speaking out against the brutal Chinese “re-education through labor" system that imprisoned him, reports The New York Times."|main5|dl6|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D402855

mike (again) said...

Off topic!

"Correlation is an academic journal published by the Astrological Association. Since 1969, the journal has critically studied astrological truth claims and has published articles describing statistical research projects, including studies that are critical of astrology."

LB said...

mike ~ I remember that story about the letter written by the Chinese worker and how disturbing it was. It's one the main reasons we're trying *not* to perpetuate this type of abuse through our choices. If we do purchase items made in other countries, fairly traded, ethically produced is better than the alternative. Even with things produced in this country, issues involving the safety and/or abuse of workers isn't uncommon. Organic isn't just about our health or the health of our environment, it's also about the health of underpaid, migrant farmworkers who lack options and access to healthcare, yet are regularly exposed to dangerous pesticides.

When my husband needed some new cotton items recently, I ended up going with on organic, fairly traded, sweat-shop free brand made outside the States, one carried by one of our small local stores.

Originally I'd had my eye on something organic that I *thought* was sewn by a local person, but then found out she only enhanced items sourced from a larger 'green' US company who has them made without any fair trade guarantees - and from a place in the world where forced child labor is common.:( I sent off an email asking them to go FairTrade - they never responded.

When my favorite pair of old socks (the thicker ones I wear when I go walking) finally got a hole in them, I did manage to find a pair of colorful, organic replacements made here in the USA and sold at our local food coop - yay!

Finding items and doing the research can be a challenge. Now that we know, we'll probably buy more things used as they need replacing.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I do try very hard to avoid "made in China" but it's not easy.

when I first came to the USA I had a dickens of a job finding comfortable shoes one my UK pairs I brought with me had worn out or become uncomfortable in the heat here.
I eventually found one of sperry's styles was just what I needed, and assuming Sperry's to be an old US firm bought a pair online. Found they were made in China. Haven't found anything else as comfortable yet. Most things I've found at Goodwill - shirts, blouses tops were made in either China, India, Taiwan, and similar. Hardly anything is made in the USA or UK anymore.

Re: Correlation magazine, interesting - I think I recall reading about it once years ago. I went to the website just now but the only link on the site working is for the current issue available to subscribers only, and the subscription button doesn't do anything, nor do any other buttons, including back issues which could be interesting, I wonder if it's because we're in the USA perhaps and they don't deal internationally.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Re your points made earlier - it's surely possible for both ideas to proceed in tandem - your ideas and porposals as well as the attempts to wake more people, especially young adults and others not so far taking notice. They'll have to deal with the mess created over the last decades long after we're gone.

Twilight said...

LB and mike ~ Please forgive multiple
typos in comments. I'm trying to type too fast too late at night! I do wish Blogger would get a comment edit button. :-)

DC said...

wow....that last line speaks it loud and clearly doesn't it? Awesome.

mike (again) said...

Re Correlation Journal

I had the same problem, Twilight...not sure what their intent is. I was able to access some of their article abstracts via the "Abstracts" button at the top:

Twilight said...

DC ~ I hope so. I saw a photograph of a protest somewhere where a young girl - aged maybe 12 to 14 ish held a sign proclaiming: "We'll Change Things".
Bless 'em!

Twilight said...

mike ~ Ah yes, thanks, I hadn't tried the Abstracts button.

Perhaps they are overhauling the website at present, or have problems.

LB said...

Twilight ~ I sincerely hope you're right, and that more of us are actually waking up and aren't just sleep-walking, without being fully aware of where we're headed or what unconscious desires are driving us. Maybe it's part of a process. Only time will tell.

"They say be careful what you wish for but I often say be certain what you are working for. Have a vision and have a plan."

Thanks again for always keeping me informed.:)