Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Somehow this disqualifyingly moronic assumption did not deter Russell Brand's political acolytes

Embed from Getty Images

Twitter yesterday was full of people arguing that, because Russell Brand - who denies all the allegations made against him on Saturday's Dispatches programme - was being defended by right-wing conspiracy loons, there were no lessons for the left to learn from his rise and fall.

If you pointed out, as I did a couple of times, that Brand had written a Guardian column for years and edited a special issue of the New Statesman, some were outraged.

So I was pleased by Marina Hyde's article in the Guardian this morning, which looks at the role of the press - the Guardian and herself included - in boosting Brand over the year.

Here are a few quotations from it:

Back in the day, though, a lot of people were thrilled to be on what they thought was Russell’s side of the line. For a certain type of mournfully uncool man on the left, Russell Brand was quite the excitement. You only had to watch their little faces in his presence – lit up at being fleetingly indulged by the kind of guy who would probably have bullied them at school. 


The apogee of this particular stage of Brand’s inevitable journey toward alt-right-frotting wingnut was surely the ludicrously feverish speculation over whether he’d endorse Labour in the 2015 general election. 
Keen to be awarded his royal warrant, the then Labour leader, Ed Miliband, traipsed to Brand’s London flat during the final stages of the campaign, for a filmed interview where committed non-voter Russell inquired rhetorically: “Since suffrage, since the right to vote, what has meaningfully occurred?” Nothing much, he reckoned. Somehow, this disqualifyingly moronic assumption did not deter his political acolytes.


What is completely bizarre, with the benefit of 2023 hindsight, is how the Sachsgate story was framed, both by those who were reflexive defenders of the BBC and “comedy” and free speech (then a somewhat lefty preoccupation, funnily enough), AND by those who wished their destruction. Fleet Street quickly settled into tribes and covered it as a story where each assumed the other was acting out of vested interests. This was back when our only culture wars were about things that happened on the BBC. (My how we’ve grown.) Mail vox pops were incandescent; some Guardian ones found it an “overreaction”.

Hyde also reminds us that the Liberal Democrat contribution to this climate was Nick Clegg telling GQ he had slept with 30 women.

I have sometimes resisted the cult of Marina Hyde in the past, but this is a brave and important column.

Later. Sadly, the column isn't or brave as I first thought. Here is a Lost in Showbiz column by Hyde from January 2009 - thanks to Gerry Lynch for tweeting it:

Today in Jesus Wept we must turn to Sachsgate breakout star Georgina Baillie, who has thus far managed to parlay Russell Brand's insult to her dignity into an excruciatingly candid red-top buy-up and a number of semi-mucky photoshoots.

But can we please draw the line at the trenchant newspaper comment pieces? It seems not. Breaking another ten second silence, Manuel's estranged granddaughter takes to the pages of today's Sun with an opinion column unlikely to give PJ O'Rourke any sleepless nights.

Entitled "My View", it sees the Satanic Slut attempt to gain some sort of purchase on this latest Jonathan Ross "outrage", the details of which I literally cannot be bothered to even look up, let alone confect horror over. The world can now be divided into people who genuinely think caring about this crap is important, and people you might wish to know socially.

If Russell Brand was the school bully who was briefly your friend, then in these columns Marina Hyde was the most popular girl in the school, and she was being mean to someone else.

It's a shame she didn't acknowledge that in today's article. What appeared to be an admission of guilt now looks more like an attempt to hide it with fake candour.


Phil Beesley said...

I blame it on the absence of magicians on TV. When you were absorbed by the magician's extravagant clothes, by the athleticism of the assistant, the light show and the emotional soundtrack, you were ready to believe anything. After the show, you argued with mates about how you were all fooled.

Alex Macfie said...

As the sort of "mournfully uncool" guy who was bullied by Russell Brand types, I have to say he had the exact opposite effect on me from that described by Marina Hyde. I had decided that those boys were jerks, the ones best to avoid and keep away from, and to hate even. So when I first heard of Russell Brand, my instinct was to despise him and recognise him for the jerk he actually is. His forays into politics never impressed me either. He always seemed to be a 'plastic revolutionary', great at spouting pseudo-Marxist slogans, but obviously with absolutely no idea of what any of it meant. I'm really not surprised about any of these allegations. He's exactly the type.