Blog: Do we have to like Russell Brand to support what he says? Especially as a feminist…

 

Russell Brand is ubiquitous at the moment, fighting the corner of the underdog, keeping RBS employers from their lunch and making documentaries about drug addiction. I follow him on Facebook and he’s relentless.

Love or hate the curly-haired comedian, personally, I think it can’t be denied some of what he says is true, relevant and I’m glad someone is saying it. For example, his denunciation of corporate companies making tax deals with the treasury which loses the state billions of pounds. I agree it’s time to change the rhetoric away from immigrants and onto the corporate giants like Google and Amazon – those faceless corporate companies that seem untouchable.

I don’t really agree (does anyone?) with the line of attack on Brand that singles him out as a hypocrite just because he’s made millions. So what? Don’t we all want to make money? He could use this money to go on perpetual shopping sprees and Caribbean holidays. But he’s not, he’s traipsing round London shouting unflattering things about Nigel Farage and visiting food banks.

Someone has said to me how can anyone listen to Brand after the whole Sachsgate fiasco? (Whereby Brand and Jonathan Ross were broadcast leaving abusive messages on Andrew Sachs answerphone about his granddaughter, who Brand has slept with).  Someone else said to me they were surprised that many feminists support the overly verbose comedian-turned-campaigner. They then told me a story, and I don’t know if this is true or not, about Brand refusing to appear in a film unless one of the female staff showed him her tits. Googled this and found this story from The Sun. If true, it goes without saying this is appalling behaviour.

It got me thinking – should feminists, like myself, be in favour of someone capable of such derogatory behaviour towards women just because we agree with some of the things they are saying and some of the causes they are championing?  I don’t really know the answer and, in truth, it’s a personal decision.

Brand has apologised and been punished for the Sachsgate incident. And maybe he’s sorry about the tit-flashing demand, maybe he’s not. Certainly recently he’s made a point of saying he is respectful of women (but, let’s face it, of course he’d say that). Whether this is sincere or not, I don’t know.  It does certainly bring his integrity into question. I’d certainly like to ask him to explain himself about the tit-flashing demand and find out if he now acknowledges what a sexist, self-important twat it makes him.

But does it really matter if Brand is an egotistical narcissist, which has also been suggested, raging his ‘revolution’ only as a massive vanity project, if he is starting sensible conversations the country needs to have – on immigration, tax avoidance and the war on drugs – and pushing for positive change? Do you have to be near perfect yourself before you can highlight the failures of society or politicians?

As long as you can take criticism yourself and acknowledge your mistakes, I’d say not. No one’s perfect. If Brand, with his unbridled energy and overly verbose rhetoric, helps people and raises awareness of some important issues then that can only be a good thing, right? He recently helped the residents of the New Era Estate win a battle with their landlord. Brand’s not a politician – you don’t have to like the man to agree with what he says. And just because you agree with some of what he says it doesn’t mean you agree with everything he says – I don’t agree with his anti-voting stance. It’s all about the debate. But you don’t even have to acknowledge Brand if you don’t want to – he’s not voting in parliament.

What is sad is that Brand seems to be the only public figure out there calling for a radical change to the system and standing up for the voiceless. And good for him for doing that. It’d be nice to have a less controversial figure doing the same, or, you know, a politician! But would they get the same publicity? I doubt it. Brand is a divisive figure but he does seem sincere about the issues he speaks about and there’s something in that.  I’d rather have a Russell Brand over a Nigel Farage any day.

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