Tuesday 23 January 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: Charm can be the deadliest weapon

Russell Brand cloaks his hostile sentiments in dangerously beguiling eloquence, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Eilis O'Hanlon

Russell Brand is a great one for the big words. As a baby, he must have swallowed a thesaurus. An affectatious penchant for intellectual loquaciousness – as the man himself might say – is an indispensable part of the rakish dandy act. His admirers imagine Brand as a latter-day Oscar Wilde, leaving a trail of glittering apercus in his wake like diamonds and pearls dropping from the lips of blessed orphans in old fairy tales.

Last week, however, words temporarily failed the stand-up comedian turned Hollywood stalwart turned would-be political revolutionary, and, putting in an appearance on Alan Carr's chat show on Channel Four, he resorted to much less refined language when the subject turned to the British Prime Minister and his fellow Eton and Oxbridge-educated Chancellor, George Osborne. "I think if your job is to look after the country and you don't care about the people who need it most," he said, "you're out of order, and you're a filthy, dirty, posh w***er." Ah, dear Oscar, that thou shouldst be living at this hour to see how far the aphoristic art has fallen.

The best part of this story was how, in the UK Independent, that quote was followed by the words "he argued", as if what Russell Brand had said actually amounted to an argument rather than a spewed projectile of crowd-pleasing bile. But then that's another sign of the times. Just as legendary wits once had to say witty things in order to achieve a reputation, so did philosophers once have to convey some, you know, ideas before being hailed as the future of oracular excogitation (sorry, it's catching). In a world where everything is a pose, the future belongs to poseurs.

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