Monday 16 July 2018

Ruairi McKiernan: Brand's rant sparked a flame that has us talkin' about a revolution

Passion, drama, humour: whatever your take on Brand is, he did us all a favour. We do need a revolution . . . of ideas
Passion, drama, humour: whatever your take on Brand is, he did us all a favour. We do need a revolution . . . of ideas

LAST week, in a now famous interview with Jeremy Paxman on the BBC, the controversial comedian Russell Brand gave voice to the frustrations and hopes of a generation. He slammed the political system as being a servant of big business and bankers, suggested voting was a waste of time and said nothing short of a revolution was needed.

"The planet is being destroyed. We are creating an underclass and exploiting poor people all over the world. And the legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political powers," he said in an interview filled with passion, drama, humour and urgency. The response was explosive. Social media erupted in support. Someone had said something that many were thinking but didn't have the words, the platform or the courage to say. Russell had stoked a fire, stirred the rabble and given a voice to the voiceless.

Brand's message was straight forward. But as Orwell once said: "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." In a world where climate change isn't being addressed and where the wealth of the world's richest grew by 8pc last year as the rest of us struggle, Brand's contribution is timely. His call for us to "wake up" didn't seem to convince a sceptical Jeremy Paxman and he appears to have been largely dismissed as a crank by politicians and pundits, including many on the left who see him more as a self-promoting, childish celebrity showman than as someone who has something of substance to offer. Regardless of the dismissals, Brand has succeeded in making politics appealing in a way that most politicians couldn't dream of. He has injected honesty, edginess and colour into an otherwise grey political landscape. On my last count, various YouTube versions of the interview had over 10 million hits, growing at a rate of around one million a day. A Facebook fan page 'Russell's Revolution' has also sprung up, attracting over 130,000 followers in a matter of days. It's clear that his message is resonating.

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