Russell Brand Poverty Inequality Capitalism
Celebrity iconoclast Russell Brand says humanity must fundamentally change the way it thinks and operates if it is to repair the environment and serve the world’s poor and working class people. Brand weaves his humor and flattery with populist notions of justice, equity and conservation to challenge proponents of the existing socioeconomic system. “The planet is being destroyed,” Brand said in an interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC. “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.”

Brand enjoys mocking traditional institutions that seem to have drifted into an habitual groove because of collective complicity. Earlier this year, Brand appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. After enduring several minutes of the hosts’ questioning, Brand gracefully hijacked the interview by addressing the superficiality and lack of journalistic integrity that is inherent in so many network news programs. Desirous of more substantive conversation, Brand appeared peeved by the hosts’ talk of kinky boots and chest hair, though he never failed to see the humor in it all. But his point is made (perhaps without the hosts’ knowledge): the stage, the lights, the hosts and the content are all part of a well-crafted illusion.

The public perception of Russell Brand—especially in the United States—seems to be that of a drug-addled goofball who was once married to Katy Perry. But a closer examination of his interviews, writings and award speeches reveal a deep thinking individual who is very serious about changing society, politics, economics and spirituality. It is also clear he intends to bring about this change with grace and civility, two qualities that seem to be lacking among our current batch of  ‘leaders.’

If anything, Brand is publicly discussing the issues that are too threatening for politicians, preachers or pundits: extreme poverty, wealth inequality, environmental destruction and the corporate corruption of politics. He has adopted the voice of a generation that feels unempowered and overwhelmed by a system that keeps them scrambling for a buck while the poor suffer, the rich binge and the earth begs relief. People that are frustrated and disillusioned are going to find comfort in Brand’s message.

In the end, it is a message of love. If it were up to Russell Brand, there would be no profit or poverty and our collaborative energy would be spent serving the underclass and healing our planet. One can imagine the possibilities—and there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that.

– Daniel Bonasso

Sources: New Statesman, The Guardian, The Independent
Photo: The Sun


Russell Brand, the thirty-eight year old entertainer, is known for his blunt and often controversial statements. It’s almost expected. What audiences didn’t expect though, was for Brand to speak out on BBC Newsnight about the downward spiral of civilization.

In an interview with Jeremy Paxton, Brand publicly voiced his opinion that, ”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.”

Since this statement, Brand has been subjected to much criticism by both politicians and reporters but has, however, garnered support from the general public. It is Brand’s belief that a revolution in civilization must occur, an entire new way of thinking—and soon.

Critics of his statements maximize the fact that Brand has never voted, but blogger Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development, maintains that Brand shouldn’t be penalized for this.

Ahmed writes, “…his rejection clearly resonates with, and is reflective of, a growing sentiment in wider society where, in fact, actual majorities in our liberal democracies do not vote–not because they are apathetic, but because of the abject apathy of a broken political system in the face of the crisis of civilisation.”

Brand spoke out on national television because he believes that the world is in a crisis, on many levels, and that, if we don’t fix the political system and change things to resolve conflicts such as environmental issues and widening wealth gaps, we’re all going to pay a price.

What Russell Brand teaches us about the world in this particular situation is that a person should always speak up when something needs to be said, when something needs to be changed. Though criticism and backlash will often follow such painfully honest messages, Brand shows us that it is sometimes necessary to brave the waters. Some people will hate you—but others may stand with you.

Brand’s particular situation with BBC Newsnight also teaches audiences that the world can sometimes be a scary place. It’s frightening to fathom what exact effects modern civilization’s political ideology is having on this planet, and also what social issues arise from one person standing up against others for a cause they believe.

Ultimately, what Brand teaches us above all else is that you have to do what you believe is right. Never fall for the obstacles that the opposing world will often create for you.

– Meaghan Hurley
Sources: The Guardian, IMDB, Gawker
Photo: The Province