Jesus, Che and the Pied Piper

Perfect gift: Brand's Revolution

Perfect gift: Brand's Revolution

British It-Boy Russell Brand has a new mission: Revolution.

Long, black curls, a dark beard and a missionary sparkle in his brown eyes: Russell Brand could be Jesus Christ. Or Che Guevara. Or both: Messiah and Revolutionary.

Brand has been through a lot in life. He was a drug addict. He was poor. But he was, and is, also witty and a workaholic. Otherwise, almost nothing reminds the 39-year-old star of his childhood and youth. The underprivileged son of a single mother from Grays in Essex, East of London, turned into Britain’s most proliferous It-Boy: He is a comedian, entertainer and actor, as well as Katy Perry’s ex-husband.

His last tour was, not without self-irony, called: “The Messiah Complex”. His new mission: “Revolution”, which is also conveniently the title of his latest book - available to hungry readers at 9.99 pounds in supermarkets up and down the country. The book is on its way up on bestseller lists. Brand has been a star for a while and the book feeds mainly on his celebrity status. Brand is everywhere. He is successful as actor (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Despicable Me”, “Arthur”) and as video blogger. In his daily “Trews”-Blog – a combination of “True” and “News” – he analyses current events, he claims, “truthfully, spontaneously and under great risk for my personal freedom”. He has 760,000 subscribers on YouTube; 2.9 millions of Facebook friends; and 8.4 million followers on Twitter.

Nobody seems to be bothered by the fact that Brand’s ideas are rather simplistic. “Boycott the elections!” is one of his central demands. He himself proudly proclaims to have never voted. It was this confession on „Newsnight“ with BBC-Superinterviewer Jeremy Paxman, which prompted Brand to think about revolution as a practical concept. It certainly became a bestselling book idea. „They say to me now: People died so you have the right to vote!“, he writes in Revolution: „No, they did not, they died for freedom….I don’t imagine they’d have been so willing if they’d known how tokenistic voting was to become.“

Brand expects the fall of the political system because no one trusts the political class any longer. He certainly hits a nerve there. The elite in Great Britain gets richer while the majority of the population, including the middle class, can hardly afford to go for dinner in their over priced capital. So far only the right populist politician Nigel Farage profited – in political terms - from this development. His UKIP party - fiercely anti-EU and anti-immigration - won its second parliament seat from a defected Tory MP at by-election last week in Rochester.

Now it’s time for Russell Brand. He is England’s Beppo Grillo. Like the Italian, the British comedian’s successful grab for attention is largely caused by untrustworthy political leadership. Party leader David Cameron, who lacks political vision, and his clumsy opponent „Red Ed“ Miliband just cannot get it right. They lack charisma and give the impression that their upper lip is glued to their teeth.

Brand does not have these problems. In talk shows and video blogs he is constantly showing off two rows of perfectly white teeth, laughing out loud while he chats chirpily about every subject he fancies – he seems to be thoroughly enjoying life and might actually believe in his mission to better the world.

Indeed, his „Trews“-clips contain a daily dose of enlightenment: Terror militia IS and jihadis from Great Britain? For Brand - dark red T-Shirt, rivet bracelet – it certainly isn’t a reason to ask for stricter immigration policies: this gets him 100,000 views on Youtube.

„Pick-Up“-artist Julien Blanc and his rape seminars? Brand - naked upper body, white towel teasingly draped over his shoulder - is „100 % full heartedly“ against „treating women without respect“: 144,000 views.

The shady practices of the NSA? Brand - open white shirt, trendy necklace - thinks it’s a political and economic plot to secure power for the elite by claiming to fight terror.

Meanwhile, even the serious „Financial Times“ opened its doors for Brand. The intrepid columnist Lucy Kellaway met Brand for a „Lunch with the FT“ and admitted after the meeting in a soup kitchen in East London - whose charity concept Brand elegantly sold at the same time - to have somewhat fallen for this „charismatic, noisy revolutionary“.

Recently he filled the Royal Albert Hall with kids and parents, listening to his reading of his new children’s book. He retold the „Trickster Tales: the Pied Piper of Hamelin“. It is hard NOT to make a connection between the old German tale of a men who leads rats and children alike out of their home city - and Russell Brand’s apparent need for followers.

But where will he lead them? Someone who wants to boycott elections might find it difficult to become a politician. But these narrow-minded self-restrictive thoughts are not for Russell Brand. Recently, he considered running against Boris Johnson as mayor of London. After a few days of media hype he pulled back: „No, I won’t do it. We already have a comedian in that job.“

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© 2018 Tessa Szyszkowitz