The notorious Mr Brand recently launched emphatic tirades against the government in the New Statesman and on Newsnight, revealing that he has never voted in his life. Most of us are understandably loath to trust a loaded misogynistic egotist, however enthusiastically he argues his radical credentials. However, some of Brand’s admirers are – rather inexplicably – just pleased that he has given anarchism some air time, regardless of his dodgy sexual politics, filthy lucre and frankly scary messiah complex.
In case we’d forgotten what an idiot he was, Brand even considerately began both the New Statesman editorial and the Newsnight interview by informing readers and audience that he’d taken on the task of guest editing the New Statesman because a ‘beautiful woman’ asked him. For those out of the celeb chatter loop (i.e. living in a sound-proof nuclear bunker), the comedian’s many and varied misogynistic misdemeanours include the infamous Sachsgate scandal, which saw ex-Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs lewdly informed by voicemail, live on air on Radio Two, that Brand had slept with his grand- daughter; an incident where he called talk show host Mika Brzezinski a ‘shaft-grasper’ because of the way she was holding a water bottle; and an interview in which he claimed that his “great love of proletariat linguistics” means he can’t help using the words ‘darling’ and ‘bird’ to refer to women.
What, then, do we believe Brand’s seeming defence of anarchism is really about – and will it do anything positive for the movement? It seems to me utterly impossible for a super- rich celebrity and relentless misogynist to be a real proponent of anarchist philosophy. He addresses the former point very briefly and nebulously in his New Statesman editorial, saying:
The hypocrisy – me, working for MTV with my fancy shoes – is a problem that can be taken care of incrementally. I don’t mind giving up some of my baubles and balderdash for a genuinely fair system, so can we create one?.
He also recalls the anger he felt at the ‘moral superiority’ of the left after being recognised on a demo and shouted at because he was a celebrity working for MTV.
The issue of women is addressed only insofar as he makes several references to female sexual attractiveness throughout the piece. Not content with the eye-watering offensiveness of the first line, he hits us with the not-actually-very-funny ‘joke’ that his motivation for going on an aid trip to Kenya was more “to impress women than to aid the suffering”. He later goes on to describe ogling emaciated women with ‘perpendicular pelvis[es]’ on a catwalk.
One imagines him reading this piece now and accusing me of the ‘fucking seriousness’ which, according to him, has rendered socialism too ‘exclusive’ and unable to “compete with Grand Theft Auto and the Premier League”. Mouthing off about tits and arse from your (as you put it) “velvet chaise longue in [your] Hollywood home” isn’t a joke, though, Russell. If you were a real anarchist you’d know that.