Actor Russell Brand reduces BBC newsman to stunned silence with diatribe against corporate oligarchy
Actor and comedian Russell Brand is calling for a political and philosophical revolution in his guest editorship of the New Statesman magazine, and he explained what he wants to see in a passionately argued interview on BBC’s “Newsnight.”
Combative host Jeremy Paxman asked the British actor, who’s known for his past drug use and his brief marriage to pop singer Katy Perry, what gave him the right to promote his political beliefs, particularly since he’s never voted.
“I don’t get my authority from this preexisting paradigm, which is quite narrow and only serves a few people,” Brand said. “I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity.”
He continued, issuing reams of prose even as the veteran TV reporter challenged him to defend his arguments.
“I am not not voting out of apathy,” Brand said. “I am not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations.”
Paxman asks Brand to describe what his revolution would look like.
“I think what it won’t be like is a huge disparity between rich and poor, where 300 Americans have the same amount of wealth as their 85 million poorest Americans, where there is an exploited underserved underclass being continually ignored, where welfare is slashed while Cameron and Osborne go to court to continue the right of bankers receiving bonuses,” Brand said.
Paxman is unable to derail Brand, who comments on the newsman’s beard and urges him to grow it until he can tangle it with his armpit hairs, even when he calls the actor a “very trivial man.”
Eventually, the TV host is reduced to somewhat stunned silence by the loquacious and earnest Brand, who says he recalls seeing Paxman cry when he learned that his great-grandmother had been “f*cked over” by the aristocrats when the newsman appeared on the show, “Who Do You Think You Are,” which examines the family trees of celebrities.
“You cried because you knew it was unfair and unjust, and that was just – what was that, a century ago? – and that’s happening to people now,” Brand said.
The actor said he wanted to take that sense of injustice that’s innately familiar to many and put it to use.
“If we can engage that feeling instead of some moment of lachrymose sentimentality trotted out in the TV for people to pore over emotional porn, if we can engage that feeling and to change things, why wouldn’t we?” Brand said. “Why is that naïve; why is that not my right because I’m an ‘actor’? I mean, I’ve taken the right. I don’t need the right from you. I don’t need the right from anybody; I’m taking it.”
Watch video of the interview posted on YouTube by BBC:
Update: Corrected the spelling of the BBC broadcaster’s name.