British comedian and activist Russell Brand had a long — and occasionally testy — conversation with Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman about the current political environment and his place in it.
The interview began rather heatedly, with Goodman imploring Brand not to use profanity on the air. “Even though there are a lot of obscenities in the world, please don’t use them on Democracy Now today, or our stations will be taken off the air,” she said. “There are children who are listening and watching right now. There are adults. There are senior citizens.”
“You’re really concerned about that,” Brand replied. “Did they say, ‘Just say it to him on air’? Honestly, I don’t swear very often. This evening, I’m performing at the Royal Albert Hall, London, before an audience of children. I won’t swear, I promise. You’re perfectly safe.”
After a brief discussion of his childhood, and another about his battle with drug and alcohol addiction, Goodman asked him about his contentious appearance on Morning Joe last year.
“What happened was,” he said, “is I went onto the television, and I was trying my hardest to be nice, and everyone was rude to me. So I defended myself, under the protocols of Britain, by just saying, ‘Stop bullying me, you lot. And also be more professional. If you’re going to condescend to someone, don’t condescend from the gutter.'”
This is why, he explained, he started The Trews. “I’m proud of The Trews,” he said, “because what it does is it gives us an opportunity to provide an alternative news narrative. What I’ve noticed since I’ve come in this sphere of public debate talking about politics, which I do in my book with, like, input from insightful and brilliant figures such as Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, that, like, it’s sort of like people are having a go at me, like I’m not allowed to participate.”
Brand later spoke of Chomsky in a different context, asking Goodman whether it was “true that your dad went to summer camp with Chomsky? And if it is true, I bet Chomsky was boring on summer camp.”
“OK, I’m not doing that,” Brand said, impersonating a camp-age Chomsky. “That’s childish. No, come on, sit down. This summer camp is corrupt. I refuse to abide by this system, while it’s quite clear that this summer camp is run by the interests of the leaders there, and we, the children, are not given any time to be free.”
While Goodman played a clip of Chomsky speaking before the United Nations, she apparently informed Brand that Chomsky once bit her father.
“What’s more important” than Chomsky’s statement at the UN, Brand said, “is you just admitted while that was on that Noam Chomsky bit your father. That’s a good quote. That should be on the New York Post front page. ‘Chomsky bit my father!’ Especially if it’s called ‘Chompsky’ — ‘Chompsky bit my father!'”
“I’m sorry Noam,” Goodman replied. “I’m really sorry, this got a little out of hand.”
Once he set kidding aside, Brand assured Goodman that “I love Noam Chomsky,” before reading a lengthy excerpt about the renowned MIT linguist from his book Revolution.
As the interview drew to a close, Goodman asked him what gave him hope, to which he replied, “everything gives me hope.”
“My hope comes from the fact that I know that everybody wants change,” Brand continued. “I know that people are not apathetic. I know that people are ready for change. I know that alternatives are possible and that you constantly see how hard the establishment has to work to maintain order.”
“We, people in the media, have an obligation to reframe this argument, to tell people that they can change the world, that we are connected to one another. We have more in common with each other. We have more in common with the people we’re bombing than the people we’re bombing them for. People that say the system works work for the system. We can change the world — and Noam Chomsky is a cannibal.”
Watch the entire interview via Democracy Now! — which begins approximately 20 minutes into the video — below.