Saturday, February 14, 2009

Russell Brand: Weapons grade cock-end






Idiocracy: This too could be you.


In a change to my occasional schedule of angry piss-boiling commentary on politics, I wanted to write on something else briefly:

Trial by mob
I tried. I really did. I can't stand a trial by media or public opinion. I detest it. I was horrified to notice that in the wake of the Brand/Ross "scandal" that the BBC's 'Have your say' fell over during the day because of the deluge of the collective brain fart. Everyone had to have a say. I thought the pair of them had been a couple of idiots, however I was perfectly content to leave it at that and keep my opinion to myself. The incident also happened just as the extent of the global financial crisis was being realised. Whilst major dead-tree press articles on the crisis were attracting maybe 100 comments if they were lucky, in some places, 1000+ comments were being left on the Russell/Brand story. I despaired. I really did.

If I was aggrieved at anything, it was the fact that the BBC licence fee, extracted from myself and millions of others under threat of force is used to pay the pair of them - particularly Ross, with his deal of £18 million over three years. I find that simply obscene, yet I don't have a voice with regard to how the money is spent. It's most definitely taxation without representation. However, this was a position I held before they decided to carry out a live prank phone call, and still hold now.

Charlie Brooker made the point recently in his 'Screenwipe' series that a new era of TV-viewer interaction has begun. He calls it the Dawn of the Dumb. It has primarily resulted from 'reality tv' shows, where viewers have a vote. This has been transferred, in the minds of the viewers, to an overall vote on any TV programme or issue. The viewers can, be weight of enough complaints, cause changes to be made. It would be nice to think that this was a democratic achievement, even if it still results in satisfaction of the lowest common denominator. However, in the case of the BBC there are two major problems with this:

i) The opposite isn't true. That is to say, if the number of commendations outweigh the complaints, the complaints still win. We have seen this in the case of Carol Thatcher.

ii) I'm still forced to pay for this farce, simply for the privilege of having a TV set in my front room to watch DVDs on. I avoid TV programming, and the BBC in particular, like it was some horrible infectious syphilitic walking corpse. As one enterprising chap on Babylon 5 said once: "It is a cultural wasteland full of inappropriate metaphors for reality". And that's just the soap operas.

So...this Russell bloke...

I'd caught the odd clip of Brand performing. I saw 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'. He seemed to be able to entertain competently on and off. The odd comment here and there indicated that he was considered 'edgy' and 'on the pulse'. A friend lent me his [Brand's] autobiography so I put some time aside to read it.

Now, I consider a person's autobiography to be an honest means of appraising a person. It's their own words, not taken out of context by the media, and they have the choice to put their own spin on it. On these grounds I'm willing to come to an opinion on a person, irrespective of what the media says about them.

In case you missed it, I came to the conclusion that this man is and was a weapons grade cock-end. Now to be clear, I don't like to use insults, or expletives too often, unlike some of my swearblogging friends. This isn't because I think there is anything inherently "bad" in use of such language. Far from it. Instead I think it is more powerful if used sparingly, like the occasional bit of violence (which, for all you idealistic do-gooders out there, is sometimes the 'right thing to do'). And in this case, my god, I think the only man to compare him to would be the currently self-destructing Derek Draper. And I've got expletives a plenty for that particular fleischweisen.

Commonalities

What was interesting for me was that, as I first got into his book, I began warming to the man. We appeared to have had a very similar childhood. We're about the same age, had quite a few similar experiences, and even knocked around in the same places. However, as soon as he started describing his crawl into adulthood it appeared we diverged sharply.

This is despite the fact that we still had a lot in common, even in adulthood. He has a terrible weakness for women and sex, despite the fact he is fully capable of seducing many pretty women on a regular basis. I relate directly to that. He also has long hair, likes to dress extravagantly and wear makeup to enhance his looks. Again, all things that I do. He's also not one for not putting up with people telling him what to do.

On the surface you might not see us as too dissimilar. In fact, you might wonder why we are not good drinking pals.

If someone gave a very general outline of his life and activities, and put it alongside mine the difference may not be clear at all. Yet -as the saying goes, the devil is, very literally in the details.

Women

For Russell, women appear to be primarily a self-validation mechanism. They probably are for most men in some respect. The Idiot-lantern constantly tells us that without sexual validation, we're nothing. Right?

As a teenage kid it appears Russell began to learn the art of seduction, picking up that charm, personality and a novel individual appearance (and pathos) can attract sufficient attention to bring women into your orbit. Pretty much the phase I went through too. As he careens into his kidulthood though, Russell begins to attract women through a combination of persistence, bullshit and the fame factor (though the latter was relatively late in coming). I spent my early adulthood doing my best to figure out what I actually wanted (a task that it seems a frightening number of people never actually master).

I don't think Russell figured this one out and women (and inebriation) began to perpetually fill up his ever-increasing self-esteem black hole. He appeared to blame a lot of this on his childhood. Yet the life he describes was no harder than mine, and a damn sight easier than the lives some of my best friends have had. It all comes down to that classic idea that it is how you choose to react to events and circumstances - "Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him".

Russell's is an epic fail on this point. As he became a Kidult he became the master of his own downfall, and this was despite some incredible opportunities coming his way. He simply had to feed the self-esteem monster you see.

So - women and sex. I have tried monogomy a few times. It isn't for me. Instead I have open-relationships with my partners. And they have been, consistently, much more successful, loving and beneficial all round than my monogomous arrangements. I find many people make all sorts of assumptions about this that they simply are not justified, or equipped, to make. It's the kind of relationship that drives The Righteous nuts.

Open relationships force a kind of sincerity and honesty on you and your partners that you simply don't have in monogomy. For one thing, it absolutely forces you to not take the other(s) for granted. They have the option, just like you, to go elsewhere. If you're in sync with one another, they will always come back to you, and you to them. Contrary to many erroneous assumptions, it also brings your standards way up. I look to maximise the amount of mutually enjoyable (emotional as well as sexual) experiences I can have with as many high-quality (confident, intelligent, driven, creative, know what they want are my criteria) women as I can in life. This actually means I say 'no' more often than I say 'yes'.

You see it all comes down to self-esteem. People with low self-esteem cannot understand how such a relationship could ever work. In their heads, some kind of ownership of the 'other' has to take place in order to vouchsafe your fragile ego. I don't know how many times I, or my partner(s) have been lectured on this, that I / we have "never really been in love". Very confident, secure people however, can see how this kind of relationship can work, even if they don't wish to engage in it themselves. It's an excellent litmus test for figuring out people you have just met.

Brand's self-esteem appears to be chronically low. He has fulfilled the role of the spectacular, had his ego massaged by hacks who realised they can play off of his self-destructive ("edgy") tendencies and bully him into incredible acts of stupidity (if you liked 'Jackass', and also winced at the fact people felt these were good things to do to themselves for 'entertainment' (approval), wait till you read this biography). He blames it variously on life-circumstances and his "addictive personality". The cult of celebrity seems to produce a lot of these.

Celebration?

The term 'celebrity' originally referred to people of great skill and talent. You referred, for example to the "celebrated" playright, Shakespeare, or the "celebrated" artist, Michael Angelo. For the most part, this notion of talent appears to have shrunk horrifically to good presentation and blagging skills at best, and willing displays of incohate idiocy at worst. Brand has certainly sucked from both of these teats to build his career and create a bloated "celebrity" construction of "edgy" behaviour.

He has been placed on the throne as one of the many Kings of Idiots. Appropriately channeled through the medium of the almighty One-eyed monster. (Yes, I guess that goes for his penis, not just a synonym for the TV too).

Occasionally Brand drops in a word like 'misogyny' as some way of mild contrition. The fact is though, throughout the book he doesn't actually display one iota of actual, sincere contrition. He reminds me of these colllectivist-anarchists who say how they are "aware" of gender issues, and 'right-on', yet still have severe emotional and sexual issues with women. Poor buggers can't even get out of that one through experience though as the collectivist-anarchists attract a lot of the Righteous. The Original Sin of men will be sure to keep them in place and not allow them to admit that yes, they (like women) actually want to fuck different people, and often. The only thing worse than a right-wing conservative prude is a left-wing version.

I got half way through the book and began hating the man earnestly. I had to push through to the end though, for the same reasons I have to continue following the antics of Labour's Clown Extraordinaire, Derek Draper. The path of self-inflicted destruction is incredible to behold, and a fantastic example unto others. He often tries to spruce up his account with some literary references. He painfully fumbles quite a few of them. And with this dickhead, artistic licence just doesn't cut it as an excuse.

Russell leaves us, after describing his rollercoaster wreck of a life, at the end telling us that he is a changed man after having attended a 'sex-addicts' clinic in the U.S. It's his "addictive" personality again you see. Never mind the fact that 99% of the rest of humanity also has this problem in adulthood - it's called feeling horny you dipshit.

His memory, however, appears to be shorter than that of his adulating fuckwit fanbase - for, after ploughing through to the end, I actually remembered what he actually said in the first chapter. He said, just prior to completing the book he'd just given in again to his weakness for pointless encounters thanks to his wafer-thin willpower (and self-esteem, though he leaves that bit out). He makes a big, almost puritan, deal of the fact that he was also clean of drugs and alcohol. I'd have some sympathy and respect for the man if it weren't for the fact that he was using these as escapes from problems completely of his own making. He doesn't seem to intuit that many people drink or take drugs because they have a lot of problems that are not of their own doing.

Brand is supposed to be one of the country's best. He'd like us to believe he's that uber-confident, together bloke in 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall', perpetually on the up-side of a bi-polar disorder. He's not. Instead he personifies what is broken. No responsibility for anything (it's all paid for chaps!) and the adulation of the inert and the feeble-minded.

Gods help us all.

2 comments:

MARA MACSEOININ said...

I agree, he's a dreadful creature - no matter how dispassionately one looks at him and his background. And you're so right: the endless harking-back to a so-called dreadful childhood is the most nauseating, defeatist, excuse designed to keep psychoanalysts in business at £150-an-hour. Plenty of people have had dreadful childhoods, or childhoods characterised by neglect, or displacement. Barack Obama's background doesn't exactly fulfill the criteria for a 'stable average all-American upbringing': and look what he has achieved. I do feel that social 'scientists' have had far too much license to excuse away people's behaviour on the basis of 'lack of nurture' (for example an earnest social worker arguing on behalf of young Billy who at the age of seven beat his parents to death with a tyre iron because he was forced to wear hand-knitted jerseys and his Nintendo was taken away on schoolnights.) All it leads to is a lack of culpability and personal responsibility, as if none of us has free will. If you are going to indulge in certain kinds of behaviour - to which you have freely and unashamedly 'owned up' - do so honestly; bleating 'it's not my fault' will only allow one's political masters to treat one like an inept, morally bankrupt child.

Katabasis said...

Hi Mara,
indeed, as much as I'm willing to consider anyone's mitigating circumstances, there is always, at some point, a choice made.

You're right (and as much as I dislike him as a latter day Tony Blair), Obama is a great example to remind people of, even though like the rest of the political class he surely engaged in the usual tactics for climbing the greasy pole.

As you say, this burgeoning 'not my fault' culture is helping the government to treat us like children in a frighteningly literal fashion. It's 'all for our own good'.