5 November 2008

Russell Brand

As the world’s “most famous teetotal vegetarian sex insect”, Russell Brand has irked and delighted with his verbose cockney patois, making him Britain’s most imitated export since Manuel himself. Post-Sachsgate, Brand has quit the BBC, and disappeared to America to perform stand-up and reprise his Hollywood success. So should we be rejoicing that he’s off our screens? Or mourning the disappearance of an unpredictable burgeoning talent in British entertainment?

It’s not at all difficult to see why many find Brand so profoundly irritating – his Edwardian pimp image pervades TV, radio, cinema, the press, and literature, and when working within the constraints of the primetime, he’s rehashing the same wildly-delivered but forced and tired lines – “swines”, “ballbags” and “Hare Krishna” to name but a few. But in a television climate where permasmiler Fearne Cotton and the languidly “hip” Alexa Chung and Alex Zane hold the fort, surely it’s refreshing to have a loose canon on the scene, whose every move isn’t predictable sycophancy (as is the wont of Sachsgate’s other victim, Jonathan Ross)? And who didn’t get a sniggering sense of Schadenfreude, watching the Jonas Brothers weep as Brand ridiculed their chastity rings?

Stephen Fry, on his superb blog, recently wrote of the “pheme” theory with regard to fame, whereby the celebrity doesn’t necessarily seek to be well-liked or well-known, but the very act of talking about them, even in a negative or scandalous sense, exacerbates their notoriety. Andrew Sachs’ burlesque dancer granddaughter certainly seems to have caught onto this notion (besides, who has sex with Russell Brand, lets on that their granddad is famous, and doesn’t expect it to materialise in the act of a man whose whole career rests on innuendo and rudery?), and despite their apparent outrage, Auntie Beeb has perpetuated this theory by employing Brand in the first place – after his sacking from MTV and XFM, it’s incredulous to believe that the BBC thought he would tone down his act. To an extent it’s a safe bet – he can never be held up for drinking, falling out of clubs or taking drugs, as it’s old news.

Whether you like sex-obsessive Brand or not, it’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that the Daily Mail are the biggest criminals in this tale – if they’re so morally affronted at Brand’s behaviour, why do they constantly reinforce his image? Their incitement of mass hysteria, leading angry Mail Online surfers to kiss the arse of “national treasure Andrew Sachs” and sales of Brand’s collection of excellent Guardian columns to dwindle, is exponentially more offensive than calling a president “that retarded cowboy fella”.

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