Yoshee Hummel reviews a new style of political engagement, 'The Guardian Live' - an informal political debate with Russel Brand and Owen Jones that was broadcast live to theatres around the UK.
So, I’m not sure if it’s just me but there seems to be a real judgement surrounding anyone who ventures forth with their opinion, proudly displaying their proverbial placard. The problem is the lexicon. We are increasingly giving up on the written word and replacing it with reaction images and in politics not only is it mandatory that you are supremely articulate, even if you are just talking for the sake of talking but you need to really know your stuff, or appear so. And I don’t know about you but understanding the economy is a mind-boggling. You know when you can’t understand someone and there are a limited number of times you can ask them to repeat or explain before you think forget it, nod, smile and vow to just avoid them. And I think that’s why a lot of people feel ill qualified to join the conversation. I end up reverting to the 2 Cow economic model.
The irony of watching the debate live in a cinema in Hampstead was not lost on me, but it was practically booked out so that can only be a good thing. I went knowing that I was bound to come away mesmerised as always at the nature of his rhetoric but that ultimately I have heard it all before and there’s nothing new that he could add to it...
To be honest, it’s such a breath of fresh air just having two articulate laidback intelligent ‘lads’ having a deep chat about modern politics. Owen Jones took the constant comments about his baby face with humour and the viewers at the venue as well as in the cinema laughed throughout. This is how it should be.
It’s interesting to analyze Brand’s appeal and for me, bar his other attributes it’s his humour and honesty. Whether you agree with him or not I defy anyone to take up the argument that this man is not the definition of honest, something that is evidently void in practically all areas of the media, on a personal level as well as a representative one. He can sit there waxing lyrical about his flaws, his fight against his own assumptions, and his battle against his own ego.
I think he also taps into the modern ‘adult’, something Dave Cam and Nigel Farage are trying on for size. The adult of... old, ‘grow up’ ‘act your age’ has been replaced by a new fun, laid back, humorous model. Think gifs/reaction images/viral vids/cats; just this week my colleague sent an email to IT requesting I have the full range of emojii’s and let’s not forget the viral video featuring two news anchors showing off their dance moves carefully crafted over their twenty years of working together to be performed during the ad breaks. Let’s not be so serious if we can help it.
It’s these two qualities that are setting Brand apart. We have many learned individuals in the media but they aren’t relatable. The media have a tendency of Homogenising as God forbid you say something authentic to hinder the profit margins. Not necessarily a new thing however it feels more transparent and poignant somehow. Some would call it ‘media training’... I call it character cleansing.
So my gripe and issue with Russell is if you’re going to lead the revolution, tell us what we need to do...
I stand corrected. He was actually extremely clear on what his role is in all of this and how everyone should approach the change that is a foot, and that is to choose a path that plays to your strengths. He has the gift of the gab and where he goes the media doth follow thus being able to shine a light on the people and issues of his choice. At the risk of quoting all of The Life of Brian ‘He’s not the messiah...he’s a very naughty boy’ couldn’t possibly be more apt and it is unfair to expect more. You cannot underestimate the value of an influential figure endorsing your product.
Why are his neigh Sayers feigning the irrefutable fact that celebrity endorsements are rife and why is it acceptable to endorse products for no other reason as to increase their own personal gain and brand but reprimand a man for promoting an ideology with the intention of benefiting the masses and any product sold or platform he is placed on is to only further promote his position, even declaring the profits be used for the cause?
It is perplexing as to why anyone can criticize his efforts. How he dresses, his past, how he speaks/writes is irrelevant to his fundamental cause; to further highlight the nonsense that is happening in Britain and around the world. If you don’t believe anything is wrong with our society then no worries, you keep that head wedged firmly in the sandpit. For everyone else, simply see him as a mouthpiece for the things a lot of us are thinking as well as helping people open their eyes to new ideas, philosophies and alternatives from other thinkers.
We do deserve more and what better than to use the phrase he used on the night to end this post; ‘Democracy is the Excalibur of politics; let’s not use it to fix the toaster’.