Russell Brand on Newsnight - The Revolution is Televised

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Russell Brand’s appearance on Newsnight has crowned a magnificent few months for celebrity culture’s most switched on rogue. His transformation from highly sexed clown to penetrating social commentator has been electrifying, and he now seems to be one of the only people in the mass media actually articulating an intelligent, conscious perspective. Perhaps his knockabout persona was what made him palatable to the media – far more so than a preaching activist or a dry political theorist, but he has managed with extraordinary verve, to use his celebrity to address some very serious issues.

As Paul Mason, former Newsnight economics editor said in his new role as digital and culture editor for Channel 4 News:

“Russell versus Jeremy was a big cultural event, akin maybe to one of those David Frost interviews in the Profumo era, only in this case it's the interviewee, not the interviewer, who speaks for the upcoming generation.

Because while on my timeline everybody over 40 is saying, effectively, "tee hee, isn't Brand outrageous", a lot of people in their twenties are saying simply: Russell is right, bring it on.”

He bamboozled Jeremy Paxman in ways that doubtless had every politician that has suffered at the Newsnight anchor’s hands writhing in envy, down to his withering dismissal of Paxman’s tears on ‘Who do you Think You Are ‘ as “emotional porn” when seen alongside the scale of exploitation of people and resources today.

As two perspectives collided – the aging establishment and the disaffected voice of intelligent youth calling out systematic injustice, it felt like a seminal moment. If seminal sounds a touch hyperbolic, consider the arch interrogator of the political class ending up apparently representing the establishment as belief systems and world views clashed. One wonders if Paxman was really quite as discombobulated as he appeared or whether his approach was designed to provoke his interviewee's outrage – though it seems that the former is more likely.

VIDEO: Newsnight - Russell Brand vs Jeremy Paxman - Full Interview

Meanwhile, his call for revolution and call to not vote has been interpreted, misinterpreted and paraphrased across a breathless media. But he is winning a whole new swathe of respect and a constant refrain across social networks boils down to “I used to think he was an idiot but now I see him very differently’

But while it is difficult not to agree with him in very large part, it might be worth remembering that at least in the West, apathetic consumerism is as pernicious a problem as the self serving behaviour of politicians and corporations. So bearing that in mind – perhaps just watching the Youtube clip on your iPhone, liking it on Facebook and then moving on isn’t enough to genuinely shift a corrupt matrix.

Whatever trajectory things take in coming months and years, one wonders if something genuinely has to give or whether consumerism will see the ideas keep blazing while any action sits on a permanent backburner. Let's hope not.

And ultimately it's not even about 'Brand for PM'. It's about a voice in corporate celebrity culture and a mass media dominated by vested interests speaking out about these issues. A revolution may be a pipe dream - it may not - but even if a generation whose alternatives are MTV and Miley Cyrus are being prompted to think along these lines, then one battle is already won. But whatever does happen, one thing is for sure, this revolution is already being televised.

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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