Russell Brand subverts MSNBC in style as chat show hosts self destruct

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In an all too rare hijack of comfortably numb media ‘reductio ad blandum’, Russell Brand has taken US television by storm. Appearing on MSNBC’s breakfast show, ‘Morning Joe’ with an anchor who rather rudely claimed never to have heard of him but had been informed (with a hint of sarcasm) that he was a ‘big deal’, he proceeded to bamboozle her and her two sidekicks into on air shell-shock.


Asked casually about his upcoming comedy tour, he immediately unsettled them by stating that his show, ‘The Messiah Complex’ explores how Malcolm X, Gandhi, Che Guevara and Jesus Christ “are significant culturally and how icons are appropriated and used to designate consciousness and meaning….they’re all people that died for a cause, they’re all people whose icons are used to designate meaning, perhaps not in the manner in which they intended.” US religious right anyone?

This was not at all the sort of uber light, plastic, scripted stuff they are used to on US daytime TV. As the chat catapulted towards cringe, Mika Brzezinski grew increasingly twitchy and her two co-hosts’ feeble, wooden attempts to engage started to sound increasingly offensive as they referred to Brand in the third person.

“You’re talking about me as if I’m not here, and as if I’m an extra-terrestrial,” he noted

“You shouldn’t say he when a person is present. You should refer to that person by their name. That’s basic good manners”

As the conversation grew ever more painful, the presenters made the mistake of discussing his outfit and his accent.

“Look beyond the superficial, that’s the problem with current affairs, you forget about what’s important, you allow the agenda to be decided by superficial information – what am I saying – what am I talking about – don’t think about what I’m wearing, these things are redundant, superficial – don’t be distracted. Thank you for your casual objectification,” interjected Brand

Swivelling on his chair he began to gently mock the entire framework of modern media. Pointing at the armies of people looking industrious on computers, he mused on whether they were all watching porn or ‘tweeting themselves senseless’

He then turned in a twinkling yet chiding way on the presenters themselves

“This is what you all do for a living? People of America, we’re going to be okay, everything’s alright. These are your trusted anchors.”

He then grabbed some papers as if to do the news himself and instantly brought up the two whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, who he has been campaigning for. ‘Morning Joe had never seen anything like it


It was like watching a car crash involving formulaic faux banter between the inanely conventional, and overwhelmingly charged, subversive intellect.

Brzezinski by this point seemed both intimidated by him and to find the whole experience terrifyingly erotic. As she clutched a bottle in Freudian style Brand threw the final grenade

“What do you think that gesture means, the way you’re touching that bottle? What’s the subtext of that? You need to lose that ring Mika, ‘cause it don’t meaning nothing to you.

“’She’s grasping for the shaft. She’s a shaft grasper.”

The cherry on the cake of class was that Brand remained unruffled throughout – was neither rude, nor overly talkative. He behaved like a normal human being and they self destructed around him, as if they had no experience of real people with wit and intellect.

As the web lit up with the clip, MSNBC was in damage limitation mode, editing it down and describing it as ‘flirting’

They may never have heard of Russell Brand before , but they certainly won’t forget him

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

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