Brand Awareness


Whether you think that he is Britain’s most important voice or a vain poseur with little understanding of the academic jargon that he is so fond of spouting, there is no doubt that Russell Brand knows a thing or two about self-promotion. Society Marbella takes a look at the some of the highs and lows of the court jester of British politics and asks: is he for real?russell brand-303s

 By India Baltran

The colourful Essex lad is turning his attention to the political arena, we look back at his career highs and lows

 “Some people say that you’ve crossed the line, but I don’t think that there is a line, I think people draw the line in just after you have traversed it.”

From the time that he made his debut in a school production of Bugsy Malone at the age of 15 it seems that Russell Edward Brand has been addicted to the spotlight. This has led to an interesting and varied career that has, over the years, included stand-up comedy, radio and TV presenting, acting, writing and journalism; not a bad tally for someone who suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and has a boundless capacity for self-sabotage.

Despite appearing in various TV projects, including ITV’s popular copshop soap The Bill, Brand first truly entered public consciousness as the presenter of MTV’s Dancefloor Chart and the request show Select, but his days as a video journalist came to a swift end when he arrived at work the day after September the 11th 2001 dressed as Osama Bin Laden. Another lapse in taste would later end his career as a Radio 2 DJ in 2006 when, egged on by his colleague and friend, Jonathan Ross, he made an obscene phone call to Andrew Sachs regarding his granddaughter. Given the fact that the whole of Britain had a massive collective soft spot for Sachs in his guise as the hapless Spanish waiter, Manuel in Fawlty Towers, Brand might as well have goosed the Queen. The resulting firestorm, ably fanned by the tabloids, resulted in both Brand and Ross being banished by the Beeb and another promising career (The Russell Brand Show had proved a hit on its transfer to Radio 2 from Radio 6) bit the dust.

His autobiography, My Booky Wook, was published in 2007 in the white heat of the celebrity memoir craze. Brand’s eccentric account of his singular childhood (battles with his stepfather, a distant relationship with his father who introduced him to prostitutes on a visit to Thailand) and battles with heroin addiction nevertheless gripped the public’s imagination and My Booky Wook sold in its millions and garnered mostly positive reviews from the broadsheets’ literary critics, although its successor My Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal fared less well. In 2008 he signed a £1.8 million two book deal with Harper Collins and, as part of this, published a collection of his columns for The Guardian under the title Articles of Faith. In 2014 he even published a book for children: presumably most parents will feel it necessary to check Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales: The Pied Piper of Hamelin for inappropriate references before allowing their child within a mile of page one. This reworking of the wellloved fairytale is intended to be the first of a series which will presumably allow Brand to preach his message of social and political revolution to a younger generation.

By 2008 Brand was also enjoying more lucrative acting success in Hollywood thanks to a series of medium budget turkeys (his remake of Arthur, the erstwhile Dudley Moore vehicle, was especially badly received). At the same time he had also embarked on a doomed romance with rainbowhaired popsicle, Katy Perry; their lavish October 2010 Indian wedding lasted for several days and became a watchword for tasteless extravagance. In the end the old adage, “the more expensive the wedding, the shorter the marriage” proved accurate and Brand filed for divorce in December 2011, informing Perry by text that, as far as he was concerned, their relationship had run its course.

At this point he had become a fully-fledged political gadfly, his appearances on various chat shows having evolved from his original, arguably charming ‘Victorian cockney urchin’ persona to a more confrontational image. Brand wanted revolution and he wanted it now, although his most notorious appearance on Newsnight neatly bisected public opinion into two separate camps – those who thought him a pretentious, if potentially dangerous oaf and those who claimed that he spoke for a new generation of disenchanted voters. 

Unfortunately for Brand, his ability to win over the disenfranchised and disillusioned has been handicapped by his penchant for jargon, with which he peppers his pronouncements, like a not terribly bright teen who has attended a sixth form Philosophy, Politics and Economics taster course. In a bad-tempered exchange, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls once dubbed him, “a pound shop Ben Elton”; these days, however, it would perhaps be more apt to dub

him a pound shop Michel Foucault or Antonio Gramsci, given his penchant for dropping terms like ‘hegemony’, ‘power dynamics’ and ‘Sisyphean’ into the conversation.


A little learning, as Alexander Pope famously observed, is a dangerous thing, which is possibly why many regard Brand in much the same way that they might a suicidal psychopath with explosive underwear. It is his love for the spotlight, however, which defines his revolutionary campaign. Appearing at a protest with members of Anonymous, Brand could not resist wearing his stylised Guy Fawkes

 “A Halloween-haired, Sachsgate-enacting, estuary-whining, glitter-lacquered, priapic berk… How dare I, from my velvet chaise longue, in my Hollywood home like Kubla Khan, drag my limbs from my harem to moan about the system? A system that has posited me on a lilo made of thighs in an ocean filled with honey and foie gras’d my Essex arse with undue praise and money.”

mask on his head so that press photographers would be rewarded with some prime photo opportunities of the former stand-up comedian in his new job as showbiz anarchist-in-chief.

However, Brand is certainly Man of the Moment in the UK as the country faces an election year. Many have described his exhortation to his fans not to vote as irresponsible and self

defeating, although it does also bring to mind Billy Connolly’s much quoted witticism, “Don’t vote – it only encourages them!”

There is no humour in Brand’s advice, though. His 2014 manifesto, Revolution, is clearly the work of a man who is desperate to be taken seriously as a leading thinker, even as he undercuts

his own arguments with flippancy and philosophical non-sequiturs.   

How long this flirtation with political gravitas will last is anyone’s guess but, given his boundless energy and lack of focus, it will probably not be long before the Essex Don Quixote finds another windmill to engage his attention.  

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