All entries for Wednesday 30 July 2008

July 30, 2008

That Russell Brand Incident

I wasn’t going to bother blogging about this. I figured it’d pass but it seems to be turning into one of those stories that will not die so here we go…

I used to be a Brand-hater. He rose to fame and was associated with Big Brother, which put us off on the wrong foot. He was all over the tabloids shagging everything that moved, which didn’t help raise my opinion of him at all. And he played this ridiculous crazy character that was clichéd and over the top.

But when I actually stopped to pay attention for a little while, listen to some interviews and watch some of his documentaries he actually appeared as an erudite, smart, intelligent man. His comedy still wasn’t really to my taste – there were some decent jokes but too much of it relied on the entire cult of personality he’s built up. It’s sometimes funny when it goes somewhere interesting but gets tiresome when it’s focused on his ‘winkie’. Nevertheless it seemed obvious to me that he wasn’t some sort of moron. He’s a smart guy.

Which is why this was so depressing:

If you don’t want to watch it all, I don’t blame you. It’s rubbish, actually. Horribly poor and lazy as comedy before we get to anything else. Basically, he reads about a newspaper story involving a sexual assault, and calls the emergency police response number for witnesses or people that may have seen the attacker and prank calls them.

It’s a retarded thing to do. Not because it’s bad taste like Jon Gaunt accuses him of, that I can live with. There shouldn’t be taboos in comedy over things like this. It’s retarded because it’s prank calling the emergency services, meaning that some poor person who’s been attacked or might have important information about a crime or such can’t get through because he’s busy making a joke. You don’t prank call the emergency services. You just don’t. Because you never know when you might need them and you wouldn’t want the ambulance to turn up 5 minutes too late to save your leg next time you have an accident.

Still, it was a stupid thing to do, but he wouldn’t be the first comic to do a stupid thing on stage and won’t be the last. He’ll apologise, it’ll blow over and that’s that right? Except not, as the apologies started coming out. First on his Radio 2 show where he goes on a brilliant and entirely correct rant about how the likes of YouTube allow certain things that are said at comedy gigs to be taken out of that context and hence appear more offensive than they should be. About how he didn’t expect anyone linked to the assaults to be there in that room, and if by some small chance they were, he’d have explained what he was trying to do by joking about it and apologised for any offence caused. About how he rightfully hates how the media get obsessed with being offended on someone else’s behalf, even though that someone would never have heard the joke if they hadn’t increased it’s audience from 200 people in a comedy club to 2 million people in a national newspaper. It’s all completely right, and again proves that he’s someone with his head stuck on the right way around and that knows what he’s talking about. It does of course, utterly fail to address the number one criticism from most people: that he was prank calling the emergency services. Wasting police time. It’s a crime, and rightfully so.

So benefit of the doubt again, maybe he’s trying to play down that element, it is very embarrassing and after all the likes of Jon Gaunt attacked him from enough angles that he could rail against the rest of it, ignore the bit where he actually screwed up, pretend it never happened and just never do it again.

Asked if he would do it again, he said: ‘Who knows, possibly. You can never rule that out, that’s the nature of spontaneity, things just sometimes happen.

For fuck’s sake.

I can’t believe he’s not smart enough to understand why people are angry that he prank-called the police. I just can’t. Because he’s not. So I don’t understand what the hell is going on here? Is he milking it for publicity because he hasn’t shagged enough movie stars this month? Is he trying to create some bad boy image for himself? Or is he trying to play the “I’m too dumb” card, pretending he can’t see what’s wrong with it until the interviewer finally calls him on that specific element and he has some sort of ‘revelation’ and apologies for it. But none of them have yet.

I’m confused, I really am, but I’m definitely swinging back to my initial position of hating Russell Brand and this time I feel justified.

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