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Russell Brand – Lefty? October 30, 2008

Posted by Garibaldy in Culture.
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1. Joe - October 30, 2008

“Yes I ‘ave been a very naughty boy and I am very sorry for upsettin’ so many old people. But you ‘ave to wonder. Where was all them 27000 old fogeys who complained to the BBC about wot I said, when that geezer in the picture behind me was up to ‘is tricks, eh? ‘Alf of ‘em was in the bleedin’ Communist Party, wasn’t they? I’m just sayin’ that there ‘ave been worse people in this world than me, that’s all.”

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2. WorldbyStorm - October 30, 2008

Yeah, that’s about the size of it…

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3. sonofstan - October 30, 2008

Suggesting, perhaps, that he has been the ‘victim’ of a show trial?

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4. Omar Little - October 30, 2008

Brand is a tool of the highest order. But Ross is the real wanker here. He practically molests any of the female guests on his show, dominates every interview by talking about himself and is generally an example of how to throw good money after bad. I think it was Terry Christian who said that Ross just ‘licks the arses of those guests with more money than him and picks on those who have less.’

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5. WorldbyStorm - October 30, 2008

Yeah, squared… couldn’t agree more.

The most obnoxious aspect of the whole debacle is that Ross is someone who has made light of the amount of money he earns compared with others in the BBC. There’s something seriously out of whack there…

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6. Harpymarx - October 31, 2008

Who cares? Are there real issues of insightful political principled commentary made by Dross and Bland..? Nada. Instead we have two “lads” acting in a puerile, junvenile and sexist manner (“oi, my mate f*cked your grand daughter”). The parody, the satire, the humour… I don’t think so.
If this is the finest the BBC has got then words fail me, if they are at the top of the comedy hierarchy then it shows what a dumbed down brand (no pun intended) of humour there is out there. Leaving messages on someone’s answer machine and taking the pi*s isn’t clever. A woman being made the butt of some crude sexist demeaning humour just isn’t worth the cash those idiots are supposedly worth.

Well, after that commercial break back to the economic crisis ……..

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7. skidmarx - October 31, 2008

5. Does that mean that because Ross has joked about his enormous wages any attack on him is fair?

I listened to Ian Cognito on BBC7 om Monday explaiming that he had once started to criticise a joke another comic had told an regretted it as he really disliked being told what material he could and couldn’t do. As a result I’m reluctant to say what I think of Ross and Brand as this story is not about that, it’s about a Mail inspired campaign to rid the airwaves of anything that differs from its sense of decency. There is a difference between agreeing that maybe this isn’t the finest the BBC has to offer and wanting to substitute the judgement of the mob for that of the BBC producers. Or there ought to be.

I was quite surpised given the reaction that he had actually fucked the grand-daughter (Someone else who has had to resign for telling the truth). Andrew Sachs’ reaction was that they were performers, they’d made a mistake, they’d apologised, that should be the end of it. What right then has anyone else got to start a moral panic with this as the pretext ? His grand-daughter’s supposed outrage was clearly just to give an angle so as to get paid off by The Sun, though as far as the suggestions that she has worked as a dominatrix go, one thing we learned from the Jeffrey Archer libel case is that even sex workers should be treated with some respect.

I think there’s some amusing Beavis & Butthead prank calls footage on youtube but I can’t access the site just now.

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8. WorldbyStorm - October 31, 2008

No, but it does seek to explain why I think Ross is architect of his own downfall.

I think however that there are reasonable questions to be asked about wage disparities inside the BBC, or indeed inside the meeja more broadly.

I do think though that the calls to Sachs were indicative of a misogynistic dynamic, attack a man – even in jest, by talking about sex with his grand-daughter, which is more troubling again. The power relationships are utterly crazy here. And while that may in the context of international issues be minor, in terms of societal issues I think there is some merit in examining it more closely.

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9. skidmarx - November 1, 2008

Probably a lot to be said about wage disparities in society in general. I didn’t see calls for Ross to be sacked just because of his wages before this happened, so it seems clearly to be an excuse. This really does seem to be the “tall poppy” syndrome that the Right often claims the Left is guilty of (see the Rush song “The Trees”).

A message left by two men on another man’s answerphone is indicative of a misogynistic dynamic ? With the best will in the world I can’t see this as a great act of bullying that a number of people have claimed.

I talked to a female revolutionary socialist on Thursday who said she didn’t like Ross or Brand, but this was getting to the stage where it was like the death of Lady Di.

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10. ejh - November 1, 2008

I’m astonished and outraged that Ross and Brand should behave like this. Prior to the present controversy I had bracketed them with Jacob Bronowski.

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11. harpymarx - November 1, 2008

“I do think though that the calls to Sachs were indicative of a misogynistic dynamic, attack a man – even in jest, by talking about sex with his grand-daughter, which is more troubling again. The power relationships are utterly crazy here. And while that may in the context of international issues be minor, in terms of societal issues I think there is some merit in examining it more closely.”

WbS: I think that is a very good point and it is worth examining closely especially issues of power (and sorry if my original comment came across as flippant). There is no political insight or real expression of humour. Just seems like a crass attack on a woman and her grandfather. Brand and Ross wielding the power and using his personal experience to attack and humiliate. Where’s the humour? Why drag in this young woman if it wasn’t about wielding power and to humilate? What the hell did they have to drag their own humour to the gutter.
Do you have to side with the Daily Mail and co. to find this offensive? Sorry, but as a woman I am sick and tired of seeing women being demeaned and become a butt of sexist jokes. Two bloatedly over paid juvenile lads who play schoolboy pranks get paid an obscene amount. This is not cutting edge humour it is sexism and where a woman bears the cost of this humiliation. That is why I am pissed off not about “moral decency” but sick and tired of women being the butt of jokes.
And what also gets to me is now some of the tabloids are attacking Georgina cos of what she does (shock! horror! she is a sexual being..) But hey, she has no right to feel humiliated as she’s a domintrix apparently and deserves all she gets…according to some of these rags.
The dichotomy of the virgin/whore is still alive and well. Skidmarx wake up and smell the sexism. Oh, and how do you know it was “supposed outrage” by Georgina?

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12. WorldbyStorm - November 2, 2008

As one mind with you harpymarx…

I remember the death of Di and this sir is no death of Di…

Look, hysteria works both ways. For all the nonsense and retrospective judgementalism in many of the complaints (although in fairness how many times do we judge speeches etc which we haven’t head at the time?) this was an abuse of power. It bullied those in a lesser position of power. That’s not funny and it isn’t progressive either.

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13. angryfeminist - November 2, 2008

what has annoyed me most about this whole story is the assumption that andrew sachs is the main injured party, rather than georgina baillie. it smacks of reaction to rapes years ago when it was viewed as a crime against male property, with the victim’s husband or father receiving compensation for the damage to their ‘property’. in the same way the chief insult here is assumed to be to georgina’s grandfather – presumably for the humiliation of being associated with an unvirtuous woman, rather than it being viewed as a nasty degrading attack on a woman by someone she slept with. russell brand’s behaviour is as pathetic and immature as a schoolboy boasting about having slept with the local ‘slut’. can anyone imagine this happening with the gender roles reversed? i’ve been further angered by women actually blaming georgina for what’s happened – what did she expect, she was asking for it with her behavuour etc. and look hasn’t she made money out of it now, which is utterly irrelevant. nobody asks to be humiliated in public and in front an elderly family member.

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14. WorldbyStorm - November 2, 2008

I’d agree, and I think the subtext of her ‘asking for it’ is vile in the extreme. That said Sachs isn’t, and I’m sure you’re not suggesting this, and uninjured party.

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15. Niall - November 2, 2008

Well, I’d feel a whole lot more sympathy for Baille if she hadn’t went to the Sun and given a warts and all account of her time with Brand. It’d be a lot easier to feel angry with Brand for kissing and telling if the subject of his tale wasn’t kissing and telling herself.

There’s something a little bit silly about the situation. Braille is a glamour model, a member of the Satanic Sluts group. If Brand had, for instance, mentioned the fact that he’d slept with Jordan, nobody would have batted an eyelid because usually, in the eyes of the public, it’s ok to talk about who you slept with if they’re some sort of celebrity. But people were outraged because he left these details on Braille’s grandfather’s phone. Surely people realise that parents, siblings and grandparent’s watch television? And they read papers What makes this any different from any of the other 1001 kiss and tell stories you get in the pages of the red tops?

Surely Georgina realises that her grandfather can see the half naked pictures of her beside the interviews where she discusses her sex life? If her primary concern is Grandad’s feelings, Max Clifford probably isn’t going to help.

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16. WorldbyStorm - November 2, 2008

Yet whatever she has done by going to the Sun, as neat a means of leveraging the situation to her advantage (and in many ways who could blame her), is still the product of the actions of Brand and Ross. It is trivial on one level, but disturbing on another because the gloss of the celebrity status of those involved conceals to a limited degree something very unpleasant about the personal relationships (as much in many respects as the power relationships).

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17. angryfeminist - November 3, 2008

there’s nothing wrong with georgina baillie giving her side of the story through a ‘kiss and tell’ interview with the sun and making some money out of it- now that it’s all out in the open anyway. the whole point here is one of choice and power – she chose to give the interview and her granddad can choose not to read it, but he could not avoid having the information forced on him through the voicemail. saying the two are morally equivalent is patently ridiculous – a paid for voluntary interview is entirely different from russell brand maliciously revealing the information to her grandfather on the radio for a cheap laugh because his position of power enabled him to do so! i do accept that sachs is also an injured party, i just think it’s worse for her as she has been hurt by someone she knew personally and must have liked to some extent at one point, rather than by a total stranger. i thought dara o’ briain’s quip about now being in day 6 of ‘man has his feelings hurt’gate was funny but illustrates again how sachs is portrayed as the injured party and not her!

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18. Niall - November 3, 2008

Come now! Do we honestly believe that if Georgina is splashed half-naked on the front of a tabloid with a caption quote of her talking about her sex-life that her family won’t hear about it or that they can avoid it? It’s kind of obvious that not exposing her grandfather to the details of her sex life isn’t top of her priorities. Go online and you’ll find a line at the end of her Sun interview asking readers if they know Georgina or if they have a story about her. What sort of stories about Georgina does Max Clifford think will turn up in the Sun?

Not to condone Brand’s actions, but he is known to have slept with many more famous celebrities during his time, but he doesn’t tend to give out the details. And he has found himself in ‘honeytrap’ situations with tabloid journalists who used him to get stories. In such a situation, was he any less a victim than Georgina? Objectively speaking, no. Indeed, objectively speaking, he has been the greater victim in that he is known as somebody who has bipolar disorder and an addiction to sex. When tabloid journalists take advantage of his situation, is that not worse still? Where was the outrage when Brand was the victim? Did the journalist lose her job?

I’m not claiming that Georgina hasn’t been wronged, I’m just fascinated by the fact that people claim that it’s wrong that Brand and Ross mentioned the fact that Brand slept with the girl to her grandfather, but at the same time, they’re unmoved by the thousands of stories that turn up in the tabloids where parents and grandparents of celebrities are indirectly informed of their children’s sexual exploits. In those situations, only one party tends to be paid as well while the other has no say in the matter.

The thing that seems to have upset the masses, if you were to believe the vox pops, is the fact that Brand and Ross mentioned Braille’s past sexual encounters to Sachs. It’s as though people can’t seem to understand that thousands of sets of grandparents have have gone through similar experiences in the past. The one thing that makes this situation unique is probably the fact that Brand and Ross used the information to ‘bully’ Sachs, so perhaps that helps to explain why so much attention is given to him.

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19. Claire - November 3, 2008

Niall, the difference is that she is in control of her burlesque career and has chosen (though how freely? – a separate question) to do the Sun interview. She had no control over her public outing and humilation by two wankers drunk on their own superiority. As angryfeminist said it’s choice and power.

That’s not to say that the reporting of the issue has been sterling, or that the Mail/Sun are anything but rags. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and all that. Nor does it excuse the outings of Brand you’ve mentioned.

It’s just highlighted how truly disturbing attitudes to sex, sex workers, and sexual power dynamics still are.

I have to caution you against automatically choosing the opposite side to ‘the masses’ however. Or the Mail and the Sun. Like skidmarx, who was quick to leap to the old cliche of how a collective burst of emotion is ‘just like Princess Di’ (cue eyerolling about the stupidity of the common folk), just because a point of view is popular doesn’t make it wrong. Questioning near-universal truths is good. Assuming that because lots of people think something, and people are generally morons, hence the sensible opinion is the minority one, is very very silly.

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20. Claire - November 3, 2008

Oooh, if anyone wants a laugh, try Kevin Myers adopting a very feminist take on the whole situation here:

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/slap-down-ross-and-brand-with-permanent-airtime-ban-1514576.html

Of course, it’s Myers so there’s lots of nonsense, and he has to rubbish feminism not once but twice in the piece, so nobody thinks he’s losing his touch, but his overall assessment of the power dynamics is very feminist.

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21. WorldbyStorm - November 3, 2008

Even Myers can be right once or twice in a career (pah! I can’t believe I said that… although the man can write).

Claire, again I’d broadly echo what you say. The chronology is crucial here, who did what when. As is the fact that there is a clear distinction between leaving threatening and abusive messages on a phone answering yoke (as well as revealing information about a family members sexual life which might or might not have been public) and having a career in burlesque etc. It’s complex admittedly but that doesn’t take any of the responsibility away from Brand and Ross.

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22. Claire - November 3, 2008

WbS, yes, I completely agree.

Myers’ mental contortions must be epic. It is actually pretty psychologically intriguing – I have to admit that before reading that column, I assumed he’d have no time for theories of social power dynamics (if he knew of them at all). I honestly have to wonder how he can reconcile his attack of the alpha males and his antipathy to feminism. In the piece he doesn’t seem to really understand that feminism shares his sentiments in this regard (suggesting that feminists don’t like Ross or Clarkson because they’re ‘blokes’) but I don’t think he actually believes that’s what feminists object to. But maybe he does…

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23. angryfeminist - November 3, 2008

i’ve always thought the alpha male thing is silly. i’m surprised more men don’t object to being reduced to chest-beating apes in common parlance. there seems to be a certain macho pride in being seen as all primitive instincts devoid of ‘metrosexuality’ – like an article i read the other day about men being attracted to women who wore red because of being descended from red-arsed apes. this whole evolutionary psychology angle seems like bunkum to me – they’re just power-drunk wankers- neither of whom would be alpha in a real chimp fight given their weedy and portly physiques. also brand does have a history of boasting about who he has had sex with – he did it at an award show about someone some time back. honeytrapping is clearly unethical but i’m also dubious about sex addiction, which is usually just a lame excuse for infidelity or using prostitutes e.g. michael douglas, david duchovny – funny how it always seems to be men rather than women, though i suppose that’s cos their evolutionary psychology makes them uncontrollably horny all the time & they’re not responsible for their own actions…so it’s up to women not to wear short skirts etc…

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24. Omar Little - November 3, 2008

At the awards show Brand claimed to have had sex with Bob Geldof’s daughter; Geldof then took the mike and said ‘Russell Brand, what a cunt, eh?’ brand then claimed to be ‘hurt.’

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25. skidmarx - November 3, 2008

I know it was supposed outrage because it was reported (I didn’t actually read the Sun) that her complaint had been about the attack on her father. Given his entirely forgiving reaction, I think it is reasonable to conclude the was only adopting an angle on the advice of that great feminist Max Clifford so as to get paid off by the Sun.

The reason Andrew Sachs is seen as the main target is that he was the one who actually received an “obscene” phone message, though this affair is an attempt to drag the defintion of “obscenity” back to the 1950s and any feminists associating themselves with it are in some pretty inglorious company.

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26. skidmarx - November 3, 2008

“Why are you so fat? Because every time I fuck your mother she gives me a biscuit.” I’m not certain where that comes from (English cricketers’ “sledging”), seems more objectively offensive, I don’t see the same sense of outrage.

A Turkish footballer said “Fuck your mother” to David Beckham I think after he’d missed a penalty in 2002 and there was some fuss in the UK about it. My thoughts were that it probably indicated that the speaker was unfamilar with English usage of pronouns and probably wished to mean “I fuck your mother” rather than You fuck your mother” so as to be as offensive as possible.

According to Jon Stewart you’re well on your way to being a real American if your favourite Amendment to the US constitution is not the first about freedom of speech, but the second in which the right to bear pitchforks shall not be abridged. I can’t see the difference between a supposedly feminist take on this and that of the Daily Mail in terms of demands made are side taken, the only power dynamic I can really see is whether the Mail gets the power to decide what’s on the airwaves.

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27. ejh - November 3, 2008

I’m not certain where that comes from

It’s generally attributed to erstwhile Zimbabwean tailender Eddo Brandes.

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28. ejh - November 3, 2008

any feminists associating themselves with it are in some pretty inglorious company

Yeah, but we’re all in some pretty inglorious company at one time or another. Politics does make strange bedfellows and very different agendas nevertheless have areas of overlap.

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29. Stalin Whitewashed? Not the first word that springs to mind « Garibaldy Blog - November 10, 2008

[...] somewhat questionable, especially on the basis of one poster of him on a campus. However the recent video released by Russell Brand may suggest he has more of a point. It is actually nearly impossible to [...]

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30. This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - July 8, 2010

[...] be a couple of years old, but I’ve never seen it before. And given that we know Russell Brand has a picture of Stalin in his house (video now sadly removed from Youtube), and was at a basketball game with “Workers of the [...]

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