If you would’ve told me a decade or so ago that the unabashedly provocative and vulgar hedonist, Russell Brand, would end up being one of the most intellectual and reasonable people in Hollywood, I would’ve laughed in your face. I certainly would’ve laughed harder than I did watching any of his movies or seeing any of his stand-up sets. Over-the-top degeneracy has never appealed to me. But here we are, a decade or so later, and I’m being forced to reevaluate my opinion of him.
Not his humor, certainly. I still don’t find him funny. But it’s that same provocativeness and vulgarity, paired with a surprising amount of intellect, that’s made him such an effective political commentator. He’s not a man who tolerates bulls**t and is very good at breaking down the hypocrisy and lies he sees around him. Particularly in media and politics, which are effectively one and the same, these days. Media bias is of particular interest to him, especially now.
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Someone being labelled a “conspiracy theorist” doesn’t mean much to me. It gets thrown around so often that it barely even registers in my mind. Unfortunately, it’s much the same with sexual assault allegations. I’m one of those people who assumes at least half the powerful people in media and politics are sex pests anyway. But combine the two, and it’s a different story. When I see someone accused of being a conspiracy theorist and a sex pest, then I take notice.
You see, I’m also one of the people who believes the harder the media tries to crack down on someone, the more you should pay attention to what they’re saying. It’s funny, perhaps even suspicious, how celebrities who speak out against the media tend to get labelled as “crackpots” and suddenly stop appearing in anything bigger than a made-for-TV Hallmark movie. Even funnier, and more suspicious, is how many of them also tend to have people from their past come from out of the blue to simultaneously accuse them of sexual assault.
Russell Brand, as I’m sure you’ve heard, is one such person. The “conspiracy theorist” label has done little to actually harm him because he doesn’t rely on old media like film or television as much as most celebrities. Instead, he maintains an extremely strong following on the Internet (his YouTube channel has 6.71 million subscribers at the time of writing) where he can operate largely independently and is harder to blacklist.
The “sex pest” label, on the other hand, is a bit trickier for him to deal with.
According to The Christian Post:
. . .a joint investigation by The Times of London and Channel 4 revealed that four women alleged the comedian had sexually assaulted them at the height of his career between 2006 and 2013. At the time, Brand was a BBC and Channel 4 presenter.
One report from The Sunday Times alleged Brand assaulted a then-16-year-old girl — who was over the age of consent in the U.K. — during a brief and allegedly “emotionally and sexually abusive” relationship, while another woman told The Times that Brand had raped her at his Los Angeles home in 2012 but she did not file a report with the police.
These allegations have resulted in his management company dumping him, his publishing company dumping him, the BBC removing some of his content from circulation, YouTube demonetizing his account, a women’s and children’s charity cutting ties with him, and a lawsuit. Keep in mind, this is all based entirely on allegations that, despite a second police investigation into him, have yet to be proven. He even voluntarily submitted himself to police questioning.
But if there’s a small glimmer of goodness in all of this, it’s that the experience seems to be bringing the lifelong hedonist closer to Christ. He’s been expressing his interest in Christianity for some time now after he finally got sober. He recently uploaded an image on Facebook of the Bible and The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis, a book which The Christian Post says:
. . .addresses the question of why a good God allows people to suffer and explores how human suffering fits within the broader context of Christian belief.
I genuinely hope things turn out well for Russell Brand. We need more people with voices like his calling out the media. Regardless of how things turn out, however, I hope he continues on his journey to find Christ. I still don’t think he’s funny, though.