I opened my FB news feed this morning to be greeted by a status update from the Elephant Journal Admin declaring that they “recently became a Russell Brand fan” and was bemused by my private internal four-year-old response: Well you’re a bit slow aren’t you – my inner child chided – I’ve been following Russell for like MONTHS now! 🙂
My ability to be constantly amused by – not only my internal dialogue – but by the variety of characters that my mind assumes at various moments of any day aside, this “fan-ship” phenomena is very new to me. Firstly – I’m thirty-something . . . something 😀 and I’ve NEVER been one of those poster-sporting, day-dream following young lasses recognising as I did from very young that George Michael (whether he knew it or not) was far more suited to my gay cousin’s teenage fantasies than mine. I’ve always just been more of the serious sort too, completely unimpressed with comedy of any sort out of the US (while an ardent Black Adder and Monty Python devotee) so a “comedian” was certainly not what I was expecting as my first dalliance as a “fan”.
I slipped into this gradually however as I’d seen Russell only once in the film Arthur and while pleasantly surprised that the remake didn’t cower in the shadow of the original it wasn’t until I saw the Good Morning Australia clip where Russell declares without flinching that : “ You cannot define yourself in reference to other external co-ordinates. You must define yourself internally with your relationship with a higher entity. Think of yourself as a manifestation of some higher thing, some higher frequency. This is the visible realisation and you know that don’t you because you cant see atoms and you cant see the forces that hold those atoms together. There, in the Micro-Quantum world Richard, lie the answers to everything. We can’t understand it with our biological rational minds, but we feel it intuitively. Get yourself in alignment with that stuff and you’ll beam like the sun! Yeah man!”, and with that I really got my first “hit” of the potency of the Russel Brand phenomena. I shared the clip and discussed it openly but beyond that I was now simply “impressed”.
“Good on you Russell Brand” I thought, “how nice to have an eloquent celebrity capable of higher erudite expression on subjects of higher resonance. Nice!”
It was the second taste of this tangy toastmaster of uncompromising truth that really sunk hooks into my psyche – a clip I think on addiction and abstinence-based recovery and quite literally all resistance from there was futile! It happened on a Friday afternoon and I must have spent the better part of that night into the next morning looking up just about everything I could find on this tantalising individual. The salad of an expansive vocabulary, the succinct expression of world-embracing and soul-stirring concepts from a yoga-and-TM-meditation-practicing ex-junkie drenched in unflagging passion for the subjects of the Oneness of Mankind, our reality as spiritual beings and the irrelevance of the nonsensical miasma of most of popular droning global debate had me hooked and despite an initial baffled resistance to my fascination with the man (I’m a serious-thinking grown-up you understand!) I found that even the God-child in me was irresistibly drawn to the openly vulnerable and nakedly truthful outpourings of what I have truly come to think of as a phenomena of our Age.
Now if you’re a regular reader of my page and prose you’ll know that I’m a God-person, openly so and without apology. Within that I am sensitive to the resistance to “formalised religion” and how many people’s experience of God-people is quite jagged and torn but I’m a Baha’i and have spent my life immersed in the certainty of the coming of World Peace and the dawning of a new age of the Oneness of Mankind within the certainty that all religions have a divine origin and in terms of truth we’re all headed to the same “place”. 30 years ago these concepts were fairly revolutionary and if we (the followers of the Baha’i Faith) weren’t being called delusional-hippie-idealists we were often being targeted by conspiracy theorists thinking that we were REALLY somehow trying to take over the world. So fear or avoidance really and so the last decade has really been quite a thrill with walls coming down and the internet breaking through fears of all kinds. But now HERE we have this popular celebrity comedian type, openly touting love, unity and kindness and I suspect almost divinely shaped as an arrow pointed straight at my Generation X as we head into the period of being the cup-bearers of the globe!
For anyone who hasn’t studied generational analysis, the studies are done primarily by advertisers as they try to assess how best to market to an affluent generation. The studies themselves have inspired a significant shift in advertising tactics over the last decade as advertisers became aware that this was the “show me” generation. We’re naturally jaded and believe little of what we hear and focus more on what we see. Most of us couldn’t give a toss about language usage and studies have shown we’re also more likely to trust people who swear sometimes above people who don’t. So the fact that to get through even one Russell Brand clip on YouTube you absolutely HAVE to be immune to the prolific use of swear words seems to make his Brand of dialogue perfectly suited to Generation X. We’re also pretty much immune to sexual innuendo and ribaldry. We’ve been overexposed in movies, television and society far too long to even bother being offended at explicit language so with both of these elements off the table, Russell’s voracious openness about his appetites, littered with colourful language is really nothing more than amusing décor in the halls of truth that he entices us all into with laughter and an almost awkward ambling gait that radiates respect for even the most objectively bizarre beliefs and lovingly embraces even the most offensive individuals in a warm Russell-Branded glow.
In an age where anger, violence and meanness is so abundant, Russell’s composure in the face of tomato-faced blustering politicians hurling abuse at him or when subjected to blatantly obvious disdain is beyond masterful as he calmly sits in TRUTH and never for a moment flinches in his convictions! Who DOES that?!
In a world of isolated points of light beaming like pinpricks into the seeming stuck-ness of a world on the brink of but still resisting massive change, Russell seems to gather all of the scattered “truths” of our generation into one focused beam. Amidst the chants against the evils of rampant capitalism and mass manipulation – usually in a focused form AGAINST this or that (GMO’s, the Media, politicians on all sides etc.), Russell’s message beams clearly out of the centre of it all: Its all SHITE and we need to take another look and complete our evolution into a world of love, unity and mutual respect. So there! (except of course his delivery of this synopsis is exceptional and full-bodied!)
While most of our social warriors have taken a stand on this or that issue and passionately lead the charge of destruction against paradigms that have outgrown their benefits, Russell has found an uninhabited corner in addressing Humanity holistically and I’m almost as amused by people’s complete loss of composure when faced with him as I am by the man himself. What can anyone really do when offered absolute unflinching truth in impressively erudite language by a lovingly non-threatening individual standing naked in all his flaws with nothing to hide? In a world of false constructs and rippled carpets of buried truths Russell’s approach ultimately unhinges all but the most genuinely firmly founded interviewers and glaringly enfeebles his staunchest critics who by comparison seem like lamely bleating sheep amidst the reverberation of the concise and impervious gems he sprinkles about like diamonds before a gaggle of socialites who have conned the world into believing in the inestimable value of their diamanté encrusted persona’s.
The unexpected juxtaposition of a celebrity – who by nature tend to be crowd-pleaser’s by career necessity – expounding truths certain to be unpopular somewhere – with such alacrity and confidence simply takes most folk by complete surprise and they bubble and bluster, regaining their composure only long after Russell has delivered his choice offerings and left the building!
All of this? From a self-confessed ex-junkie? Well, yes. If Russell does have one dominant altruistic focus beyond the big picture it would be drug rehabilitation and recovery but that so authentically grows from him; earthed in his own experience – that its more an act of sharing his success in conquering (and surviving) a life-threatening propensity than it is a “mission”. He wears his ex-junkie status proudly and fearlessly which is possibly his greatest strength, the true impact of which hit me yesterday mid-read of an epistle of his in the New Statesman calling for a global economic revolution while I was contemplating the stark bravery of a man who seemingly risks career suicide with each public appearance. How does this singular human being overcome ALL people-pleasing tendencies to stand so very publicly and unashamedly in truth?
Anyone familiar with recovery from addiction will tell you that the strongest weapon against our desire to escape from an unappealing reality (made unappealing in large part by the complete lack of honesty and openness in society) is simply TRUTH. Hard-core absolute truth through which the addict to any distraction or substance can clear the decks of guilt and expectation of fakery and perhaps for the first time in their lives live truly free. It could even be said that until an addict reaches a space of completely raw, naked truth – both in themselves and in the world, they stand a slim chance of maintaining or perpetuating a state of recovery. I’ve also discovered that truth itself can therefore be a replacement high that outshines all others and brings with it the added benefit of aligning oneself with all that is good and right in the world. I’ve even been heard to declare that the only really HUMAN-beings in this world ARE in fact addicts because who can possibly be fully conscious in today’s world and NOT be torn to shreds by the despicable realities of child poverty, human depravity and simple social meanness? To be awake and unaffected in this day and age to me one would have to be a psychopath.
So by projecting myself into Russell’s fancy boots (which with an addictive personality myself I feel I qualify to at least attempt), I can see how his very survival of his own dependency challenge would have required anchoring himself in truth and therefore any urging towards crowd-pleasing that would take him out of his uncompromising truth would not merely be an unfortunate slip, but a challenge to his very survival. If addicts are indeed the true seekers, always looking for that “something more” and finding only unsatisfying substitutes in form, then perhaps Russell is one of the first seeker-pioneers to have so publicly and successfully completed that journey to its true beckoning of spiritual satisfaction and just that example in itself is iconic.
What a gift to the world! An amusing iconic celebrity who for his own survival is immersed in meditation, yoga and absolute truth and he can’t help but speak it loudly and as boldly as possible flavoured with his unique spices of amusing self-evaluation and ribaldry. So if you’re not of my generation and not immune to his sexual references and swearing – soldier on! I promise that the gems he offers speckled with all the rough-stuff will be well worth enduring a few flinches. For the God-folk amongst us consider what God did with Moses, a murderer! If He chose such a man to lead his children at that time, why could a man who has surrendered to truth and love in his own life not be put to work (or in another perspective become a part of the work to be done by aligning with love) by God (or the Universal powers, whatever your words are) to take part in the awakening of mankind?
Not that I’m saying that Russell is the Messiah you understand but something in his latest tour (aptly named the Messiah complex) gives me a clue that at some level he does have an inkling of the importance of his place in the world . . which in itself must be a delicate balance because really its his commitment to truth and love that are so exceptional, two ingredients that would be wholly discounted were he to allow self-importance to master his efforts – a struggle that he’s referred to publicly in more than one interview, but so far it seems he’s miraculously staying ahead of that battle.
Perhaps most remarkable in all the clips I’ve ever seen of Russell Brand is that not once have I ever seen any sign of intentional meanness in him. How remarkable is that?!
While he deftly weaves the ego-impulses of those around him into glittering webs of glamour while subtly exposing, almost spuriously, the utter nonsense captivating much of the modern world, still: in a world at war with its true self through the hilarity of unkindness, he’s a popular comedian and somehow, he’s never mean, and for that alone the man deserves our admiration.
I feel much like a botanist would watching the first flowering of a previously unknown genus of blossoming plant life. I am captivated by the spectacle of an uncompromisingly truthful, kind man on a spot-lit global stage with a bewildered audience in a world at the brink of mammoth change; as he harnesses his vulnerabilities as strengths and surrenders to the purpose of a catalyst for that change. Amidst his flawed humanity there is something quite exceptional happening here and if we allow ourselves to be distracted by weight of those still in denial clawing at his boot-legs we may all miss it.
This man presents us with an unprecedented phenomenology, like a world-shaking laughter-gurgling earth-quake unearthing gifts of inestimable value into our midst to relish in or expend the last of our resistant impulses fighting against if that’s what will get us to finally surrender to the truth of the readiness of the world for fundamental change. My singular hope is that he is not like the shining lights of the past that burn themselves up – phoenix-like – in reaching their true elevation and that he will set a new precedent as an enduring spokes person for truth that will still be shaking things up for years to come!
So if you’ve never immersed yourself in the unusually piquant sauciness of Russell Brand, take the challenge and adventure into this experience. Whether he annoys you, pushes your buttons, makes you laugh or opens your soul, I promise you will not be bored! Whatever your take on the man, if you’re truly honest you wont be able to be struck by the appearance of something completely new in a world stuck in remakes and change-resistant back-pedalling.
We now have a sign of our times impossible to ignore and its all Brand New.
A taste of the magic:
© Natalie-Ann Powell 2013