The GQ+A: Russell Brand Talks Fairy Tales and Edward Snowden
BY Jen Ortiz
GQ: Why fairy tales?
Russell Brand: I think they’re the best kind of story. There’s deep information in them, and I really just get on with the kids, and I wanted to write a story that gets into the kind of territories that are kind of under-addressed, culturally, at the moment. Sort of spirituality and transcendence.
So why’d you start with the story of the Pied Piper?
I think there’s a bit of that strange ambiguity—the Piper’s a weird character, isn’t he? Why I like it is because it’s not clear what we’re supposed to learn from that story. We live in a time where everything is very materialistic, measured, individualized, so a story like that is inherently mystical because there’s no reason why, in a way, that the Pied Piper would take all the village’s children. Because they knocked him on his pest control bill, really? It’s a massive overreaction, but yet somehow it makes sense to us, but I that’s because we know that it’s about transcendence—and important things that are not easy to express.
Favorite story as a kid?
I liked a lot of Roald Dahl. A lot of Oscar Wilde’s stories, like The Selfish Giant and The Nightingale and the Rose. A lot of fairy stories because I thought there was something weird about that. I remember thinking, This doesn’t make sense. This is odd. What it’s trying to tell me? I found them powerful.
Was there a character that you identified with?
Um, no—but I was obsessed with Pinocchio, actually. He was a weird little guy, Pinocchio, telling them lies, wanted to be real boy. Perfect.
What makes your spin on these classic fairy tales different?
It’s to make them relevant, to make them fun, and accessible. Chris Riddell’s drawings really do that. And, for me, to remember children are capable of vacillating between serenity and nastiness, towards spiritual and sublime ideas, so that’s what I tried to do, is to make it fun and also to make it obvious that I was commenting, that it’s allegorical. It’s a comment on the way that we’re living now, in some ways Hamelin is just like the contemporary capitalist consumer culture and the Piper is the transcendent message that’s being lost, and it’s children that we seem to treasure most, that we lose if we don’t hear the message, if we don’t hear the music.
BBC Newsnight 23rd October with Evan Davis
Interview in The Guardian, Simon Hattenstone, Saturday 11 October 2014
Last year, Russell Brand caused another to-do. This time he wasn’t playing nasty jokes on Andrew Sachs, or boasting about the millions of people he’d slept with; he wasn’t calling George Bush a “retard”, or giving a Nazi salute at the GQ awards, or turning up to work dressed as Osama bin Laden (as he did the day after 9/11), or stripping naked to cover the May Day protest for MTV. No, this time he simply made a political statement.
Brand was asked to guest-edit the New Statesman, and chose revolution as his theme. He agreed “because it was a beautiful woman asking me”, associate editor Jemima Khan – not the most revolutionary reasoning. He then admitted he had never voted and encouraged others not to, in order to nobble the establishment. A few weeks later, he was grilled on Newsnight by Jeremy Paxman: who was he to advocate revolution, a here-today, gone-tomorrow comedian, an apathetic whinger who couldn’t even be arsed to exercise his democratic right, a “very trivial man” who believed in nothing?
One year on, Brand has got his answer. Now, his revolution isn’t just a throwaway comment. It’s a new book, a slogan on his necklace and, he believes, a real possibility. The book is a classic Brand potpourri: brilliant and infuriating, part travelogue, memoir, rant, riff, a call to arms and, ultimately, to love. It is not as readable or funny as his two Booky Wooks; more stream-of-consciousness tract. In short, he argues that the planet is being destroyed, the poor are being shafted, the rich are getting richer and he has had enough.
Continue reading on The Guardian website
Earlier today Russell testified to the Home Affairs Select Committee who are currently conducting a review of UK government drugs strategy.
He shared his belief in the merits of abstinence-based recovery programmes and the compassionate treatment of addiction as an illness rather than a crime.
You can watch the entire session courtesy of Parliament TV
Learn more about the brilliant work of Focus 12 here
Yesterday, Russell promoted his new late-night TV show, Strangely Uplifting.
The Hollywood Reporter chronicled what transpired at the gathering of the Television Critics Association
“TCA: British Comedian Russell Brand Calls U.S. Presidential Election ‘A Meaningless Spectacle’
“I don’t see myself as a malevolent jester attacking people who are already disenfranchised,” said Brand. “All I want is to make people feel better than they do now.”
2:28 PM PST 1/15/2012 by Marisa Guthrie
Russell Brand closed winter TCA with a side-splitting, blasphemous and deliciously crude question-and-answer session to promote his new late-night program, Strangely Uplifting. Set to bow in April on FX, details on the format are still a little vague – it will be part standup, part topical humor with an element of audience participation. FX has ordered an initial six installments of the program. But if Brand’s TCA session is any indication, it has the potential to be a barnburner.
Following are highlights from Brand’s session:
U.S. politics provided copious fodder for the British brand. Asked if his show would examine the 2012 president election, Brand allowed that the current crop of GOP contenders are “an interesting bunch. I don’t know much about them. But that could be a good thing.”
On Mitt Romney’s vast wealth: “Other billionaires must seem like Dickensian street urchins eating gruel with fingerless gloves.”
On the presidential race in general: “We know it’s meaningless who the president is. Don’t we? So I’m not going to be part of the meaningless spectacle. It’s like describing individual termites. The only legitimate distinction in global politics, I think, is: are you rich or poor?”
On former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s name: “[His] surname rhymes with sanitarium.”
On former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s name: “ludicrous, amphibious, bizarre.”
On U.S. Marines videotaped urinating on Afghan corpses: “It’s bad to wee on a dead body, but it’s worse to kill someone! A lot of people consider the old golden shower elitist.”
On Gingrich’s TV spot skewering Romney for speaking French: “Like that makes him elitist and a bit of a whoopsy. It’s so extraordinary that someone would be criticized for [speaking another language].”
On whether his show will traffic in the gossip of the moment, even if it involves him: “At the risk of plunging myself into a post-modern, self-referential vortex, I could analyze myself. If I’d done something actually newsworthy, then I’d cover it.”
On his goals as a comedian: “I don’t see myself or my role as a malevolent jester attacking people who are already disenfranchised. All I want is to make people feel better than they do now. All I want is to make people laugh. My goal is to acknowledge that within each of us is a divine and beautiful light.”
On the culture at large: “I consider contemporary culture to be a pink pony trotting through the world shitting glitter. They’re filling our minds with shit glitter!”