Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Inspired by... / 04

russell brand messiah complex colston hall bristol 2013

No, not Russell Brand. But the woman in the audience who challenged him.

A couple of weeks ago we went to see Russell Brand at the Colston Hall. Not something we'd have bought tickets for, but seeing as Seatwave sent us a pair we were looking forward to it, particularly after Brand's recent run in with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. Brand's re-brand as political revolutionary is interesting, both for its audacity and as a challenge to the political establishment; whipping up the disenfranchised youth is all too rare these days. And I've always loved reading his work in the Guardian et al; his brain is his most attractive asset, in my opinion.

Part of Brand's schtick is to hop off the stage and roam about the audience, having a chat with willing participants. I'm desperately shy when it comes to things like that but some brave soul, after twenty minute or so of the show, heckled Brand, calling him out for being sexist.

His response was to question her, saying it was a common belief about him and that he wanted to know why. One of his defences was to say he is from a working class background and that he might well be sexist without quite realising it. Not sure I buy that one... I guess the heckler got the heebie jeebies at this point and her response wasn't quite enough for Brand who obviously got bored and moved on, bouncing off to find some other audience member by whom to be distracted.

Quite out of character, I wished he would come over to me in order that I could pick up where they'd left off. My view of his act is that he's deeply focused on the way women look. I know it's an act - one I've seen in newspapers or on TV - but I naively thought things would be different live. Instead, he appeared lascivious and predatory. In contrast to Brand's current agenda - that of spiritual awareness, coming from a place of love and peace - he appears to focus solely on women's appearances, and to ascribe major value to this one-dimensional aspect.

During the act, Russell Brand refers to his repeated wins for the Sun newspaper's award for 'Shagger of the Year'; I couldn't help thinking: wouldn't it be something if he joined the No More Page 3 campaign to rid the paper of its daily topless photographs? And, while he's at it, the Everyday Sexism project, if he's genuinely interested in why he's accused of sexism, misogyny or womanising?

I've been meaning to write about No More Page 3 and Everyday Sexism for ages. Both campaigns are just brilliant; they make plain and simple some of the complex concepts at the core of feminism that, in itself, can be so off-putting. Look them up and add your name; these campaigns are reliant on one  voice, of women speaking together to challenge the status quo and to make the accepted, unacceptable: those daily examples of why life is still so different for women than men in this country in 2013.
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