Pundit Math: Russell Brand is Smarter than Three Cable News Anchors Combined
But that’s probably not a huge surprise, right?
Still, I’m posting this video because it is my new favorite thing on the Internet ever. [A big, thankful hat tip to the always fabulous Alyssa Rosenberg.] Trust me when I say that you really, really need to watch this video.
On tour to promote his new one man show, Messiah Complex, Russell Brand sat down this week with the folks on Morning Joe. (If you’re not familiar with it, Morning Joe is a MSNBC Fox-&-Friends–Wanna-Be vehicle.) From his description, Brand’s show sounds fascinating:
I’m talking about Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Gandhi and Jesus Christ, and how these figures are significant culturally, and how icons are appropriated and used to designate consciousness and meaning – particularly posthumously… They’re all people who died for a cause, they’re all people whose icons are used to designate meaning, but perhaps not in the manner they intended.
Were this NPR’s Talk of the Nation or Fresh Air (to name two shows currently fashionable to s**t on by both the Right and the Left) a truly meaningful discussion or interview might have followed. Instead, partisan cable news did what partisan cable news does best: trip over itself to make the most insipid observations possible. Normally on cable news networks, everyone on camera knows their roles and does their part in dumbing down the conversation. The hosts do this to make the show easy to swallow for the most common denominator, and the guests do it because that’s what they need to do to be asked back so that they can jockey to be awarded the plumb “special contributor” paycheck. This interview, though, is something else entirely. In what was surely booked to be a mere five-minute throwaway puff piece, Russell Brand effectively dismantles the myth of “cable-news journalism” by not playing along and going completely off script.
Brand is clearly the smartest person in a room of people who have become a parody of themselves. At one point when he is trying to explain why he can’t just do thirty seconds of Gandhi jokes and get his show’s point across, he is interrupted by the hosts’ observing that it’s so hard to understand English accents on the radio, but in person you can understand Russell perfectly!
Brans then turns to the bank of people working at multi-colored, futuristic looking computers (part of the “set”) behind the hosts.
“Who are these people? At work, are they?” he asks incredulously.
“They’re Facebooking,” explain the hosts. Instantly realizing how inane this sounds, they add, “and tweeting.”
The rest of the interview is filled with similar naked-emperor-exposing. The questions asked by the hosts are along the lines of, “Can we see your boots? They’re very interesting!”, or, “You’re a comedian, but you also have a serious side, don’t you?”
At one point one of the hosts asks him which he prefers – standup comedy, movies or television, and Brand manages to answer in a way that is clearly meant to be a sharp, cutting and on-target insult to not only everyone in the room, but anyone that works in cable news period:
The thing I enjoy most is standup comedy, because you’re direct with your audience. You can’t be misinterpreted… You know what happens if you work in media? People like to change the information till it suits a particular agenda. If you’re in a room with people then what you say is clear… If you say something as a joke people can’t pretend you’re saying it seriously. So I like to have direct communication with people, because I believe people are very, very intelligent, but the information gets manipulated a lot, to cause –you know – fake stirs and stuff.
It’s hard for me to choose which part of this I love more – the expressions of the faces of the Morning Joe hosts as they begin to understand he’s talking about them, or the hilarious “control-the-message” attempt to change the subject back to Brand’s funny English accent immediately after.
I’ll let Alyssa describe the climactic end:
And finally, Brand had enough. “Is this what you all do for a living? Let me help you. I’m here to promote a tour called Messiah Complex,” he told them exasperated, before shuffling up a stack of paper and posing a series of entirely reasonable questions about the roles of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden in our national security environment before continuing his lecture. “You forget about what’s important and allow the agenda to be decided by superficial information.” Turning to Brzezinski, Brand asked, “What do you think that gesture means, the way you’re touching that bottle. You need to lose that ring because it don’t mean nothing to you.”
So treat yourself and watch the whole nine minutes. Like I said, it’s my new favorite thing on the Internet ever:
 Seriously, how sad is that?