Russell Brand: A Real ‘Waldo’

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A 4chan user with an open thesaurus at his desk could come up with the argument Russell Brand made on 23rd of October’s Newsnight when he was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman. Oh, the environment! Oh, economic ‘disparity’! Oh, ‘ignoring the needs of the many’!

Wow, Russell. Please tell me more about your ideas on policies? What’s that? You don’t have any? Then don’t waste the world’s time pretending to be Oliver Cromwell. Yet, people are falling for this act. There are many acting like it’s 1789 France and that the people are going to pick up their pitchforks and storm the Bastille. Facebook pages such as ‘Russell Brand for Prime Minister‘  really show the level of enthusiasm for the man. Yet this seems to go against even the adolescent level of observations Brand discusses.

We can all see where Mr Brand is coming from. Everyone has had moments in their lives where they disagree with the Political system. Yes, there are problems in the world, problems that all human beings should be passionate about, and yes, our government is imperfect. However, Brand offered no solutions or theories, simply stringing polysyllabic words together and throwing in ‘revolution’ willy-nilly.

Paxman questioned in the interview, “Is it true you don’t even vote?” Brand has never voted. By that stance, Brand is discouraging those who see him as role model to vote. He even states, “Why would I encourage a constituency of young people to vote?  Voting is a rite, not a requirement. As much as you choose who to vote for, you also reserve the option of abstaining. He shouldn’t vote because, as you can read in his article for The New Statesman, he is too discouraged by the idea of the political system to fully understand any policies or bills put forward by parties. The main problem with our system is that we are encouraged to vote based on things we could not truly understand, such as the EU trade agreements and the economy.

I agree with Brand that we should question the nature of voting. Why should I have a valid opinion on something I have never been fully educated on? However, Russell Brand’s idea of encouraging all not to vote would throw our country into an anarchist society based on lack of knowledge. Why shouldn’t a professor of Economy have a vote on Banking Reform? Why wouldn’t a Doctor have a vote on Healthcare? It even seems to stick a middle finger up to all that have battled, starved and given up their lives for the basic rite to vote. He insults people like Emily Davison, and with Brand having such a strong female following I can’t help but feel a guttural sense of disgust for his lack of respect for his own fans.

If you look past his extended vocabulary, I come from the kind of social conditions that are exacerbated by an indifferent system that really just administrates for large corporations and ignores the population that it was voted in to serve’, none of what he says is actually grounded with facts or anything more than passing observations. He even boarders on shouting Illuminati level conspiracy theories at one point when asked how he thinks politicians get into power, I imagine there are hierarchal systems that have been preserved through generations’. Just like the politician’s he is criticising, he too refuses to answer Paxman’s questions directly, often completely diverting the question to something he previously stated before making him repeat himself like a Creationist Republican.

The Left-Wing media are going wild for Russell Brand’s bait. And when I say ‘bait’, that’s exactly what it is. This was a stunt, full of half-baked political rants with no real substance. The biggest annoyance of this media storm is to see much respected papers like the Guardian placing him upon a pedestal on the backs of the people (most likely because of the amount they have invested into the persona of Russell over the years). You could even compare him to the character ‘Waldo’ from Charlie Brooker’s last episode of the fantastic series, ‘Black Mirror’. Russell Brand speaks of the UK’s problems, which are already common knowledge of voters. Everyone is angry at bankers and no one wants global warming. But like Waldo, he is an avatar of anger with no solution. If Brand did run for Government, I am sure he would get elected, but after that the only thing I can see Mr Brand doing is panic.

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GTA V: Time to think

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$260,000,000, five years in production and we were given Rockstar’s magnum opus, Grand Theft Auto V. A game with a fully working city and characters that really seem to have a life outside the gameplay.  But as we have come to expect from the franchise, it is riddled with controversy. Previously, the series has got away with the worst of it, but now it has really tried to tackle new and sensitive issues head on. Now that the media storm has died down, it is time to examine this game with a level head.

It seems Rockstar have had their heads well and truly in the news for the past six months. The Prism scandal and facebook privacy policies are represented through the company Life Invader. The discussions on waterboarding terrorists seems to have inspired a rather gruesome scene where the player is forced to electrocute, remove teeth with pliers as well as actually waterboard a man to help ‘FIB’ agents interrogate him. Even Paula Deen didn’t escape from Rockstar’s clutches, with a redneck radio station featuring a chef giving ridiculously fatty food recipes. The fabulously insane Meth dealer Trevor Philips seems to suggest they have been watching Breaking Bad too. Plus, they have delved into internet culture, with Illuminati and David Icke’s very own Reptilian humanoid references – it’s a game with its fingers right on the pulse of current affairs.

Many have accused the game to dumb down or even glorify some of the more serious themes. The drug infused rages both Michael and Trevor go through are childish imaginings of being inebriated, something that would be more at home in Saints Row or in the conversation between two teenagers trying to impress each other with highly exaggerated versions of drug stories.

The Life Invader missions seem at a glance to be a parody of privacy discussions that have been held over the summer, but to me it actually seems like good satire. The biggest grey area of the game is the previously mentioned torture scene. Yes, the game carries an 18 rating. Yes, your character then goes against orders and helps the prisoner escape the country. However, it’s EXTREMELY graphic. The player has to physically struggle with the controller to pull the man’s teeth out. The scene is utterly shocking, but it seems to be intentional. Maybe it is a contemporary way of highlighting the horrors of secret warfare. The only worry is that people see games as simulations, and someone, somewhere could use this for ‘pleasure’.

Adam Sessler of Rev3Games stated that people will ‘look back upon GTA V, like we do to Charles Dickens’. No, no we won’t.  At least, I hope we won’t. It’s great that we have a game highlighting these issues, but most of them have no clear opinion on them, and some are just unfair mockeries that can be easily taken either way. The game is offensive, but not for the reasons that the media are currently pumping out.

Yet again, it is still completely misogynistic.  The start of the game is filled with rape jokes and the female characters are arguably even worse than any previous GTA title. With Rockstar giving the player three characters to choose from, I was left crying out to see a playable female. Even if she was a prostitute or a stripper (like Rockstar like to believe every woman is) it would be great to experience a woman in a man’s underworld. It seems Rockstar are brave enough to piss off the media and mothers, but not to challenge their teenage male demographic in immersing as a woman in a video game.

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Russia: Picking up the American Dream – A Warning to Europe

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Nothing can overstate the inhumanity of any form of torture. But when people take it upon themselves to commit such horrific acts of brutality, we need to question how or why? What enables such extreme acts of hate in ordinary people?

With the huge push for gay marriage around the world, (France and Argentina leading the way) Russia’s new ‘anti-gay’ laws have stolen the centre stage. These laws ban any form of gay ‘propaganda’, and seem to have caused a domino effect on the Russian state of mind, with groups justifying the homosexual lynchings. Men and woman kidnapped, beaten, tortured and even killed on camera by NeoNazi groups. But why now?

The EU and the US like to pretend that Russia is still a straight forward dictatorship, as if we are still in the cold war, and Putin is simply the contrary, almost pantomime villain in the corner. However, it seems in recent years Putin’s party (United Russia, with so called ‘centrist conservative policies’) are in fact pandering to voting demographics, more specifically the Orthodox Christians.

This is not a new political tactic. It is in fact one of the most successful tactics a party could enact. We in the developed west like to pretend we wouldn’t be seduced by such simplicity, we think of ourselves to be too educated, but it already has dug its claws into our society.

The American Republican party never used to be so dominated by the inner circles of the hyper-religious, creationist Tea party. In 1974, Republican strategist Paul Weyrich developed a tactic to tap into a huge, completely new, undecided demographic. The Christian public (mainly the Evangelicals) now known politically as ‘The New Right’. These people had been previously told not to vote by their ministers. So, the Republicans began supporting ‘pro-life’ and other fundamentalist opinions, meaning that ministers could now justify preaching conservative policies to their congregations.

This span out of control.

The New Right wanted more. After Watershed, Paul Weyrich even stated “We are talking about Christianizing America. We are talking about simply spreading the gospel in a political context”. Thus, we have the sinister hilarity of such inhumane beings of Sarah Palin. A party that argue how gay marriage will lead to bestiality, paedophilia and other such ridiculous claims. People who claim that Russia’s laws are not homophobic, but ‘homorealistic’ – American Family Association.

Make no mistake, this is the Christian version of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood began as an attempt to put Islamic law in place of federal laws in Egypt. They felt only the laws of God should be upheld and any opinion against this was blasphemy. Now Russia has a Blasphemy law, where Russian’s are now legally forbidden speak against the church to defend themselves and their sexuality. This law has already incarcerated two members of the feminist group ‘Pussy Riot’for demonstrating in the Moscow Cathedral Christ the Saviour. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina both received two years in hard labour camps 400 kilometres from their homes.

Putin and Orthodox

What can the UK do about this? Stephen fry called to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics, and maybe we should. We should certainly be offering asylum for gay russian citizens. One thing is for definite is that we should learn from the atrocities that have occurred these past few weeks.

Before July 17th this year, we were still discussing gay marriage in the UK. It was a depressing site to see Conservative voters and Tory MP’s winning a majority in polls AGAINST gay marriage. Cameron risked his career to support homosexuality and I commend him. He went against his party, and even his voters, but he did the right thing, however his backbenchers did not. These people openly supported the archaic views of Christianity. We must not let the new right dig it’s talons of hate into Britain. We cannot allow for our own Michele Bachman. Find out what your MP voted, and see if you are comfortable having a bigot representing you.