GUT CHECK: Hollywood's Fading Brand

GUT CHECK: Hollywood's Fading Brand

For the past week or so, Russell Brand and I have been jabbing at each other on the web and TV. It all began when Brand attacked Fox News Contributor and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley for his commentary on Ferguson.

Brands comment’s were racially motivated, and they are on record. I ran 3 snippets of his garbage on the show I co-host, called The Five, so viewers could see it dribbling from the horses’ mouth himself.

To summarize Brand’s bigoted smear:

Because Riley’s perspective didn’t conform to Brand’s stereotype of a black man, he called Riley a traitor to his own race. Maybe in Brand’s world, all blacks wear saggy pants and break windows. He has yet to rescind these cartoonish beliefs, so I take him at his word.

Because Riley didn’t sound like Brand’s stereotypical black man, Brand mocked him for sounding like a white man. This kind of smear goes beyond flippant joking — it’s a common weapon used against young blacks embracing any form of education. For some, advancing yourself in a classroom is viewed as white, not “ghetto” — and so to defy such assumptions — you risk celebrities like Brand humiliating you from the back of a limo, to the seal-like acceptance of his fans who find such racism “edgy.” 

Brand reflects a larger phenomenon that paints “authentic” blackness as antithetical to education. Brand knows telling a young black American that he looks or sounds too white is an insult. 

By his standards, our president isn’t black enough. I wonder who is black enough for this white British socialist.

This kind of thinking has been covered widely by many black scholars, and even our president has commented on these toxic notions. 

Brand, of course perpetuates education as “stigma” to blacks only — but not to whites. Brand is hyper-articulate, and so is Riley. Yet it is Riley who isn’t allowed such brilliance. Only Brand can use the big words, I suppose.

Lastly, Brand hypothesized that due to Riley’s opinions, he probably lives in a white neighborhood — a claim that implies blacks should live only among their kind — or in Brand’s view, you are not really that black at all. This goes against everything a color-blind society seeks, and instead supports the view of white separatists. 

Pretty sick stuff, in the year 2014: a well known white comedian espousing such grim views, and not a single example of blowback in the media, except for little old me. Not even from Hollywood.

Pretty weird, huh?

Now, Brand belched these noxious fumes like a dilapidated double decker just weeks after calling for a boycott of Israel. 

He urged big businesses to cut ties with Israel, for their connections only “facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza.” Oppression? Are they the ones who start these fights with missile attacks? Are they the ones who use ceasefires to reload? This is pure anti-west drivel, using Israel as a proxy for all of us. Is it anti-Semitic? At this point, who can know? Wherever there is an instigation of violence, Brand sees “underdog.” I give Brand credit — he just doesn’t fashion himself as Che with shallow novelty t-shirts. He assumes the role. A real method actor.

According to the Independent newspaper, he targeted Barclays, because they manage the portfolios of Israeli defense companies. Of course, one could point out that Brand’s outrage is oddly mute concerning those other oppressors instigating death among civilians by lobbing bombs (their name rhymes with “Hamas”), but why point out something that he might view as an integral part of a greater struggle against evil corporatism?

After all, it’s only been roughly 13 years since Brand showed up at work at MTV, the day after the ghastly terror attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, dressed as Osama bin laden. According to various reports, Brand was rightly fired, despite claiming he was high at the time. What’s his excuse, now?

But I return to Brand’s recent racial outbursts, and wonder why no one seems to mind.

In this response to me, via YouTube, he pretty much avoids commenting on his bigoted notions, and instead focuses on me, evil corporations, and the vague corruptions of power. This is the mark of an adolescent, lost debater: enlarging the canvas rather than confronting the specific topic, which were his asinine commentaries.

He’s right, though, about one thing: power. But he’s got the wrong offender. This lefty yeti that is Brand is an example of the poisonous power — not of corporations — but of celebrity.

Rusty has attained a status that allows a free pass for prejudices that would normally sink a frat boy, drunk and skulking on Twitter.

Imagine, if you will, Russell’s limo driver turning around to him and saying, “Okay, Mr. Brand — we’re heading into the black neighborhood. I can tell because they all talk the same.”

How is that any different than this dorm-room socialist’s stagnant spew directed at Mr. Riley?

They aren’t. The only difference is not in word, but in wordsmith.

Brand can say such things because he is a “brand” name.

A declining one, perhaps. But that he can say such things and Hollywood accepts it speaks to that industry’s own self-chosen blindness. Hollywood, you okay with this guy? He’s anti-Israel, anti-west, and anti-black (if they aren’t black enough). What more could you ask for?! Is there any box he’s hasn’t checked? Thankfully, I guess, he didn’t advocate eating kittens. Then maybe PETA would say something. At least he knows who not to piss off.

Lastly, Brand suggests that my perspectives are worse than evil types like ISIS. It is an intriguing comparison, for I’ve never beheaded anyone, and I would never behead Brand (it might be considered redundant — but still, I’m a peaceful chap). However, if ISIS were to pay Brand a visit, and demand allegiance to Allah, how quickly would they dispense with the ragamuffin after he proclaims his sensible love for transcendental meditation?

That’s the true error of Brand’s toxic and ultimately dangerous vision. He conflates peace with passivity. For one man to continue with his rightful and joyous meditation (it works, I agree!), another must fight to protect it. 

And you can be that same man, if you choose to be. You can embrace such practices, and be willing to fight for it. Pacifism is the barnacle on the brave. Passivity of the comfortably civilized is what allows for the barbarism of the vengeful and the envious. Yeats said that first, I think — but way better.

Until then, Brand will continue his fight against the peaceful west, while “understanding” the rage of others, under the guise of universal, romantic, naive revolution. Lucky for him (and us) his revolution will never happen. Certain faiths aren’t a fan of his playful hedonism, and his pained protests that he “empathizes” will only end on a knife’s blade.

Greg Gutfeld is a mainstay on Fox News as co-host of The Five and the host of Red Eye. He’s also the NY Times best-selling author of Not Cool and The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage. For more from Greg check out hisofficial site or follow him on Twitter.


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