It’s nice when a celebrity can manage to be both politically engaged and self-effacing at the same time. It’s a quality you don’t rarely see — usually, when the famous engage in political activism, they are either a) visibly thrilled with themselves for having Educated Opinions or b) cripplingly insecure, and so overcompensate wildly by having a totally inflated concept of how much their political opinions matter.
But in a recent post about visiting Occupy Wall Street, Russell Brand seems to understand that he’s basically a spectator in this sport, since he’s probably not really part of the 99%, and since he also probably won’t stay at the event for very long. He writes about being inexplicably drawn to the protests nevertheless, and what happens once he arrives:
Leaving my apartment with an objective no grander than to go for a run I somehow landed amidst Zuccotti’s tarpaulin sprawl in unforgivable leggings and a headband that would have had Alice reaching for a shard of cracked looking-glass…
Brianna who is seventeen, pagan-pretty and dusky, is attending college by day and occupying Wall Street by night like some heart wrenching cross between Pocahontas and Batman, said that young people are entitled to an education without being bound to a lifetime of debt. Whilst “Messiah” (there’s a lot of those names flying about, go with it; it’s a small price to pay for Utopia) literally danced into the conversation and self consciously, but touchingly, divided up and shared a stick of gum in a “Sermon on the Mount” brought to us by Juicy Fruit. You might think, that given her name, that was the least she could do, but we’re talking about a sixteen-year-old girl here. If Fox News and the Daily Mail are to be believed I’m damn lucky she didn’t shiv me in the guts and film it on her phone.
Here in Zuccotti Square these young people clearly felt safe, purposeful, included and behaved with charm, compassion and respect. Naturally I was impressed but more agitated than ever by my jogging outfit. Really, it’s terrible, I mean if we’re going to bring about systemic and meaningful social change, I want to be dressed for it.
He goes on to write about his next visit, for which he was more appropriately dressed and similarly well-received (which isn’t that surprising, Brand being, one might assume, a favorite among Occupy protesters), but he eloquently describes what he would have done if he were in their shoes:
The next day I returned to learn more, in a very fetching scarf with my friend Daniel Pinchbeck the brilliant writer, radical and ludicrously, yet truthfully titled “psychedelic Shaman”.
One of the movement’s significant principles is that there are no appointed leaders. That said, there are more experienced and pragmatic inhabitants to whom Daniel and I chatted. We were given a tour of the site and in spite of the lashing rain and gales, which I, of course regarded as the winds of change and cleansing rain, all we encountered were bonhomous and welcoming. Much more than I’d anticipated. Let’s face facts, one of the campaign’s few edicts is to provide the unrepresented 99% with a voice, had I, when I fitted into that demographic, chanced upon a touring celebrity I would have used that voice to tell him to fuck off, no matter how nice his scarf was.
Anyway, rather than excerpt the entire thing I’ll just suggest that you follow the above link, and read the post. It’s a great recap of what’s going on out there in the world.