“Don’t be afraid of your own sexuality,” Russell Brand says in a chat clip dating back to the height of his fame in the mid-noughties. The comedian, his hair slicked back into his then-signature bird’s nest, pauses before adding a caveat in a more subdued tone. “I’m a little afraid of me though.”
It’s just one of many such scenes painstakingly unearthed by the producers of “Dispatches.” Russell Brand: In sightwhich have taken on sinister significance in the wake of the disturbing allegations against the 48-year-old in the Channel 4 documentary and an investigation The Sunday Times And The times.
Both the film and the Just The report detailed allegations of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse by four different women, which Brand strenuously denied in a YouTube video posted before the story broke. He claims that all of his previous relationships during his “period of promiscuity” were “absolutely always consensual”; Today he is a self-proclaimed wellness guru who spreads dubious conspiracy theories on his social media channels. He has also suggested that “the mainstream media” is “trying to engineer a very coordinated attack” on him because of his controversial views.
Until then In clear view The horrific allegations that aired on Saturday evening were visible in black and white on the website Just website for several hours, but the broadcasts The film still managed to add new dimensions to the already shocking allegations. With its montage of clips from Brand’s TV and radio back catalog (many of which come from Channel 4’s archives, from shows like Big brother’s big mouth), the 90-minute film showed how his comedy repeatedly raised worrying warning signs. It opens with footage from Brand’s 2006 stand-up special shame: When he appears on stage in one of his standard disheveled, quasi-Dickensian ensembles, he makes a joke about oral sex before making gagging noises to appear gagging.
This sort of thing was completely par for the course in Brand’s stand-up: his whole, well, brand starred in his tabloid persona as “Shagger of the Year” (like The sun crowned him three years in a row) and his willingness to shock. The phrase “in plain sight” is often used when we’re trying to look back at a suspected predator’s past behavior, but it feels particularly (and terribly) appropriate here. Later in the routine, Brand admits that he enjoys “those blowjobs where the mascara runs a little.” It is an almost exact representation of the testimony of an accuser, referred to in the report as “Alice,” who was a 16-year-old schoolgirl at the time of her relationship with the then 31-year-old Brand. She claims he “forced his penis.” down [her] Neck,” he later told her, “I just wanted to see how your mascara was going anyway.”
From what was shown in the documentary, it seems that the signs were all there, unashamedly present and correct in his live performance and on his BBC 2 radio show (in which a shocking audio clip reminds us, Brand once called out Jimmy Savile and promised to send his assistant to him naked – long before the “Sachsgate” scandal forced him off the show. We just didn’t bother to question it. In Brand’s heyday in the mid-noughties Statements like these were considered nervous, but that was perfectly acceptable – they might have provoked nervous laughter, but laughter nonetheless. It’s telling that when Brand insulted a (male) national treasure – it took him and co-host Jonathan Ross being suggestive made comments about it Fawlty Towers Georgina Baillie, the granddaughter of actor Andrew Sachs – to force him off the airwaves.
The film serves as a dark indictment of the deep-rooted, everyday misogyny of the noughties, but also highlights how little has changed. Early in the film, we learn of allegations of Brand’s inappropriate behavior toward young female runners working on his shows. As an adult, “Alice” got a job at Channel 4: as was inevitable, Brand was suggested as a potential presenter for a project she was working on in late 2013 or 2014. When fears were raised about his alleged behavior, a vexing solution was offered, she claims: that female staff would be removed from the crew.
What’s also particularly depressing is the fact that only one comedian, Scottish stand-up actor Daniel Sloss, was willing to go on the record and talk about how the allegations against Brand have been something of a saga in comedy circles for years were an open secret. Many male comics are happy to share platitudes about the need for diversity and inclusion in their industry and the value of the #MeToo movement (in fact, Brand himself has done this in previous interviews). But what does that mean if they are unwilling to speak out against one of their own?