Is Russell Brand a hypocrite?

We’re used to seeing flamboyant comedian Russell Brand prancing across an arena stage, all long-legged and bushy haired – but the British comic has been a constant fixture in the press recently for something very different. But are people losing interest in the funny man turned self-proclaimed saviour of the UK underclasses?

This morning Russell Brand graced the cover of British tabloid paper, The Sun, but the comedian was in no way flattered by the front page exposure.

The headline story alluded to a recent poll by the paper in partnership with YouGov, where readers were asked, in regards to his recent protesting for people facing eviction from their homes, whether Russell Brand was a hypocrite.

Last week Brand stood outside number 10 to champion the cause of the New Era estate in Hoxton, ​where 93 residents are faced with eviction after the blocks – originally built 80-odd years ago as affordable housing – were sold to a US private equity firm. A firm that with a very brazen and clear agenda, to refurbish the flats, add a couple of storeys on to the side, then inflate the rent to market level and offer them to whoever can afford them. Which is incidentally, not the families and people who currently call them home.

The alleged statistics collected by The Sun suggested that 68% of those polled said the once working class Brand was a hypocrite.

WNOL decided to take matters into their own hands and went out to ask people whether they agreed with the  Sun’s bold statement.

Brand has faced a barrage of recent criticism for being stuck in so-called ‘hypocritical headlamps’ for campaigning against these increased rental rates in East London where once-deprived areas have now become high-priced hipster pads.

He has repeatedly spoken out against both the high costs of living in London and the importance of cracking down on tax-avoiding firms.

But whilst the wannabe-revolutionist was in the cold outside number 10, he was safe in the knowledge he would soon be back in his warm £2.3 million London home.

Of course it wasn’t going to take long for reporters to start asking questions about the multi-millionaires luxurious home life, which he was seemingly trying not to disclose. An inkling that was soon proven when a brave reporter chose to do just that.

The channel 4 reporter’s question was met with a whole lot of defensive finger jabbing and a plethora of squinty-eyed ‘how dare you’ looks.

Brand then retorted ‘Well it’s rented’, ‘we don’t know the value, you’d have to talk to my landlord….’

Which is the kind of answer you’d expect from a well media trained individual who isn’t going to help you dig the dirt. The kind of dirt, perhaps, that might be hiding a tax avoiding landlord. The comedian conveniantly pays rent for his expensive London home to a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands, often referred to as a tax haven.

Brands response to the entire interview was, of course, to threaten to sue Channel 4. But was this because the questions about his rent were unnecessary or because he was scared his ‘man of the people’ disguise was about to be dismissed?

Russell Brand was born in Essex in 1975 where he lived for most of his young life in a council house, similar to those found in the New Era estate. He has never hidden his working class roots and admits to growing up poor. But as a shining example of social mobility, he has now overcome poverty and a serious history of addiction by finding success as a comedian, actor and writer.

Brand once said; ‘when I was poor and complained about inequality, they said I was bitter, now I’m rich and complain about inequality and they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m starting to think they just don’t want to talk about inequality.’

And he may just be right.

As an individual who was once forced to live in council housing and knows what it is like to live on the breadline, he is more educated about the current housing gap than most of our entrusted politicians.

The comedian has tirelessly protested about the division between the poor and super-rich. He uses his undeniable intelligence and flair for debate to voice the concerns of the public, who do not have the societal presence he can offer.

And with his working class background and current rich-man bank balance, it seems he may just be capable of having a skinny-jeaned leg in both camps.

As a successful and wealthy comic, who once openly admitted to his ‘messiah complex’, Brand will undoubtedly face criticism. His success (and expensive London flat) make it difficult for him to be wholly accepted as ‘working class’ whatever his childhood might otherwise indicate, but surely a rich man who cares about poor people is better than a rich man who doesn’t.

And that should end the argument.

Words: Annabelle Price

Image: Jessie Essex

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