I find myself slightly hesitant in writing this, because I don’t generally write directly about people as much as considering their work. But in the case of Russell Brand the two seem so closely combined it’s almost impossible to speak of one without the other.
Which is a truth in itself, I suppose. He’s someone who’s taken his life experiences, his personal journey through various difficulties and his broader search for meaning and made ‘all of that’ part of what he offers us as a public figure.
And it seems in many ways that he is quite representative of modern life in an extreme form: struggling with finding an acceptable place in society, with how to contribute something worthwhile, with the image we present to the world and how it makes us feel, with what seems right and constructive both personally and collectively, and with how to overcome things that challenge us.
As part of that, he seems to offer an interesting example of how we might work through our difficulties and hopefully face up to them with responsibility and optimism. So many people seem to be battling addictions of numerous sorts in life, making mistakes and needing to find ways beyond it all. Presenting a flawed yet human face to the world takes courage.
And, in grappling with the realities of existence, Brand presents an image of both intelligence and individualism; a lively and curious mind looking to make connections and find answers.
But while that rather public journey does seem to have value in itself, I suppose what interests me most – and the reason I’ve chosen to write this – is his relatively recent move into more social, political and spiritual conversations on his podcast “Under The Skin”. In this, he seems a fairly unique voice within British culture as he applies that inquisitive and open mind to exploring many of the ideas modern society rests upon.
While I might not necessarily agree with all the ideas expressed there or the manner in which they are raised, that’s not really the point. For me, it’s that deeper conversations start happening and words are found to wander into sometimes uncharted territories and begin to find our bearings.
That someone would willingly push themselves into the unknown then seek to find their feet out there under intense public scrutiny seems both fascinating and valuable. Because the journey to personal and social understanding is one we are all on in a way, as we try to reach for ideas to make sense of our lives and figure out what to do for the best.
That’s never really going to be easy, or perfect, but I think it helps that we’re not alone in our questioning. So, quite aside from his successful career in other areas, the way Russell Brand is starting these conversations around some often complex, unusual and important issues, and the fact he lets us in on these personal journeys of transformation, seem some quite interesting contributions to modern society.
Notes and References:
“Under The Skin” podcast is accessible via https://www.russellbrand.com/podcasts/