Russell Brand: An Underlying Message of Kindness
I must admit that Russell Brand wasn’t on my radar until recently. I can’t remember when or why I started paying attention, but I’m so glad I did. I was especially pleased to start watching The Trews, Brand’s morning ritual/ dissection of modern pop media, conducted from his bedroom. For me, the program provides a formula for mindfully reading the news. This is the intro:
As Brand flips through the pages of paper after paper, he continually attempts to demonstrate the ways in which the media can sensationalize trivial information to distract larger audiences from more important things like kindness, inequality, etc. Typically, he shares the morning topics, then he talks about the messages these newspaper headlines are sending (fear! sex!) and then sometimes he reads a meaningful story or something from a Buddhist text.
The following video about last year’s Ellen Oscar selfie is a perfect example of The Trews formula. It’s a really lovely, thoughtful, episode:
The above video is an example of good teaching. Brand shows us headlines and photos from newspapers and he explains how these images and words are designed to tickle the amygdala and keep us highly stimulated, afraid, etc. In every one of Brand’s videos, I always see a great teacher with a lot of good data. He breaks things down cleverly and with great humor, and then he redirects our attention to things like the importance of kindness and the interconnectedness of all people.
In this post, I’ve curated a few “Brand kindness” videos for you.
The second video in my “Brand Kindness playlist” is the one Brand posted after the tragic death of Robin Williams. This video relays such an important message about kindness and compassion. I believe it should be shared and revisited frequently:
from the video:
“Why is this happening? Why are brave people with successful lives committing suicide? Do you want to ascribe it to just ‘one of those things’ or do you want to risk looking at it for even a moment as potentially being indicative of a kind of loss of connection – connection to ourselves, connections to one another, connection to our environment. It seems to me that there is a story that you can take from it, that there’s a kind of sad disconnection [happening] when someone who is capable of generating so much humor and joy and laughter reaches that point…
If as a people – as humanity – we want to take anything from it, perhaps we can remember how precious and special and vulnerable and fragile people are no matter how they seem… not to close ourselves off from one another and to be present for each other…. We’re here on this little planet in infinite space – a little team of people – [so let’s] not encourage stories and ideas that isolate & make us adverse to one another… [but] instead promote stories and ideas of mutual togetherness.”
The next two videos were made in response to the vicious and alarming media attacks that actresses are forced to deal with when they leave the house looking different (most recently, Renee Zellweger and Uma Thurman):
from the video:
“She doesn’t look that different! It’s Renee Zellweger. It’s not like her head’s been replaced by a marshmallow or a roller skate.”
Good point, Mr. Brand.
In the Uma video, Brand takes the opportunity to talk about body dysmorphia and mental illness and to direct viewers to resources for help.
from the video:
“I’m also not fond of the “broke the Internet” phrase because what you’re actually breaking is the bond between human beings … “
In the following video, Brand talks about a 90 year-old man in Florida who was arrested for feeding the homeless. In the video, Brand asks:
“How can a person who is old and lovely and helping the homeless be considered a [criminal]? How can you arrange your moral universe so that this is criminal?”
In the following video, Brand is interviewed with Eve Ensler on Gaiam TV and they discuss (as Ensler puts it) how to “create energetic shifts in helping people become transformers of the world.” And they ponder this fundamental question:
“How can we use cultural engineering to bring about a transformation? … How do we generate kindness, how do we generate images of kindness and the possibility of kindness?”
The final clip is a montage someone made on YouTube that highlights Brand’s spiritual beliefs and his devotion to transcendental meditation: