Paul's passionate about popular culture and has followed British comedy for forty years. Born and raised in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
Russell Brand divides opinion. While he has many loyal fans who adore him, there are also many who strongly dislike him. This article highlights what his critics see as Brand's main character flaws and gives examples of his bad behavior.
Brand first came to prominence as a comedian in the UK, subsequently branching out and becoming a TV presenter, as well as working as a voice and movie actor. In the US, he achieved wide public exposure through his short-lived marriage to pop star Katy Perry.
In more recent times, Brand has turned his attentions toward political campaigning on social, economic and environmental issues, including topics such as substance abuse, corporate capitalism, media bias, climate change, and matters related to the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Below are five negatives that people give as reasons for why Brand annoys, irritates, or otherwise attracts their ire.
Note: I will attempt to be as even-handed as possible in this article. However, while I wouldn't say that I "hate" Brand, I will freely admit that I consider myself to be one of his detractors.
5 Reasons Why People Dislike Russell Brand So Much
Here are five reasons why Russell Brand's detractors react negatively towards him:
- Extreme Narcissism and Misogyny
- Anti-Science and Conspiratorial
- Pseudo-Intellectual Nonsense
- Vague Solutions and Passive-aggressive Pseudo-Love-Speak
I explore each of these five negatives in more detail below.
1. Extreme Narcissism and Misogyny
Brand has gained a reputation for self-centeredness and arrogance over the years. While he proclaims he's helping and enlightening others and motivated by loving kindness, his behavior can come across as egocentric and self-promoting.
Although a detractor like myself would concede that Brand has made positive contributions to certain topics, such promoting awareness of substance abuse and addiction issues, Brand regularly undermines his reputation by promoting attention-grabbing tactics and ideas.
Brand has also been accused of misogamy. He's admitted to this, but claims that his bad behavior against women is all in his past.
His standing on this matter certainly wasn't helped by his alleged behavior towards pop star Katy Perry during their time together. The marriage seemed to start out well enough, with a whirlwind romance followed by an exotic Hindu wedding ceremony in India, but then appeared to go downhill rapidly.
Brand supposedly had a very cavalier attitude towards the relationship and signaled his intention to separate from Perry with a text message. Just over a year after they tied the knot, Brand applied for a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
2. Anti-Science and Conspiratorial
Despite pushing a largely liberal agenda early on in his career, Russell Brand has increasingly embraced right wing conspiracy theories.
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Many of his more extreme ideas either imply, or outright accuse sinister forces of operating within the liberal political establishment and media. Targets of his ire also extend to elements of mainstream science and medicine.
The biggest villain in Brand's book Revolution is not a capitalist or corrupt politician, but the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Brand condemns him as a “menopausal” proponent of “atheistic tyranny,” mainly due to Dawkins' rejection of Brand's New Age agenda.
Brand's bogus revolutionary politics are in many ways laughable, but his take on the COVID-19 pandemic has the scope to do real harm.
Brand has cast doubt on the trustworthiness of the FDA, questioning whether vaccine mandates are an attack on people’s bodily freedoms, labelled the vaccine a "gold rush" and questioned the honesty and integrity of Bill Gates.
While Brand might self-identify himself as a "freethinker," a critic of "dominant narratives," the only people who benefit from his vaccine skepticism are the anti-vaxxers.
3. Pseudo-Intellectual Nonsense
As with many comedians, Brand knows how to grab an audience's attention and hold onto it. His YouTube videos are effective at employing clickbait titles and they create the expectation that the viewer will receive important knowledge if they watch.
Brand knows a lot of long words and can string them together into sentences that can sound meaningful, even when they don't actually add up to anything of substance.
The lack of substance is problematic. You can reach the end of one of his long-winded diatribes on YouTube and come away wondering what, if anything, Brand has actually said of value.
Rather than relying on hard facts or asserting definitive beliefs, Brand's technique is to insinuate. He raises doubts and casts aspersions, and wraps them up in important-sounding words and phrases.
Nick Cohen's review of Brand's political manifesto Revolution in The Guardian summed up Brand's politics as: "the barmy credo of a Beverly Hills Buddhist," and his writing as: "atrocious: long-winded, confused and smug; filled with references to books Brand has half read and thinkers he has half understood."
Why I Hate Russell Brand
4. Vague Solutions and Passive-aggressive Pseudo-Love-Speak
While there's no doubt that Brand's political and social criticisms tap into genuine widespread disillusionment with the state of modern politics, economics, and environmental decay, Brand's solutions come across as vague, even glib.
There's a sense that Brand enjoys portraying himself as a contrarian, that he's someone who wants to project an anti-establishment vibe without ever getting bogged down by the complexities and realities of his subject matter.
Whether he intends it or not, this approach makes him appear shallow. His commitment seems to be focused on creating an oppositional image, rather than actively constructing a realistic alternative.
Brand's use of New Age buzz words and gibberish can also be problematic. Expressions like "love" and "spiritual growth" might sound great when used in conjunction with certain lifestyle choices or religious beliefs, but lack clarity when applied to wider political and economic issues.
Often, one wonders what Brand's solutions actually mean in practice, but Brand rarely tells us.
There is something unsettling about him and not in a good way. His wild-eyed delivery style, which often mixes angry self-righteous rants with pseudo-love-speak, is just plain weird and creepy.
Perhaps the trait that annoys people most about Russell Brand is the arrogant and self-satisfied demeanor that he projects. While he's certainly no idiot, he's really not as clever, insightful, or funny as he apparently thinks he is.
I remember the first time that I saw Brand on TV, he was presenting a Big Brother related show, and I remember thinking: who is this weird guy?
In some ways, I wanted to like him: his flamboyant dress sense and animated delivery, as well as the err of vulnerability that he possessed, certainly made him intriguing. However, there was also something about his demeanor that seriously jarred.
If his schtick was intended to be amusing, it certainly fell flat. I know that people have different senses of humor, but to this day I've never been able to work out what people find funny about his comedy.
His overconfidence in his own abilities causes me to cringe when he's being serious, His analysis of political and social issues reminds me of myself when I was a teenager. There's a lot of opinionated bluster, but rarely any genuine experience or knowledge to back it up.
Brand thinks he's bringing something meaningful to the table, but it's little more than a shallow rant about a world that he barely understands.
© 2022 Paul Goodman