Ia video released last year, sandwiched between episodes on what Covid vaccine supplier Pfizer ‘isn’t telling you’ and Donald Trump’s ‘bezerker’ qualities as a consensus-breaking force – themes familiar to the millions of subscribers to Russell Brand’s Stay Free Channel – there has been a change in tone.
The subject of the daily episode was not the usual diet of conspiracy theories, mainstream media criticism and fanciful football talk, but rather the US libel trial involving Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in which the veracity allegations of domestic violence made by the Hollywood star’s ex-wife were being investigated.
Depp, who indeed beat his wife during a British court appearance over a similar defamation claim, was said by Brand to have made a good impression in the Virginia court where Heard’s testimony was rejected by a jury. Then Brand had a moment of introspection.
He said: “Human beings are imperfect and fallible and generally, personally speaking, again, from my personal experience, in places where there is the most privacy, I am most at risk, of ‘somehow, to behave in a way that is ugly – still, of course, within the bounds of the law, I hope, but in a way that does not conform to the kind of moral codes that I like to at least aspire to live.
Speaking further from the converted pub in an Oxfordshire village that is his studio, Brand confessed to not always doing well in failing relationships, admitting to unspecified “disgraceful behavior”. “However, I would not like it to turn into entertainment,” he said of the media’s dissection of the Depp-Heard relationship. It was a desperate hope.
Last Friday, it was via his channel on the video platform Rumble that Brand first commented on rumors that the Sunday Times and Channel 4 Dispatches were preparing to publish “very, very serious criminal allegations” . They would include rape.
He denied the allegations.
Brand has since performed a comedy show in front of 2,000 people at the Troubadour Theater Wembley Park, during which he told the audience that “there are obviously some things I absolutely can’t talk about”. Other scheduled concerts were postponed and he did not film another video for his 6.5 million subscribers. It’s a rare break.
Brand, 48, launched his internet career in 2014 with his own YouTube series, called The Trews: True News with Russell Brand. There were more than 200 episodes in the first year, but the renewed interest in his views came after he began suggesting that governments’ response to the Covid pandemic as well as that of the pharmaceutical industry and “mainstream media” were part of a conspiracy.
“If the response to the pandemic was to save lives, why didn’t anything happen until it affected the stock market? he asked in a video.
These views have only hardened over time, his videos suggest, and only the first 15 minutes are now shown on YouTube due to “regulation.” Google said it would remove content from the site that spreads medical misinformation.
YouTube viewers were instead invited by Brand to switch over and enjoy “free speech” on Rumble. “Being on YouTube, we have to be careful in what we say,” he recently warned his supporters. On Tuesday, YouTube said it was now blocking Brand from making money through his channel for “violating our Creator Responsibility Policy.” Advertisers pay YouTube to show their ads before, during or after videos.
There have been a group of regular Brand targets, including Bill Gates, whose motives for investing in lab-grown meat have recently been called into question, as well as Barack Obama for falling under the definition of a war criminal under the Geneva conventions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has also been criticized for his apparent role in turning his country into a colony serving American corporate interests.
Last year, Brand was joined by sidekick Gareth Roy, a stand-up producer and director who has made content for C4, Sky, BBC Three, MTV, YouTube, FX and Comedy Central, according to his LinkedIn account. Roy echoes Brand’s views on all things conspiratorial and launches into his monologues. But the videos are carefully written. Accusing questions are asked more often than assertive positions, with viewers, referred to as “woke wonders,” asked to connect the dots themselves.
There are famous guests such as academic Jordan Peterson and former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, for whom Brand seems to have a growing respect. “Tucker has become a protest figure now, hasn’t he?” Brand said recently. “He now exists in the same space as us in independent media. »
And all of this is interspersed with advertisements voiced by Brand himself for a range of products from stickers to dietary supplements, as well as repeated requests for those watching to become subscribers at $60 a year. A portion of the show’s proceeds would go to Brand’s Stay Free Foundation, which aims to support addicts in their recovery but is too new to have filed a set of accounts. One of the charities supported by the foundation, Trevi, which helps women affected by drug addiction and with children in their care, has already ended its association.
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