“THIS YouTube channel is gonna analyse media, it’s gonna dismantle media, it’s gonna create a new frequency of truth,” claimed former smack addict turned stand-up comedian turned flop film star turned revolutionary thinker Russell Band in the introduction to the online programme The Trews (like the news, but true, geddit?), which he launched in February.
The show is produced by none other than that well-known proponent of different frequencies of truth, Johann Hari (Eyes passim), and the gruesome twosome are certainly proving the revolution is safe in their hands…
2 Sept: The compulsory advert out of the way, Brand informs us that David Cameron’s “real priority as PM is to maintain [his] position as prime minister and serve multinational corporations”. He then explains the rise of ISIS with reference to the anti-Iraq war protests of 2003: "Make no bones about it. When them people, those million people were marching for Stop the War, the reason they were doing that was so this didn’t happen” – which, for rewriting history, is right up there with Tony Blair’s claim that Britain went to war in 1939 to stop Hitler’s persecution of Jews.
As for rumours of looming UK military involvement, “I don’t accept people that have lived in a milieu of constant cossetting and privilege like David Cameron coming on my TV set and saying that British working-class people have got to go over there and die.” British working-class people encouraging others to go over and die for jihad, however, appears to be just dandy: "The lad who murdered the American journalist went from being a disenfranchised youth from east London with no voice, no cultural identity worth having other than one of being under constant suspicion and condemnation, to directly addressing the president of the United States. You can see why that would be appealing.”
‘Turgid right-wing gelatin block of dishonest information’
4 Sept: Brand is very cross about having his position on ISIS misrepresented by the Independent and Huffington Post. Our Roget-gobbling hero makes things absolutely clear: "ISIS is a consequence of previous military action in the Middle East, corporate and transnational objectives, and duplicity and dissemination from Western governments.” Those who suspect he actually means dissembling are probably part of “the turgid right-wing gelatin block of dishonest information.”
5 Sept: A short episode today as Brand, 39, is “going to a meeting to tune my consciousness into selflessness”, but he has time to respond to a viewer’s suggestion that armed revolution might be the answer: "If you sort of look at it beyond the individual, the strand of energy named violence is one of the things we wanna avoid. In short, I love the way Che Guevara looks and I love Fidel Castro’s cigar smoking, and I love the stars on the Kalashnikovs and all that, but I don’t think you can be violent.”
Meanwhile, we are instructed to keep watching The Trews, rather than mainstream news, which is consumed “like a slightly sweet wet yoghurt” (you know, as opposed to the dry sort).
8 Sept: For episode 141, Brand returns to the subject of Fox News, the American channel to which he also devoted episodes 138, 133, 130, 129, 123, 117, 114, 113, 111, 100, 97, 89, 86 (that really is enough – Ed). They’re biased and tell lies, apparently – a point older readers might recall Al Franken and Michael Moore covering quite extensively a decade or so ago, and Jon Stewart touching on once or twice. Thankfully, with Hari on board, there’s no chance of Brand doing anything similar, and he shoots down the claims of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly with some statistics on “this bit of paper that I’ve got”.
Mildly homophobic digression
9 Sept: Fox News again. Brand is cross with presenter Sean Hannity for claiming that an interview with Anjem Choudary provides evidence of “what radical Islamists want”. “It’s only one bloke,” rants Brand. “Don’t get some radical Islamist on your programme and say he speaks for all Islam.” Which wasn’t what the Fox host was saying at all, but never mind: a lengthy and mildly homophobic digression about Hannity and Nigel Farage’s supposed interest in each other’s bottoms follows before Brand concludes that “people that govern” are up to “murky nonsense”.
10 Sept: Brand opens the show with a little spiel about how “The Trews is a hereditary dynasty” before helpfully pointing out: "I am of course already satirising the news that Kate is pregnant with a second baby.” And how, what with the fact that some episodes are broadcast from the country home of his partner Jemima Khan, whose £10m inheritance from her father James Goldsmith has enabled her to maintain her profile as a self-described “journalist and Unicef UK ambassador”!
Slightly less satirically successful is Brand’s dissection of a Nicholas Witchell-fronted BBC report, in which one of his main objections appears to be to the relative size of royals and children, and the way it obliges the former to “stoop patronisingly in” when accepting flowers from the latter. His conclusion on the royals is that “the whole system is about the enforcement and the continued inculcation of privilege”. Consider your mind well and truly blown.