Last night, Channel 4 advertised a new expose piece for Dispatches, and social media was abuzz about who it could be about. Very quickly, people began to discern it was going to be about Russell Brand, and that this, apparently, had been coming for a long time. Dispatches is Channel 4’s award-winning investigative documentaries that have, in the past, detailed topics, like Brexit, all the way to last night’s episode on Russell Brand.
The documentary was investigated by The Times, over the last year, as over 4 women came forward with sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and rape claims against the comedian.
Russell Brand, famous for his comedy specials, has recently moved over to YouTube, where he uploads videos on wellness and gives advice about addictions and relationships, as well as spirituality. The famous videos he posts take apart mainstream media, claiming journalism now likes to spread an agenda to adhere to its corporate employers (The Telegraph, 2021). Brand’s videos began with analysing the mainstream media and their headlines, alongside supporting left-leaning principles. However, in recent years, he has turned to conspiracy theories more than anything else.
George Monboit wrote for The Guardian in March this year to discuss how he once admired the comedian’s move to politics back in 2014 on YouTube but has since now become a bad voice within political discourse:
“He appears to have switched from challenging injustice to conjuring phantoms. If, as I suspect it might, politics takes a very dark turn in the next few years, it will be partly as a result of people like Brand” (The Guardian, March 2023). Monboit went on to point out that Brand’s “videos appear to promote “natural immunity” ahead of vaccines, and for a while pushed ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for Covid (they aren’t)” (The Guardian, March 2023). All such claims were originally made by far-right conspirators before Brand brought them to light.
The Dispatches documentary, which aired last night at 9 pm on Channel 4, discussed the allegations made against the comedian. The four women who came forward remained anonymous, their stories told by actors, and their names changed, but the words were their own.
The most damning of them is ‘Alice’s’ story, where she alleged the comedian groomed her and abused her when she was 16 and Brand was in his early 30s at the time. She went on to give a tearful account of a sexually violent act he performed on her, which left her traumatised (BBC News, September 2023). The allegations made by the women range from 2006 to 2013, and detail times he would expose himself to staff members, proposition them, and rape former sexual partners.
Staff working on Big Brother’s Big Mouth, where Brand was the host from 2004 to 2006 (and hosted Celebrity Big Brother’s Big Mouth from 2005 to 2007) described how the comedian would pick women he liked the look of out of the audience and pass notes to runners to pass onto the women.
One staff member on the show stated: “Looking on the face of it, it’s like Russell having sex with women over 18, who are seemingly consenting, so what’s the big deal in that? The thing that’s not okay, it’s this atmosphere of women being dispensable; women being used for sex; that you can pick them up at work like out of a menu. They’re all really harmful attitudes, and it creates an environment of permission, which can then snowball into things that are more serious” (Russell Brand: In Plain Sight, Dispatches, September 2023).
Prior to Channel 4’s documentary, Brand took to his YouTube channel to post a video addressing the documentary, before it even stated which comedian would be the subject.
Brand claimed in his video ‘So, This Is Happening’, that “as I have written about in my books, I was very very promiscuous… During that time of promiscuity, the relationships I had were absolutely always consensual” (Russell Brand, YouTube, September 2023).
One woman claimed that Brand raped her against a wall in his home in Los Angeles, and that, afterward, she went to a rape crisis centre. The Times claims there are documents to prove this (Russell Brand: In Plain Sight, Dispatches, September 2023).
Another claimed when she was 16, Brand, allegedly, would refer to her as “the child” (BBC News, September 2023).
Moreover, two more claims stated that Brand allegedly assaulted and threatened them against coming forward.
Brand’s mistreatment of women is well-documented, from his objectifying humor to his divorce from Katy Perry, in which he ended the 14-month marriage over text in 2011 (The Independent, September 2023).
Russell Band maintains that, he believes, the story is a “coordinated attack” on him made by mainstream media outlets (The Independent, September 2023). And, judging by the comments on the video he posted in his defense, many of Brand’s fans would agree with him.
Comments, such as these, show Brand still has the support of his fans:
“So, the people we don't trust are trying to take down the guy we trust. Yeah, that will really change our mind about Russell.”
“All but one off these accusers aren’t willing to stand on the hill with their real name for all to research and critique so this means nothing to me unless there’s facts and evidence.”
“So the accusers say these alleged assaults happened between 2006 & 2013 but they've waited until 2023 to report it? If you had your car stolen, would you wait ten years or more to report it or would you be straight on the phone to the police? That should tell you everything you need to know.”
As for the rest of the public, we await more evidence to follow.
Edited by: Anwen Venn
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