July 06, 2014

Soon, Everyone Will Be A Star Of Their Own TV Show



I really, really like Russell Brand. He has a voice that is distinctly unique, brave, intelligent; yet he gets a lot of stick along with it. Viewers often flick their hand dismissively at him, because he’s a bit “quirky” or “whimsical”; in general a bit “away with the fairies.” People like kooky things when its fictional, let’s say the Harry Potter glossary of Hippogriffs and Crookshanks, but in real life, no one likes it as much. People, in general, think he’s a bit OTT.  Jeremy Paxon interviewed him and to paraphrase, called him a  thinker, not a doer. “Who are you to edit a political magazine?” he asked, after guest-editing the New Statesman and admitting he doesn’t vote. When Paxman asks him what alternative systems he uses, Brand responds “I haven’t invented it Jeremy. I had to do magazine last week. I’ve had a lot on me plate”.

I love that. He doesn’t agree with the current system so he jokes about inventing a new one. We need more people to want to invent new things. Solutions. Ideas. Suggestions. I think he’s a refreshing voice. He’s bloody clever, and he’s not afraid to put himself out there. I think we need people like Brand, to not necessary always be right about stuff, but to have the courage to shake things up a bit. Everything is often so DRY. He adds a cheekiness, a little capsule of facetiousness. He’s not always going to have the answers (who does?) but he disrupts our natural, dull thought-processes – he makes us think “ha! GOOD POINT! I DIDN’T THINK OF THAT.” As well as making us scratch our heads a little, having to process his crazy long-sentences in smaller digestible chunks. Or at least sheepishly look up a few words in the Dictionary first. 

I went to see him on his tour in Cardiff quite a few years back (just after the Andrew Sachs thing, #SachsGate). We all know he got in a lot of trouble. He had to wear sunglasses like a proper Disney villain and avoid the paparazzi. His tour “Scandalous” was fantastic. All eyes were on him. The critics smugly thought: how on earth is this man going to “get back on that horse” after the humiliation of being kicked off the BBC in broad daylight? He did what he did best: he took the piss out of the news. Turned it into the genius comedy show.

Unscripted, he would read out the newspapers, off the cuff, only slightly prepared. He played the montage of him and Jonathan Ross coming out of important buildings wearing sunnies with the cameras going wild. He would dance to the sound of The 10’Clock News and sing “I am the news! I am the news!” He used it in his favour to read out some comments he received under  certain news articles. People dramatically compared him to the devil, to terrorist leaders, saying he should go “and fight in a war”. For singing a tasteless song? For singing a stupid stupid song? He made it all seem a bit nuts. He wondered why, with all the other bullshit going on in the world, HE was the news instead.

So his video series “The Trews” is actually proving rather entertaining. He is now “doin’ YouTube”. He’s making little video series and calling out the WTF moments in the news – whilst he watches it on TV. It’s all a bit meta really. Screen, upon screen, upon screen. Russell Brand is Goggleboxing himself. What’s not to love about that?

I think this is the future. Well, it’s already happening. We are recording every aspect of lives. But soon I think we are all going to grow into being the centre of our own reality TV shows, inside our own homes. You only have to take one good look at the new booming YouTube Industry that takes on reality TV stars that don’t have a production company, just a tinny camera in their bedrooms.  

And we will continue sharing. Not just glimpses of our lives through Instagram, but more deeply: our attitudes, opinions, thoughts, feelings. We are in Generation HonestyLand (just made that up) but you know what I mean. We are over-sharing. Over over-sharing. 

Freakishly, as reported in I-D magazine recently, this concept of having a “personal soap opera” is not a new one. In 1987 a man called J.G.Ballard predicted that this would come into play, this obsession between human spirit and technology, and it’s sort of spooky how right he was:

“Every home will be transformed into its own TV studio. We’ll all be simultaneously actor, director and screenwriter in our own soap opera. People will start screening themselves. They will become their own TV programmes.” J.G. Ballard, 1987 

I don’t know about you. But I’m keeping my eyes peeled on this. Honesty really is the way forward, the more we share what we really want, really like, really think; the more we can avoid any nasty surprises by big corporations and get some power back into our own hands, aka, the everyday person.

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