By Malak Habbak
The media polarizes its content ” white or black, liberal or conservative ” which clouds journalism and compromises peace and cooperation for sensationalism. But the clouds have a silver lining: the story behind “The Trews,” a YouTube web series, has passion and purpose. Its creator, actor and comedian Russell Brand, has an agenda for peace.
In the first episode of “The Trews,” published in February, Brand begins his diagnosis: If you break down people’s humanity and their sense of togetherness and love for one another, they become easily manipulated. Since then, Brand has released around 180 episodes.
In the past month, topics have spanned a variety of issues, including climate change, democracy in Hong Kong, Ebola, Obama’s Nobel Peace prize, immigration and minimum wage.
In the episode “Does Fox News Want Us To Be Racist?”, Brand runs a clip where Bill O’Reilly stood against “Liberal America” for welcoming refugees. No matter what your stance on immigration is, there are universal truths Brand points out that are judgmental in O’Reilly’s spiel. As the Fox News clips drag on and the bigotry intensifies, Brand incorporates his well-developed talent of comedy.
But even through comedy, Brand maintains humanity and shows that he is a decent human being. When faced with the opposition, Brand revealed his true colors.
“Our reponse to [duplicity and intolerance] should be motivated by compassion and empathy regardless, because then we will reach a solution that is on the frequency of compassion and empathy not of judgment and xenophobia,” he says.
In an interview with The Guardian, Brand says he went from “I want to be a movie star” to thinking, “God, that will never be enough. I have to use this influence to talk about important issues that affect people.”
Unlike comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Brand epitomizes the common man because his passion for politics is not something acquired through academia or influence, but through growing up in a single-parent family, being on the dole, and being a recovering drug addict.
“I had to become someone who isn’t a drug addict anymore,” said Brand. “I had to change my beliefs. Then I had to stop being a person who was enamoured of the glistening spectacle. If you’re motivated by sufficient pain, you will change. We’re approaching a point where a significant number of people want to change.”
BBC spokesperson Evan Davis said, “Love him or loathe him, Russell Brand has been one of the most eloquent voices articulating the anti-politics mood that all British politicians are currently struggling to engage with.”
Along with his web series, Brand has published a book called “Revolution.” He told The Guardian and USA Today that the proceeds will be donated to community establishment projects. Such projects include a place for people to hang out, a service for people with drug addictions, or non-profit, social enterprises. His activism shows a commitment to the cause he said he’s prepared to die for.
Many actors besides Brand have made political statements, including director Michael Moore and actress Anne Hathaway, who have both shown support for the Occupy Wall Street movement. But some say it’s all hypocritical for celebrities to preach equality when they have millions.
“Give me a chance to grow,” Brand said. “I’ll continue to improve.”
Isn’t that what we all want? A chance to do and not be judged?
Society sorts people off into labels based on political affiliation, wealth, race, religion, status, and more, feeding into a system that encourages polarization. Labels only tear us apart.
Empathy, however, is a beautiful word that entails walking in other people’s shoes; it knows no labels. Therefore, we must embrace a new dogma and identify as humanitarians.
Sungah Choi /The Poly Post
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