So far, Brand’s podcast guests have likewise stayed loyal. In an industry rife with voices insisting they are about to be silenced, loudly saying the things they swear you can’t say anymore, Brand represents a rousing spectacle, Staying Free despite the designs of a sinister “they.” “The cancelers of the world seem with each passing week to become more and more crap at their jobs,” the writer Matt Taibbi said on Substack in October, promoting his interview with the “conspicuously still-breathing Russell Brand.”
Teasing an interview in November with Alex Jones of Infowars, who has described the assault allegations against Brand as a vast conspiracy, Brand suggested a kinship: “Have you noticed,” he said, raising two fingers for scare quotes, “how many of the wild Alex Jones ‘conspiracy theories’ have come to pass?”
More than anything else, Brand is testing a tantalizing kind of liberty before a group that reveres the word. He has hinted about a financial crunch since YouTube began blocking his profits, telling viewers on Rumble that he is “plainly in a position where your direct support is going to be incredibly valuable.” But if Brand’s strategy is successful — if he can subsist without the institutions that long sustained him, the collaborators who abandoned him, the former fans who might wince through his movie scenes now — there is a new kind of power in that freedom, and a new kind of freedom in that power.
“We’re planning a movement so that we can form new communities as the apocalypse apparently unfolds before our very eyes,” he told listeners on Oct. 26. “Without you, we are nothing.” The episode turned moments later to another aspiring movement leader: Vivek Ramaswamy, a returning guest and the first presidential candidate to appear with Brand after the allegations. Speaking from Iowa, midcampaign, Ramaswamy called for a “great uprising” against establishment forces. “It’s when they tell you to shut up that you have to actually grow the spine to be more vocal than ever,” Ramaswamy said.
“I can see why there would be an appetite to censor you,” Brand replied admiringly. The host thanked his guest for “elevating the caliber of the conversation” in his “stream of freedom.” He previewed future episode subjects: the Covid lab-leak theory, another chat with Jordan Peterson, “the necessity for radicalism in politics.” Then he made a promise.
“Next week,” Brand vowed, raising his open hands, “the revolution will grow a little stronger.”