Who is Russell Brand ? He’s a very funny, 46 year old comedian, who sometimes plays a spiritual guru role, and has a YouTube channel with 5.5 million subscribers. Yes, 5.5 million. That’s not that many compared to the 213 million subscribers to an Indian music video channel called T-series, but it’s a lot. And he doesn’t just have subscribers, he gets actual views, a lot more than T-series.
Brand used to be an actor in funny movies, and a drug addict, but he seems to be leading a completely different life now. He was briefly married to Katy Perry. He’s now remarried to Laura Brand and has two young children. He had a difficult childhood that included divorced parents, his mom having cancer, sexual abuse by a tutor, and a strange and limited relationship with his dad who took him to get prostitutes in Thailand. He began using drugs in his teen years and calls himself a recovering drug and sex addict.
I enjoy Brand’s videos. He’s funny, smart, and cares about people. But he’s not a Christian, although I keep hoping and praying for him. But still, I like listening to him talk and interview people .
Brand does two types of shows on YouTube. One is done podcast style with serious interviews with famous people, such as Candace Owens, Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Ricky Gervais and various experts. The interviews are also put out as podcasts on his subscription channel called Under The Skin . So what you see on YouTube is not always the entire interview. The other is a hilarious, but intelligent, analysis of what’s happening in the news based commentary on various articles.
I watched an interview with him and Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator. I’ve never watched Shapiro before , but I knew he had a reputation as being argumentative or something.
This video is titled Respectfully Disagreeing so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It started off with them being super polite and it stayed very respectful, at least for that video . The other half is only available on the podcast on the Luminary app or Apple podcast app and I haven’t had a chance to listen.
This video has had 5,599,347 views so far in nine months. They discuss Shapiro’s religious beliefs, Jewish, and his family’s way of observing the Sabbath. Brand is spiritual, but not Christian and is somewhat anti-religion, so he had good questions about how Shapiro’s faith actually affects his life. They commiserate with how children ask tough questions about life and they both want to be honest and helpful in their answers.
Then they started talking politics and economics and it got really interesting. Shapiro considers himself mostly a libertarian in his personal life and just ‘wants to be left alone’, but he is definitely a free market capitalist.
In the following clip you can watch part of the conversation. You can watch the whole thing in the video above by starting around 45:00 or so. I found it fascinating to watch Brand struggling with his ideals versus reality, while Shapiro was able to articulate clearly the way life really works.
https://youtube.com/clip/Ugkxdjs8NKMq96JeB7gl90EGLBSBUTHK21Yg Not sure why it won’t show the video, just click the link.
My thoughts are that Brand is still learning and eventually he will come to the realization that we will never have that Sesame Street world of love and harmony that he describes, and he will move on to trying to build his own life in his family and community. As you can see in the trailer on is other channel Awakening with Russell that focuses on meditation and other things, which I haven’t watched, he is into all kinds of non-traditional, spiritual stuff. I consider him a seeker and I do not go to him for wisdom. I watch him because he is entertaining, just like most people, but also because I am interested in cultural trends from an academic perspective.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8
Although, I definitely disagree with his spiritual beliefs, I can relate to what he said in the clip above since I used to have the same unrealistic expectations about the world and wish I could save it and we could all live together happily in peace. Now I understand that will never happen until Jesus returns. But I worry that some people watching his videos are still living under this delusion and will put him up on a pedestal as some sort of wise man, even though he is not quite there. Unless he starts looking at the world from a Christian worldview, he will never be truly wise. He needs to stop being ‘spiritual’ and accept Jesus. In fact, the more I read about him, the more concerned I am.
Let me know what you think in the comments.