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Oct. 29th, 2008

This whole Brand/Ross thing has become a monster. It’s a silly season story that has accidentally emerged blinking into the news rush hour. I was going to post yesterday about it, but events ran away from me and suddenly Ofcom was investigating and Gordon Brown was somehow involved. It tickles me that he chose to use the two most hackneyed political terms for expressing disapproval, “inappropriate” and “unacceptable”. Politicians use these words for every damn thing, from genocide to the canteen not carrying their favourite kind of jam. But what’s he doing commenting on this in the first place? What’s next, a furious condemnation from Ban Ki-Moon? An air strike?

The simple truth, though, is that both Ross and Brand are bullies. Both men’s schtick involves a lot of self-deprecation, but it pays not to be charmed or fooled by that—their self-loathing is all too real, and they’re keen to palm it off on to others. Literally, in the case of a friend of mine who, a long time ago, was introduced to Ross as a junior writer. They shook hands in a crowded room, only for Ross to leap back and start yelling, “Ugh! Sweaty palms! He’s got the sweatiest palms! Is that even sweat? Ugh!”[1] And so on. Territory established. New bug successfully squashed. It’s a fleeting incident, but a revealing one.

Also revealing is my friend’s experience of writing many years ago for a BBC DJ whose show went out live after midnight. The procedure was that the show would be listened through afterwards to check the content. Some of the material was a bit cheeky, but it could take weeks before they got an irritated memo saying, “For God’s sake stop making those jokes”. They rapidly realised that there was a huge backlog of shows to be checked, and they made the most of it. So it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if the Brand show, though pre-recorded, had not been listened to by the time of broadcast for similar reasons. If it was and it was cleared, someone’s definitely for the chop.

But should that include our Russ and our Jon? Of course it should. Never mind nebulous questions of standards of taste or decency in broadcasting; the abusive messages they left on Andrew Sachs’s answerphone actually broke the law. Also, though Ross saw which way this was all headed at the end of last week so apologised to Sachs in writing and sent him flowers (while Brand did not), it’s noticeable that neither man has said anything contrite about Sachs’s granddaughter, the person who has been most badly treated in all this. She’s just the latest in a string of girls who have somehow been seduced by a diamond-cut jaw, a gallon of hairspray and Frankie Howerd’s vocal mannerisms, and have utterly failed to see the truth that is staring them full in the face: don’t fuck Russell Brand.

At best, you could end up as material in one of his trademark too-much-information routines about embarrassing sexual experiences. (Also, does he carry on with that “Hare Krishna” stuff even in intimate situations? Oh God.) Or he might pull a stunt like this and drag your family into it. It would be even worse, although obviously I’m not remotely suggesting that this could possibly have anything to do with him, if someone were—how to code this somehow?—to repeatedly not have sex with, and then be humiliated by, overage boys. Lucky, then, that he has no reputation for doing any such thing.

I was slightly annoyed to discover that the Telegraph (that’s not more code, just the newspaper) had come up with this connection first, but at least they’ve saved me the bother of writing something along these lines myself:
The behaviour of the Bullingdon Club in George Osborne's day was repulsive: arrogant young men, with more money than sense and no one to tell them what to do. They booked strippers, treated women like dirt, and their idea of a good time was an evening of nasty, bullying humiliation. Osborne was held upside down and banged on his head until he obligingly repeated an obscenity about himself. The stories have all the trappings of toffs enjoying themselves.

Yet look at the BBC radio studio last week: young men together, even more money than sense, lots of people around but not one who dared to stand up to them, whose idea of a radio programme was ringing up a 78-year-old and indulging in sexual boasting and nasty, bullying humiliation. Neither Jonathan Ross nor Russell Brand were members of the Bullingdon, but they do share the same sense of mischievous fun. The only difference is, the blades of the Bullingdon paid for it with their own money; Ross and Brand do it with ours. [Telegraph]
Now, I don’t think they should be sacked out of any indignation about the licence fee; I’ll leave that to the Telegraph and the Mail. I think they should be sacked because they have acted like unconscionable cowards and bullies to a man who has more dignity and decency than the pair of them. They’ve been a couple of spiteful bastards and have broken the law into the bargain, and they need to know that that’s not OK just because we’ve all heard of them.

[1] Note for any younger readers: “Ugh” is what the British used to say in the days before “Eww”. Also, everything used to be in black and white.

Comments

( 61 comments — Leave a comment )
rhodri
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
OK, they get sacked. Because of the way their contracts are constructed, they're given one almighty pay-off. A bidding war begins to seduce them to another channel / network. They end up with even more cash. Sacking them is no punishment at all, is it. Just a fairly empty gesture that will appear as if the BBC have been bullied into it by Tories, the right-wing press and the usual plethora of vacuous twots on HYS and the like.

Brand's a twat, and clearly doesn't give a shit. Ross is less of a twat, considerably more entertaining (IMHO) and at this point, I would guess, is feeling pretty sheepish. His chat-show on Friday will be pretty interesting to watch. I reckon that he'll be as contrite as it's possible to be.

I still think the blame lies utterly with the producers of the programme, for failing to rein in the worst excesses of presenters who, after all, have a reputation for being a bit dickish. And not only that, then editing and broadcasting the bloody thing.

Edited at 2008-10-29 11:11 am (UTC)
webofevil
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:25 am (UTC)
I entirely agree about the other people who are culpable, but I still feel that it should be possible somehow to sanction behaviour that's beyond the pale. If not sacking, for the reasons you cite above, then how about a pay cut? Or is there literally nothing that would make these men less attractive to rival broadcasters, short of ruining their pretty faces? For my money Ross is great on "Film 20xx" but his chat show utterly honks, and I can think of nothing more fitting than that he and Brand both one day end up next to Richard and Judy out in the far reaches of UKTV.
(no subject) - rhodri - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - webofevil - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rhodri - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - webofevil - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rhodri - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
chiller
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
I'm not wildly enraged about The Incident (mostly because I'm fairly sure that Sachs is over it and the young Mz Sachs now seems to be using it to boost her career - and why not?). But the bullying thing is interesting. It really does seem there's a subset of men - into which fall Ross and Brand - who, in the absence of someone to MAKE them behave decently, just don't understand what "decent" is, or why it is important to include it in your diet.

I don't see any significant difference between the Bullingdon escapades and gang behaviour in inner cities (they even have colours), save the setting, and the fact that babyfather would prob'ly come down on one like a ton of bricks if one stabbed a chap at Eton.
rhodri
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:15 am (UTC)
It really does seem there's a subset of men - into which fall Ross and Brand - who, in the absence of someone to MAKE them behave decently, just don't understand what "decent" is

If you're surrounded by people telling you how great you are all the time, and you have a pay packet to match, I can imagine it's pretty easy to slip into that mindset. It's like the badly-behaved rockstar thing. It's just no big deal. Sachs accepted the apology, and has said that he's not looking for heads to roll. And that should be that - except his granddaughter is now plastered over the tabloids saying that she thinks heads SHOULD roll, and every anti-BBC crusader is using it as ammunition. Vile. Hate it.
(no subject) - jimyojimbo - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - addedentry - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chiller - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rhodri - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:53 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chiller - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_magician - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chiller - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - webofevil - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - uitlander - Oct. 29th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
amuchmoreexotic
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:21 am (UTC)
Do we know that Brand had actually shagged the granddaughter?
pageantmalarkey
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:24 am (UTC)
Yes, she admitted in The Sun.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7694989.stm

Complaints reached 18,000 this morning.
(no subject) - amuchmoreexotic - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - webofevil - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amuchmoreexotic - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rhodri - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - webofevil - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nudejournal - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rhodri - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amuchmoreexotic - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - webofevil - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amuchmoreexotic - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - webofevil - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amuchmoreexotic - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - webofevil - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amuchmoreexotic - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chiller - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amuchmoreexotic - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rhodri - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nudejournal - Oct. 29th, 2008 01:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
pageantmalarkey
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
Hear, hear.*

*Which was what people used to say in the days before "Right on!" and "You go, girl."
webofevil
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:26 am (UTC)
Sadly these have yet to replace the phrase in Parliament. I await the day with mixed feelings.
(no subject) - pageantmalarkey - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rhodri - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pageantmalarkey - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:45 am (UTC) - Expand
ultraruby
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:31 am (UTC)
~applause~

This is the best comment on this story that I've read anywhere.
j4
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:46 am (UTC)
Seconded!
(Deleted comment)
nudejournal
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:34 am (UTC)
I did wonder when listening to go it out whether the producer would just cut the phone link after Sach's outgoing message. It would have been amusing if the tabloid outrage had broken out and they had to admit that they didn't actually make any phone calls in the first place. Everyone would be even more confused about what they're supposed to be angry about.
nudejournal
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
Actually, do we know that this isn't the case?

"She and Sachs listen to an online recording of the show which leaves the actor "offended very much indeed"." from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7694989.stm is odd, wouldn't he have checked his messages by then?
(no subject) - webofevil - Oct. 29th, 2008 11:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nudejournal - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
i_jobot
Oct. 29th, 2008 11:35 am (UTC)
That was a really good post! I totally agree.
rhodri
Oct. 29th, 2008 12:10 pm (UTC)
webofevil
Oct. 29th, 2008 12:13 pm (UTC)
Ha ha ha ha!

Russia invades Ukraine, cites Brand/Ross prank call as reason
(no subject) - srk1 - Oct. 29th, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strictlytrue - Oct. 29th, 2008 01:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
trashmcstate
Oct. 29th, 2008 12:10 pm (UTC)

Georgina Baillie said her grandfather was "really upset and says he wants the whole situation to end".

Maybe she should stop dragging it up in the tabloids then.
trashmcstate
Oct. 29th, 2008 12:13 pm (UTC)
"They must be the only people on earth sick enough to think that breaking into an old man's house and sexually abusing him might be funny," she said in the Sun interview.

Not entirely sure that's an accurate assesment of the events that unfolded.
(no subject) - rhodri - Oct. 29th, 2008 12:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lowlowprices - Oct. 29th, 2008 01:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rhodri - Oct. 29th, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 61 comments — Leave a comment )

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