Well, we think the world and their dog saw the shocking but not surprising Chanel 4 Dispatches doc aired on Saturday 16th September outlining the sexual abuse and abuse of women by the ‘so called’ comedian Russell Brand. This came after a year of investigation by the Dispatches team. Brand’s abuse and mistreatment of women being almost an open secret for a number of years.
Brand, for many of us of a certain generation, represented that cool Soho aesthetic that included Amy Winehouse, Alexa Chung, Kate Moss, Russell Kane, Nick Grimshaw and the like throughout the 00’s/2010’s.
It was a type of look that many friends copied, many female friends dreamed of going to be around him, and unfortunately many men behaved like him.
A few male colleagues in the environment I worked in before I went off to Uni thought he was the bee’s knees and imitating him including parroting his misogynistic jokes - they just thought that was the way to behave, they thought it was funny because hey well he was getting away with it, why shouldn’t we?
The Sun gave him the title of ‘Shagger of the Year’ three times, the last being in 2012! (Can we ask why that is even a thing please?!)
We just never questioned it, this might have been in terms of the ‘culture’ at that time, little education or that we were just so young we didn’t have the voice to question it and took these behaviours as cool and the ‘status quo’. The patriarchy and misogyny really did rule in the 00’s/2010’s and went unquestioned by many in control.
However like so many predators he was hiding in very plain sight. His abuse dotted through his comedy, the way he spoke and the way he behaved whilst out and about in the general public. This included his BBC Radio 6 & 2 programmes which ran from 2006 to 2008. I’m sure many of you will remember the infamous incident with Jonathan Ross and their prank phone call which was completely outrageous. Channel 4 had him as the host of Big Brother’s little brother for such a long time that he became part of the furniture. This gave him a large platform to perpetrate his abuse towards women.
His alleged assaults happened between 2006 and 2013 whilst he was working on the BBC and Channel 4. Many, many employees complained about his behaviour but he was quite clearly earning the big whigs far too much money for him to be a complete problem. This is very evident when he went to America and was taken in by that ‘Hollywood Set’.
The survivors of this abuse have never been able to have their voices heard and that is unforgivable. They haven’t even been able to go to the police. Lets not forget his youngest victim was a 16 year old. Why was she not protected?
This is the problem we now have. This goes beyond Brand. Yes he needs to be held accountable for his actions and behaviours but yet again we have the BBC covering up another abuser, channel 4 giving him a voice countless times and so many film executives portraying him in a certain light, almost typecast - this abuse and his protectors cuts intersectionality across all levels of the entertainment industry. We have his employees not being able to stand up to him and we have his agents and the production companies pandering to his every whim. Where is their accountability? Why weren't the complaints put to the production teams, Programme controllers and executives taken seriously at the time?
I guess education, accountability and proper robust complaints policies need to be put into place and to nip behaviours in the bud before they are allowed to flourish, earn money and hurt women. Especially now in 2023 when we have had so many lessons learnt from many, many predators within the celebrity world. We have to question why it is still being covered up and so many predators given a voice while survivors have to suffer in silence, perhaps feeling embarrassed and ridiculed at even a whiff of a scandal. Why is money played higher than wellbeing and safety for women?
If you have felt affected by the documentary and would like to talk about it, our door here at Collaborative Women is open. Please do not suffer in silence.
Lots of Love
Georgia: Collaborative Women Team.