Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Emperor's New Clothes: Russell Brand Politically Fervent But Feeble Fashion Statement

While the corporate media, with its own conflict of interest stake in the entrenched status quo, is always insistent that communism doesn't work whenever issues within that structure arise, the same accusation would never be leveled against capitalism. However much mass economic suffering and imperialist military carnage that system as an always assumed given, has generated at home and around the world.

And though UK actor-comedian Russell Brand displays noble intentions in fixing that broken entity with selective repairs in Michael Winterbottom's documentary The Emperor's New Clothes, those simplistic sentiments however subversive are, sorry to say, not noble enough. Fashion statements aside, those emperor's duds, literally and figuratively, need long overdue discarding - along with whatever conniving and repressive emperor happens to be parading in them. Or not.

Borrowing generously but substantially ineffectively from Michael Moore with a bit of Brecht tossed in too, Brand mostly limits his bandit capitalism critique to a single diluted reformist issue - corporate and billionaire tax evasion. And tracing the economic dilemma back a mere seven decades to what he terms as the decisive scourge - free market fundamentalism. Which essentially lets off the hook any oligarchs exploiting and massacring the masses for centuries - and all the related misery, persecutions and assassinations in its wake into the present time.

What does come to light incidentally at one point, is Brand admitting though quickly brushing this particular personal detail aside, that he himself is a member of the one percent. And actually, along with director Winterbottom, no stranger to feeding at the lucrative trough of Hollywood.

So what remains of this ideological deviation, is a hunch that what both Brand and Winterbottom are after is a call to fellow one percenters to pay their fair share of taxes as they themselves do - rather than hiding billions in offshore accounts around the planet. And that somehow the disclosed money will trickle back into the system to provide for the poor.

Reality check alert: This proposal sidesteps that other invisible entity along with those regal garments in question - the elephant in the room known as lobbyists. The ones who ultimately control those pseudo-democratic capitalist governments through bribery, no matter who the masses vote for. And who will always protect the robber barons and their riches, no matter what arrangements have been made for hoarding their wealth.

So what remains in The Emperor's New Clothes, aside from Brand as anti-corporate court jester performing nonstop for an annoying nearly two hour stretch - an occasional mildly amusing agitprop moment like the masked billionaire fun bus aside - is essentially nothing new about that monarch makeover. And unlike most such traditional fairy tales, with conclusively no prospective happy ending in sight.

The Emperor's New Clothes is screening at the Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place through April 26th throughout Manhattan. The Festival will highlight hundreds of feature films, documentaries, shorts and special events. More information is online at

Prairie Miller

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