Labeling the usually coveted GQ Award show as nothing but an “absurd… corporate ritual”, Russell Brand was allegedly removed from the show’s afterparty for associating GQ sponsor, Hugo Boss, with Nazi Germany in his acceptance speech.
In order to address the controversy, Brand told his side of the story which The Guardian published yesterday. He spoke about how he felt uncomfortable at the event in the first place, calling it nothing more than “fabricated fun”.
Reflecting back on his controversial speech, Brand claimed “I could see the room dividing as I spoke. I could hear the laughter of some and louder still silence of others.”
He continued, “I realised that for some people this was regarded as an event with import. The magazine, the sponsors and some of those in attendance saw it as a kind of ceremony that warranted respect. In effect it is a corporate ritual, an alliance between a media organisation, GQ and a commercial entity, Hugo Boss.
"What dawned on me,” the comedian revealed, “as the night went on, is that even in apparently frivolous conditions the establishment asserts control and won’t tolerate having that assertion challenged, even flippantly, by that most beautifully adept tool, comedy.
“The jokes about Hugo Boss were not intended to herald a campaign to destroy them, they’re not Monsanto or Halliburton, the contemporary corporate allies of modern-day fascism; they are, I thought, an irrelevant menswear supplier with a double-dodgy history. The evening, though, provided an interesting opportunity to see how power structures preserve their agenda, even in a chintzy microcosm.”
According to Brand, the glamorous evening “took a peculiar turn” when Charles Moore, the former editor of the Daily Telegraph, decided to bring up the controversial answerphone messages Brand sent to Andrew Sachs via radio several years ago. Moore highlighted Brand’s acceptance speech as ironic given “the Sachs family’s flight 70 years earlier from Nazi-occupied Europe”.
According to Brand, “[the remark] was a confusing tapestry that Moore spun but he seemed to be saying that a) the calls were as bad as the Holocaust and b) the Sachs family may not’ve sought refuge in Britain had they known what awaited them.
“Even for a man whose former job was editing the Telegraph this is an extraordinary way to manipulate information.”
Brand later went on to blast foreign secretary William Hague and London mayor Boris Johnson for attending the GQ event, querying why public officials should ever wish to be photographed at a ceremony celebrating a fashion magazine.
“The reason I was there was because I have a tour on and I was advised it would be good publicity. What are the politicians selling? How are they managing our perception of them with their attendance of these sequin-encrusted corporate balls? We witness that there is a relationship between government, media and industry that is evident even at this most spurious and superficial level. These three institutions support one another.”
Brand made sure to refute any accusations that he might be presenting himself as a kind of “estuary Che Guevara”, but noted that the event made him feel concerned about the obvious relationship between government, media and industry.
“[My Nazi comment] was a daft joke, by a daft comic at a daft event. [The reaction] makes me wonder though how the relationships and power dynamics I witnessed on this relatively inconsequential context are replicated on a more significant scale.”
Brand wasn’t the only one who noticed the bizarre political attendance at the event. Noel Gallagher also came out in criticism of the ceremony, claiming that it felt like “the Tory party conference”.