My meeting with Mo by Russell Brand*
A hot chick asked me to write this, so how could I say no?
The other day I filmed another episode of my revolutionary Youtube show “The Trews”, in which I and sometimes a guest I’ve judiciously plucked from my Twitter feed like a flower in the morning sun dissect and lampoon the contempary “news”-papers we have had thrust upon us by a ruthless corporate machine hell-bent on the destruction of everything good in this world to faciltate free thinking and shine a light on their guttersnipery with my gleaming teeth, perfect cheekbones and vocabulary harvested from that long weekend in 2008 when I ingested five Es and a thesaurus.
For this “webisode”, which brings to mind the idea that this web we so often talk of thoughtlessly is nothing but a ploy to trap us like innocent spiders falling headlong into the gluelike clutches of the spidery digital world – a thought I suspect nobody else has had – I was meeting Mohammed Ansar.
I don’t really know Mo, but he has a lot of Twitter followers, seems an alright geezer and anyway kept pestering me to tell me all about Islam and that. Obviously, in hindsight, now I’ve had fourteen coffees and read a bit of the old Chomsky to wake me up, I realise five minutes on Google would have explicated that Mo had already been repeatedly exposed as a vicious charlatan desperate for a spot in the limelight and perhaps a reality show with me, but alas and alarks I rarely use Google as it’s meshed and aligned with sinister elements of our hierarchical and archaic ipso facto status quo “government”. Also, Mo had been on telly.
In fact, I remembered he had even been on Newsnight, as I (rather preposterously) had. It was the one where he had a huge go at that other Muslim bloke who had tweeted that he wasn’t offended by a totally inoffensive cartoon that Mo said he also didn’t find offensive, but which he felt he would condemn anyway for some reason I couldn’t fathom or comprehend at the time but which, having used Bing just now, is clear was a sociopathic attempt to exact revenge for the time the other geezer had made it translucently obvious that Mo couldn’t even condemn stoning people to death. Mo gave it such welly in fanning those flickering flames that the other bloke, Maajid Nawaz, is now living under death threats, as are his family in Pakistan.
Ah well. I didn’t know all that, and neither did Newsnight or anyone else, other than from the seventeen exposés that had already been published when I agreed to meet him, and Mo was good value, explaining to me in stirring but empty platitudes how the world’s problems could be solved by everyone being sweet and gentle to each other and presumably not fuelling death threats against people who tweet cartoons and respected historians or calling the rozzers on people for calling him a prick and pretending they were being Islamophobic.
It was weird at the start, though, when I asked him what he actually did and he acted perplexed at such a simple and direct question. With the benefit of everyone telling me what I should already have known about him, I’ve tried to imagine what was going through his mind in that momentary instant of trepidatious hesitation. Should he risk claiming to my mug he was the ‘educationalist’, legal advocate, activist, visiting lecturer and theologian he had claimed to so many others before or would it just be a step too far even for him at this stage of his floundering pose? And if he were to claim that, the list of unsubstantiated self-awarded positions was so long he might in reciting them forget the show’s little theme ditty that he had practised so assiduously in front of the bathroom mirror in the hope of singing it with me at the end. So he decided instead to answer me, humble as pie, that he simply ‘served the community’.
Obviously, after that he banged on and on and we had to cut him to ribbons because he was spouting conspiracy theories too barmy even for me (and I’ve been on Infowars), and for someone so engrossed in the semiotics of iconography it’s a peculiar but perhaps enlightening inconsistency that I didn’t observe his own appropriation of stereotypical Islamic dress to gull the unsuspecting into thinking he’s a wise and holy man.
But give me a fracture, guv. I’m just a comedian, not a news organisation. I’m just excoriating journalists for not doing what I should have executed, and am not part of the media myself. I have no impact whatsoever with my regular web show that has 165,000 subscribers and my Twitter following of 7.8 million people. It’s not like I have any impact or can make any difference or do any damage with my own careless research. And in its own bizarre way, I don’t regret meeting Mo and giving him a much-needed boost of legitimacy to fool yet more people, because media studies dissertations will be analysing and digging into this clip for years to come to appreciate the inherent ironies in a celebrity haranguing newspapers for their undoubted flaws while applying none of their occasional but undoubtedly evidential rigour and thereby creating a new form of even shallower media that can be consumed and believed by people with ten minutes to spare and excuse them from reading the papers themselves.
So in a way, just like Mo, I’ve also served the community.
*Me. Inspired by this tweet of Suzanne Moore’s.