In 2011 the world watched while thousands of people rioted in London and other parts of England. It is still discussed why these riots took place, and comedian Russell Brand gives his take on the reasons behind the apparently meaningless violence and destruction in the commentary “Big Brother isn’t watching you”.
While some argue that the riots were mindless Brand searches for the deeper meaning behind. He concludes that they were caused by a combination of an increasing focus on consumerism and the economic consequences of the financial crisis.
We are used to hear the phrase “Big Brother is watching you” in relation to CCTV and the modern surveillance society. Most may also know the TV program inspired by it, simply called Big Brother, and this is where Russell Brand begins his theory. As host in the show he was confronted with a violent incident in the house, and off-air he quoted a British first-world-war general:
“You cannot rouse the animal in man then expect it to be put aside at a moment’s notice.” (p. 8, l. 19-20)
The Incident was, however, edited and Brand was told to be discreet about it.
He relates his experience in Big Brother to the riots in London by indirectly comparing the contestants to the economically and socially challenged people suffering from the financial crisis. If society constantly reminds you that your happiness is defined by what you own, then how are you going to make it through life without a job or a possibility to get one?
For some the answer is, sadly, stealing and making trouble, and Russell Brand sees the riots as the culmination of many people’s discontent with the government, or “Big Brother”. He is not defending the many acts of violence, or in some cases murder, but he is trying to get through to both those responsible and the rest of the British society. His message in the end of the commentary is clear: if these young people should adapt to the rules of society, they have to feel like they are...