I was delighted this morning to learn that Russell Brand won the British Comedy Award for Best Live Act last night, and dedicated the award to Jonathan Ross. Ross was supposed to have been presenting the show but because of the absurd brouhaha in the British media about the silly calls Brand and Ross made to Andrew Sachs on Russell's now-defunct radio show, he's still not allowed in front of a camera (and when he comes back they'll be expecting him to show appropriate contrition, you can bet, like a drunk driver who accidently mowed down a family of cute blonde-haired infant picnickers).
This story broke before my own little spot of trouble with my employer in re: a careless joke on Facebook, but even before I was suspended I couldn't understand what the fuss was about. We seem so keen in this country to find someone we can all bunch together and vilify (life hasn't been the same in Old Blighty since witches all married I.T. consultants and opened expensive trinket shops). And we are very easily led into these moral panics by the hypocritical self-serving scum of the tabloid press, too. Do you really think the editor of the SUN newspaper gives a shit about "Baby P"? Of course not. But he knows you'll buy his papers if he pretends to, and gives you names and photographs of left-wing (and preferably, be honest, black) social workers you can fulminate against.
I'm not a big fan of Jonathan Ross, but I think Russell Brand is a genius. The calls to Andrew Sachs may have been a bit peurile--I don't know, I've only heard one of them--but in order to create great work an artist has to take risks. Sometimes it's not going to work. Or it won't work quite as well. No artist who's done anything worth a damn has ever been consistently brilliant.
Oh, and you have to wonder, do all the people phoning in to radio stations this morning to complain about Brand's award not have anything better to worry about? How about all the people dying in Zimbabwe? How about all the political prisoners in China and Tibet? The arts are central to my life but next to those other issues the eccentric perorations of a louche English comedian don't really seem that important.
2009 will be the year Hunter Thompson's prediction of the Death of Fun came true, if we're not really bloody careful.