How Russell Brand amassed a legion of loyal ‘bewitched’ fans and ‘cultivated a following who distrust the media’ as he tapped into conspiracy theory platforms in the years before he faced sex assault allegations
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The sex scandal engulfing Russell Brand has seen many in his ‘cult’ of supporters on YouTube and Twitter dismiss the claims as the establishment trying to ‘destroy him’.
The comedian and actor has 11million followers on Twitter, 6.6million subscribers on YouTube, 4million fans on Instagram and a hugely popular podcast with a lucrative ‘Stay Free’ merchandise range.
Critics claim he has ‘set up a cult’ online to back him since the birth of the Me Too movement in 2017 by giving a platform to conspiracy theories including the idea that the pandemic, the Ukraine war and climate change distract from the activities of the global elite.
The comic has received support online from the likes of Andrew Tate and Elon Musk and his fans were out in force at a gig in Wembley on Saturday to show their backing.
Far-right radio host a Alex Jones, who owes $1.5billion in damages to the families of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, said: ‘The matrix is coming after Russell Brand, anybody that challenges the globalists, anybody that challenges Big Pharma, anybody that’s popular, that comes out against the establishment… is going to be accused of assaulting women. Now, because he comes out against the New World Order, suddenly the allegations are happening to him’.
One fan said after allegations he abused women said: ‘Somewhere along the way Russell Brand woke up and became a powerful dissenting voice who no longer served their agenda. No wonder they are desperate to destroy him’.
PR guru Mark Borkowski believes Brand has built a ‘cult following’ online who may be willing to back him despite the ‘horrendous’ accusations about his treatment of women.
Comedian Rosie Holt said: ‘I guess the lesson is kids, if sexual misconduct rumours have been swimming about you for ages, set up a cult on YouTube to support you when the allegations become public’. One American writer said: ‘Russell Brand has known this day was coming for him since October 2017. Since then, he’s strategically cultivated and groomed a new mentally-malleable cult following that distrusts both women and the media so he can continue getting high on his other drug of choice — the spotlight’.
The comedian has strenuously denied allegations that he raped, sexually assaulted and emotionally abused multiple women. Pictured: Brand in a video released on social media denying the claims before they were released
Russell Brand’s subscription and video views on YouTube have exploded since 2017
Fans insist that Brand is the victim of a conspiracy
Critics believe Brand’s online presence and choice of topics including conspiracy theories is a ploy
Another said: ‘I’m aware that you guys have been saying in the comments for a while, watch out, Russell. They’re coming for you. You’re getting too close to the truth.’ A third said: ‘I’ve never seen women throw themselves at anybody like him […] Nobody ever accused him of assault. Now, because he comes out against the New World Order, suddenly the allegations are happening to him.’ Then, for clarity: ‘I stand with Russell Brand, he’s completely innocent’.
The investigation by Channel 4, The Times and Sunday Times began four years ago. Around the same time he stepped back from much of his TV and movie work.
In that time his YouTube subscribers has gone from around 1million to 6million. His total video view could has gone from around 100million to over 1billion since 2019.
His net worth has been estimated between £15million and £40million – with YouTube experts claiming he makes $61,000-a-month from YouTube plus another $100k-a-month from merchandise and paid subscriptions to his podcast.
He lives with his wife Laura Gallacher in their £3million riverside home in Henley, Oxfordshire.
PR experts have said that this army of fans means that he will never be cancelled.
Mark Borkowski believes that the comedian, who has been accused of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse by multiple women, has declared war on the mainstream media.
He said: ‘The crimes he’s been accused of are horrendous, and are damaging for him and for people were looking after him at the time’.
The PR guru says some of his fanbase will stay intact thanks to the ‘unfettered unregulated world of social media’ – and raises serious questions for the BBC and Channel 4.
Mr Borkowski said that Brand has 11million followers on Twitter alone, 6.6million subscribers on YouTube and a hugely popular wellness podcast. These fans could choose to back him.
‘He [Brand] has an audience and lots and lots of people who are engaged in his content’.
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Russell Brand, pictured at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre on Saturday night, looks set to keep a large amount of his fanbase despite the allegations against him
He added that the comedian’s denial of the accusations was reminiscent of how Donald Trump deals with accusations of improper behaviour.
Mr Borkowski said: ‘I think there will be a profound amount of people who will stand by him. Normally with allegations like this your career would be over, but not in this case, which is interesting.
‘He’s a great content generator. He didn’t get to the top of his profession because he’s mediocre. He has the power to bewitch his audience.’
Brand, 48, was accused of attacking four women between 2006 and 2013 when he was working a presenter for BBC Radio 2 and Channel 4 and later as an actor in Hollywood. Other women have made a range of accusations about controlling, abusive and predatory behaviour.
Mr Borkowski said: ‘It throws up questions against someone who has been allowed a certain amount of power because of his talent and his meteoric rise.
‘It questions Russell Brand but also those in governance in TV. There will be a lot of people looking at themselves this morning – those people in power today won’t be the same ones in power that presided over this.’
Brand has since been dropped by a women’s charity he was working with, while TV production companies and channels have launched probes into his alleged behaviour.
Mr Borkowski added: ‘There’s a question whether he’s going to face police action, but the question at the moment is of social media – the man isn’t going to get a fair trial when the police have the evidence to prosecute him.
‘More people may come forward, other people might see an opportunity. It’s a very complex case, mixed between old media and social media’.
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