The Undearing Asshole thinks advertising their flaws makes them adorable instead of infuriating. They’re the romantic comedy dickhead who burns down some poor woman’s house then gets lucky because he erected a tent on the ashes. As the main character of his own movie he believes he can smirkingly shrug at his own shit, usually on your carpet, and get a laugh instead of a punch in the face. So let’s read Russell Brand telling The Times about his parenting.
He’s our first contestant in the BAD DAD OLYMPIAD and we might already have an eternal champion. He has two daughters, Mabel and Peggy, who were two years and six months old when he told an interviewer things that would normally be confessed to Child Services. He defines his parenting strategy:
“Yes, I’m very, very focused on the mystical connotations of Mabel’s beauty and grace. Not so good on the nappies and making sure that they eat food.”
He sat down and told The Times he was too incompetent to feed his own children. Not as a tearful breakdown in a post-relapse sympathy interview but as a smiley joke. A jolly old “Oh YOU know ME, leaving my starving children covered in their own filth!”
He uses his own children and their overflowing nappies to underline his own spirituality. Our very first entrant in the Bad Dad Olympiad sucks so hard he defines a new type of terrible. I award Russell Brand the first and foundational gold medal in DIAPERLESS DAD. If someone just refuses to change nappies their parenting strategy is literally telling their partner “YOU clean up this shit”.
Or, in his own actual “I’m talking to an interviewer who will report what I say to the world” words, he describes being a parent.
“When I looked after Mabel on her own, she dropped two social classes in an hour. In no time at all we’re in a coffee shop, she’s just got a nappy on, she’s covered in stuff because I’m not willing to fight any of the battles. I’m like, f*** it, it doesn’t matter whether she wears trousers, no, I suppose it doesn’t matter if she does that.”
Sorry he describes NOT being a parent. Not even a nanny. Barely a friends’ teenage child making sure they’re never forced to babysit ever again. In a battle of wills with an unfinished brain Russell Brand brags about losing.
Your attention might have been distracted from Russell Brand’s puddle-deep thoughts by the child screaming in a bag of their own filth, in which case congratulations on being a better parent to her than Russell Brand, but check out his exact words. “When I looked after Mabel on her own”. Special event. Singular. The way you might talk about The War, something that only happened once and you now bring up to get attention. Compare with:
“I’m very, very focused on the mystical connotations of Mabel’s beauty and grace”
Remember that’s the mystical grace of the starving naked child. There is a certain beauty to the hunt, true, but I don’t think feral infants chasing urban foxes for food, maybe to desperately re-invent fur as clothing, counts as modern beauty. But at this rate his kids will be lucky if they can count before they’re forty.
At this point The Times’ interviewer detects some slight flaws in Russell’s parenting, because by this point a cuckoo would be squirming and awkwardly checking under its wings to avoid eye contact. They ask how long Russell, in two years of parenting, has ever actually parented his own without their mother.
“That’s a good question, isn’t it? Well, OK. The two of them? Well, not long, not long.”
What a spectacular answer. But I say that as a comedy writer part of me diving into the rich seams in the overlap of “an asshole completely fucking up” and “the same asshole absolutely refusing to accept it at great length”. The parent part of me is yelling and sounds pretty angry.
“Um, I’ve done like, a night. But they’re asleep then.”
Congratulations Dr Brand on earning your PhD in The Most Desperate Answer. True, PhDs are usually earned by years of privation and struggle by the person actually earning it, not their children, but this occasion needs marking. In only ten words you’ve summarised more impressive failures to present positive evidence than the entire scientific search for dark matter. This is a rare case where “silent/y glowering at the interviewer” would have made someone seem more considerate and self-aware. “Fuck that” would have at least been honest. “I’ve only looked at them when they’re asleep” is not a reassuring answer. That’s never a reassuring answer! It’s the least reassuring answer possible without speaking through a human-skin mask!
Back to our interviewer:
Has he spent even 24 hours in sole charge of his children? He looks at me as if I must be mad.
“No. She wouldn’t go away for 24 hours, Laura. She respects and cares for their safety too much.
“My wife loves my children too much to leave me alone with them” isn’t a real human sentence, it’s a stress test to see if androids have developed empathy and refuse to repeat it.
“Laura’s able to sustain and maintain domesticity in a way that’s astonishing. I didn’t have much experience of how to organise domesticity. I do whatever I’m told.”
I DO WHATEVER I’M TOLD! is another Bad Dad Olympian feat of fucking up at fathering. (You can read more about that idea here). This dude declaims “domesticity” as a special skill he can’t learn because in the game of his life he didn’t pick the “woman” class. Painting your own uselessness as your wife’s special skill is a neutron star binary of sexism, a collapsed lump revolving around the light of your life while draining it of everything until something explodes. Russell Brand is now in the running for three separate events in the Bad Dad Olympiad and he invented two of them during the first.
Russell is the loser-ass “I’ve got so many amazing ideas for stories I can’t be bothered writing down any of the mere details”, except instead of books it’s his children.
He breaks off, looking worried. “I would hate for you to leave with the impression that I’m sort of sat watching television, peering over the armchair at what’s going on. I’m not. Yesterday, like, I drove Mabel to the playschool and I drop her at the playschool. But I’m sensitive and awake and aware, so I have to dial a lot of shit down to go through normal life.”
Holy crap Russell noticed someone unimpressed with his poor performance. Get his wife in here! She’s never seen this! You drove your own child to the playschool AND dropped her at the playschool? Instead of, what, hurling her out the window? “Giving your child to someone else to take care of for a while” isn’t something you can claim as two tasks. When the best thing you can think of to tell a doubting reporter is “I don’t hire bouncers to escort my own child out of my house for me” you might not be father of the year.
Seeing my expression, he adds: “I feel like I’m doing a f****** probation interview.”
BEHOLD the stinking signature of the Undearing Asshole, reacting to anything less than a standing ovation for subminimum effort as persecution.
PODIUM PLACEMENT: GOLD STAR
Russell Brand obviously gets a gold. Not a gold medal, but a gold star, a nice little participation sticker for heroically still bothering to live on the same planet while his wife looks after three helpless children: his two daughters and him.