Russell Brand was scheduled to appear on the TODAY show Monday morning in anticipation of the release of his book, Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions. But in the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Las Vegas, with more than 50 individuals confirmed dead and 400 wounded, the NBC program bumped his appearance to focus instead on the breaking news.
Ever the outspoken comedian and cultural critic, Brand chose instead to post a video on social media exploring the societal factors that continue to enable a culture in which mass shootings have been normalized.
“It’s interesting that America’s ideas about freedom to purchase arms continues to hold the imagination so strongly even after Sandy Hook,” says Brand, who is from the United Kingdom, where handguns had been effectively banned after the 1996 shooting at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland (the United Kingdom now has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world). “It’s sort of tragic that as I’m looking at this, I’m not thinking, ‘What?! Fifty people have died?!’ Instead, it’s like ‘one of those things has happened.’ It is already normalized by virtue of the fact it happens a lot.”
Brand later asks, “What is it that’s bubbling up from under the surface in the form of violence of this kind? I would argue that it’s extreme unhappiness, extreme darkness, an unaddressed darkness…. This social phenomena occurring this regularly and our ability to see it as kind of normal is an indication that we need to address the root cause, and the root cause is always the consciousness of human beings on an individual and social level.”
“This won’t stop happening unless we change our mentality,” he concludes.