"I am the lizard king. I can't do anything."
Every once in a while you see it. Some bright spark, who, through overwork, over exposure, or taking the wrong chemicals at the right time, ends up frying his brain while also activating his messianic lobe. The most famous example is the legendary David Icke, once a humble TV presenter, who woke up one day, looked into his bowl of corn flakes, and decided that the world was run by shape-shifting "space lizards."
But Icke's getting on a bit, and has certainly mellowed a lot since I spoke to him some years ago. So, there's clearly a giant-sized vacancy for a new "Lizard King," Step up Russell Brand, with his coked-up, neo-hippie gibberish about the mystical revolution that is upon us.
Kooks like Icke and now Brand are essentially false oppositional figures or totems, symbols capable of soaking up a lot of the rebellious energy and interest out there. But their actual diagnosis of the situation is so kooky that nobody would ever want to take the next step. John Lydon summed it up perfectly when he said:
"What he’s preaching there is a lifestyle of cardboard boxes down by the river. He’ll make you all homeless. He’s preaching all this from the mansion. Lovely innit."In other words, they provide a critique that just criticizes, a system of change in which change is like tomorrow – always a day away (thankfully). You can see how Icke's readers and followers are drawn in. They are essentially nice, dimwits, who follow their man's outlandish theories because a saner and more truthful analysis of the problems of modernity and globalization would push them out of the cozy "Boomersphere" into some very politically incorrect territory.
The Boomersphere, by the way, is that big cluster of nebulous but interrelated, touchy-feely cultural and moral concepts that surrounded the 1960s like an amniotic fluid, and which most people still cling to. Space lizards is how some of them square the circle.
|"That's my boy": Brand and Icke.|
In recent appearances, like the Russia Today interview above, Brand has the same spaced-out, unfocused look that Icke had when he flipped. He has finally come home and found his destiny – to be the freak false opposition, soaking up the attention and some of the genuine angst, and taking it, like Icke before him, on a meandering trip to nowhereville via Alpha Centauri.
He'll have to up his game, however, if he's to truly claim the Lizard throne. But no worries there. The man – or his addled messianic lobe – is clearly working on it. Notice the key phrases starting to emerge: "galling inequality," "ecological crisis," "means of new communication," "systemic change," and "elites" (the baddies).
"Systemic change" is also a great way of letting him off the hook, so that he doesn't have to give away his money, split his cloak with a beggar, and move into a cardboard box himself, as that would just be a "sweet, futile gesture" before Nirvana was established.While he's got the look, the rhetoric is still a bit ropey, relying overmuch on already hackneyed cliches. This will require work. In particular, he'll have to up the imagery and start explaining why the "awakening people" are still in bed, who exactly the evil elite is, and how they control everything. But given his obvious talent and the rewards that come with the post, it's a fair bet that within a few years he'll have hammered out his own over-convoluted theory of what's wrong with the world that will be just as colorful, unworkable, and strangely reassuring as Icke's space lizards.