Comedian Russell Brand was kicked out of the 2013 GQ Men of the Year Awards after he made jokes about one of the event’s sponsors, Hugo Boss, and the brand’s connection to the Nazi party as he accepted the Oracle Award. In light of the event, and his subsequent boot from the rest of the evening, Brand is opening up about his side of the story … and it’s an interesting, highly intelligent, at times hilarious, and most times brutally honest long-read.
“It must have been a while since I’ve attended a fancy, glitzy event, because as soon as I got to the GQ awards I felt like something was up,” Brand says in his essay on The Guardian. “The usual visual grammar was in place — a carpet in the street, people in paddocks awaiting a brush with something glamorous, blokes with earpieces, birds in frocks of colliding colours that if sighted in nature would indicate the presence of poison. I’m not trying to pass myself off as some kind of Francis of Assisi, Yusuf Islam, man of the people, but I just wasn’t feeling it.”
Brand goes on to describe the events of the night, interjecting with his brutal personal feelings about paparazzi, the media, and glitzy events. “In case you don’t know, these parties aren’t like real parties. It’s fabricated fun, imposed from the outside. A vision of what squares imagine cool people might do set on a spaceship. Or in Moloko,” Brand says. “I also don’t drink, so these affairs where most people rinse away their Britishness and twitishness with booze are for me a face-first log flume of backslaps, chitchat, eyewash and gak.”
Brand was at the event to accept the Oracle Award, which he found somewhat ridiculous given the definition of oracle. “Thankfully, I have a sense of humour that prevents me from taking accolades of that nature on face value, or I’d’ve been in the tricky position of receiving the GQ award for being ‘best portal to a mystical dimension,’ which is a lot of pressure,” Brand says. “Me, [Brand’s friend] Matt, and Noel [Gallagher] conclude it’s probably best to treat the whole event as a bit of a laugh and, as if to confirm this as the correct attitude, [Mayor of London] Boris Johnson — a man perpetually in pajamas regardless of what he’s wearing — bounds to the stage to accept the award for ‘best politician.’ Yes, we agree: this is definitely a joke.”
However, when Brand made his infamous comments during his acceptance speech, he soon found out that not everyone felt the same way he did. “I said the ‘oracle award’ sounds like a made-up prize you’d give a fat kid on sports day — I should know, I used to get them — then that it’s barmy that Hugo Boss can trade under the same name they flogged uniforms to the Nazis under and the ludicrous necessity for an event such as this one to banish such a lurid piece of information from our collective consciousness,” Brand says. “I could see the room dividing as I spoke. I could hear the laughter of some and louder still silence of others. I realised that for some people this was regarded as an event with import. The magazine, the sponsors and some of those in attendance saw it as a kind of ceremony that warranted respect.”