The Emperor’s New Clothes

By Kristen Johnson

It’s easy to love Russell Brand, because he is a fabulous comedic actor, as well as a survivor of drug addiction. He’s also really easy to love because he is wickedly funny. It’s even easier to love him, because in spite of his enormous personal wealth, he is a committed activist for social issues.

The Emperor’s New Clothes, starring Russell Brand, is an enormously enlightening documentary about the evils of corporate greed, but more specifically about the 2008 banking meltdown. Mr. Brand goes into great detail about the scandal, how it started, who it hurt (everyone but the rich), as well as the unreal economic disparities that are getting worse and worse in the UK and the U.S. Particularly disturbing is the baffling and disturbing realization that not one single corrupt banker was punished in any way. They just got richer and richer, while the taxpayers paid the bill (and continue to do so).

I really enjoyed watching a UK perspective with my American eyes. Although Mr. Brand did talk a bit about what happened in the U.S. during this timeframe, and he did interview Americans, he focused mainly on the UK. It was fascinating and enlightening to see that they have the same problems of greed, income disparity, poverty, lack of and cuts in social services, etc.

It’s an important film, because it speaks truth. Mr. Brand, in the role of narrator and activist, insists that big corporations must be held accountable for their actions when they slash jobs, send jobs overseas and treat their employees like slaves, and refuse to (legally!) pay taxes while the rest of us suffer! I also found it interesting that Franklin Delano Roosevelt began all of his social programs and led us out of the Great Depression by taxing the rich at 68%. They survived the tax increase and society thrived. And, they thrived right until the 1980s when President Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gutted social programs, reduced taxes on the rich, and basically destroyed society.

I admire Russell Brand’s social activism and his insistence that things be made right. I also admire his outrageous humor, which he uses fabulously in the documentary, on an otherwise completely grave and depressing subject.

The time is now to demand change. The time is now to insist that those who wrong society must be held accountable for their actions.

Jeremiah 17:10 (NRSV): I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.

Serve all with love.

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