Last night, as a driving rain fell on Lower Manhattan and the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street debated whether to authorize a statement condemning the Democratic Party as a bought-and-paid for agent of corrupt Wall Street interests, Russell Brand visited Zuccotti Park.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstration has a decidedly ambivalent relationship with celebrity. Early appearances in Zuccotti Park by the likes of Michael Moore, Roseanne Barr, and Susan Sarandon certainly helped raise the profile of a fledgling movement.
Musical performances by Talib Kweli, Jeff Mangum, and others — to say nothing of the imaginary Radiohead show — helped buoy the spirits of cold and sleep-deprived demonstrators and draw more attention to the occupation.
Teach-ins by lefty luminaries like Slavoj Zizek, Naomi Klein, and Richard Wolff have added some theoretical heft to the movement.
But for a radically horizontal movement intrinsically suspicious of elites, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Kanye’s drop in last week was greeted with somewhat muted enthusiasm. And while Brand kept a relatively low profile, other than strolling through the park with the glaring light of a high-end video camera trained on himself at all times, some Occupy Wall Street supporters weren’t convinced his presence was contributing to the revolution: