In this conversation with Charlot Duboc, Russell Brand reveals himself as a borderline vicious narcissist. Their conversation is so chock-full of subtle yet blatant narcissistic behavior, that the only way to accurately address all of it is to break it down minute by minute, which I have done. Maybe it can serve as a warning. Maybe you can learn to identify the narcissists in your life. Narcissists have to minimize others to feel whole, it’s part of their survival, and the more their destructive attempts to elevate themselves fly under the radar, the better, for the narcissist. Here are the warning signs I’ve noticed, see if you can spot them or even some that I missed.

:01 Charlot has shown-off to him in a subtle and playful way and asked if he can duplicate what she’s done. A narcissist takes something as simple and playful as this as a real challenge.

:04 Russell interprets this as her assumption of deserved credit, but narcissists interpret any crediting of another with a loss of their own power. He points out a flaw of hers, to remind her that she may be deserving of a tiny bit of recognition, but that doesn’t mean she’s special. She engages with his insult and he cuts her off and condescends to her about the shape the interview has taken, a shape that he created.

Making any subtle attempt to receive recognition from a narcissist terrifies them. It reminds them that there are traits in the other that deserve praise and they worry if they contain comparable traits. They are terrified that something positive will come up about the other person that they personally will not be able to match and they subconsciously begin to deliver reminders that the other person is not as good as they think they are, for insurance purposes.

1:08 Charlot makes a joke with a sexual undertone.

1:11 Russell minimizes her entire womanhood based on her joke, he lets her know that he’s pinned her down according to her “only frame of reference.” (His words, his limiting assumption.)

1:54 He begins to flirt with her, making it clear that he’s attracted. This adds a very dangerous element into their conversation because now if he loses power, he’s also lost a sexual prospect. Narcissists can’t bare to lose ANYTHING that they need to survive: power, attention, adoration, and sex being four main needs. He is at risk of losing more of those needs than he’s willing to, if this conversation doesn’t go according to his selfish and perfectionist expectations.

2:07 He continues to openly pigeonhole her, summing up his view of her entire life, extremely negatively. Oh, but it’s playful, because there’s also sexual tension in the room, which he views as a pass to be more cruel, because he can just turn up the flirting if she actually takes something he says at face value, Brand forbid.

2:14 He relates his negative impression of her to his deep worry for all of society.

2:50 He insults her for not having time to read his book, after she has already explained that she had not been told about their interview in enough time to finish it.

2:55 He makes another harsh, inappropriate, and disrespectful judgement on her life based on her thin frame and tells her that she probably spends more money every weekend on cocaine than the price of the book.

2:59 She tells him, earnestly and kindly, that she has never done cocaine.

This next move is like a magic trick:

3:00 He pats her on the knee and says, “Good girl.” condescendingly letting her know that she has earned his praise for not coinciding with yet another of his viscous assumptions of her reality. Notice there is no apology for brazenly assuming something about her that is derogatory and not true, instead he twists his brazen assumption into something that he can leech even more power from. He’s actually manipulated his insult into a chance for her to receive a pat on the head from him.

3:10 He begins to express the very first positive thoughts of the interview. They are all about him and his worldview.

3:25 He’s in his element now, proselytizing without question and interruption. He has attention and complete control in this moment, and so, he is full of energy and life and vibrancy. He is the teacher and she is his empty student and this is the dynamic that fuels him.

4:00 He leans in closely and lists the ways in which his worldview would make her life better than it already is. An assertion of his power and an elimination of hers.

4:13 He continues to swim around in a warm pool of his own rehearsed thoughts. He imagines her and the viewers of the video as his slack-jawed, wide-eyed audience. This image is bliss to him.

4:34 She begins to ask a question that refers to “his” revolution.

His brain interprets this as her speaking down on his ideas, reducing them to the thoughts of a single man, rather than the BIG UNIVERSAL TRUTHS he believes them to be. It’s as if she has called his life’s work, his “little project.” In this moment, he sees that she knows that the utopia he’s describing is disconnected from any reachable reality, for many people. He fears that she knows his “revolution” is merely a way for him to appear nobler by people dumber than him; that it’s merely a new ploy for attention. This is not okay with him.

4:36 Russell’s autopilot for regaining power kicks in immediately, and he combats her assumption that the Revolution, which is the title of his book with his face on it, isn’t about him, by reframing every single one of his previous statements. This isn’t “his revolution!” Come on! It’s not about him! If there’s a chance of being seeing as heroic because of his thoughts, his thoughts are his, but if he’s going to be seen as an ignorant dreamer with a silly god complex, he will outsource those thoughts very, very quickly. Within one second, to be exact.

4:50 Charlot responds to the many points he made about people not having time to read, or not buying his book even if they do have time to read, with a suggestion–she asks if he had considered handing his books out to the people, if spreading the content is the most important thing.

4:56 He assumes his most condescending posture and tone of voice thus far and calls her idea inefficient, while using her name for chastising emphasis. He does so with an attitude of someone who has a better idea. He’s wrong, of course. Handing out the book might not be an efficient way to make money, but as a distribution method, it is more efficient, obviously. But a narcissist will not acknowledge a valid point that somebody else has made, about something that has to do with them.

5:00 She tells him he seems angry.

5:02 He interprets this as another possible loss of power. “Angry” is a word that one is not labeled with favorably, so he avoids the reality of her claim by listing a lot of other things that make him happy! In the midst of his listing, he realizes that he’s being seen by this woman and his brain calls in another of his mechanisms for gaining power by being worshipped: humor.

5:28 He launches into a loud, over the top, Williams-esque bit about elephant semen.

5:37 He looks at Charlot, mid bit, to gauge her enjoyment. It is mild and polite, so he keeps going. He has not yet received what he came here for.

5:47 She unenthusiastically acknowledges his attempt to entertain her, but guides him back to the point of their conversation.

5:49 He cannot handle this loss of power and control and becomes very visibly uncomfortable.

5:54 He fumbles his words trying to get his flow back. For him this is hugely unacceptable, his terror surrounding loss of control is literally revealing itself. His pleas for adoration have not worked to his liking and his plane is going down.

6:00 He notices that this otherwise very natural looking and plainly dressed woman is wearing earrings. Ah yes, earrings can easily be branded as sinful adornment for charlatans! A new angle to use against her and for himself. He tries to take the earring off of her as if to say, “You are not better than me, your beauty is a facade.”

6:04 He calls her a liar and further asserts that she is a vacant consumer with no time or capacity for his big ideas.

6:06 Okay, time to switch avenues again. He will try kindness because his typical personality isn’t working in the way he likes it to work. He asks where she’s from while continuing his attempt to take off her jewelry.

6:24 He leans in closer and now adds “smiling” to his routine.

6:38 Charlot, for the first time, adopts his communicative style and begins to summarize and minimize his life into unfavorable bullet points and he squirms.

6:45 He reminds her, with a tone and a gesture, that by holding her earring, he has power over her. He needs to make this clearer now, in case she’s not getting it.

6:54 He insults her again.

6:56 She begins to confront him about the subtly abusive ways he has been behaving since the interview started. She has a list of mild-moderate attacks from him at her expense that she has been polite about.

7:01 He finds one point of hers that is slightly off in its accuracy and defends himself against it’s misrepresentation, ignoring the overall truth in what she is saying, a very common tactic for a narcissist when being confronted. To her face, he disregards the fact that he has offended her, but his brain does realize it because he’s not a dummy and it is changing avenues again, in a last-ditch effort to remain on top. He’s tried the proselytizing, he’s tried the humor, he briefly dipped into warmth, the only card he has left is the “Outrageous Stories From My Past” card. He loves that card and he plays it often.

7:11 He finds an opportunity to correct her, asserting his voice over hers, once again.

7:12 He plays his Outrageous-Story card, to get that wide-eyed reaction he interprets as adoration, which he interprets as power. His story has nothing to do with her, or their conversation thus far, and is entirely about “something that happened to him once.”

7:44 He finds another way to talk down to her as she’s trying to compliment his book. He uses the words, “You don’t know.”

8:00 He explains to her the depth of what she’s referring to, taking her compliment and using it as yet another opportunity to correct her and tell her that she doesn’t really understand what he’s talking about.

8:35 He reminds her of a “struggle” of hers, one that he doesn’t relate to, and tells her that it doesn’t surprise him.

8:40 He asserts that she’s so disconnected from reality, the reality he is selling, that she has no idea what time of day it is when she’s adorning herself with the frivolous jewelry that he took off of her and is still holding.

8:54 He mentions her beauty but couches it in a grim reminder that it’s already fading.

9:13 He offers her two choices, his view of this life or her view of this life. When he sums up his assumption of her view of this life, he uses air quotes.

9:28 He begins to compliment her, but in doing so, he mentions two traits about her that he formerly mocked, which is confusing, and ends with “you’ve read a quarter of a book.” He deliberately doesn’t use the words “my book” because that would make him the loser in that statement. In a conversation with a narcissist, there is always a winner and a loser and the narcissist is always the winner, or else. If he said that she read a quarter of his book, the implication might be that she didn’t care enough to read his book. Instead, when he says, “You’ve read a quarter of a book.” the implication is that she can not finish a book. She is the loser in that scenario, not him.

9:34 He holds up her earring and actually asks her if she would like it back, somehow finding a way to drain that interaction for even more power for himself.

9:44 She asks why he wanted the earring.

9:45 They get a “wrap-up” signal from producers; he is rushed.

9:46 If he wasn’t a narcissist, he might take this opportunity to apologetically drop the bit because their time is up, but he extends his assertion of power even further by removing his question and turning his robbery of her property into a demand that she take the item back from him.

9:47 He calls back to his failed attempt to get the earring off, a moment of weakness that will surely plague him more than we realize, and he twists it into another insult of her frivolous womanhood.

9:56 She asks if taking her earring made him happy, but admitting that he got anything positive from her is too risky for his shaky position in which he’s not sure if he was able to impress or please her to his liking.

9:57 He says “it was alright” as a way of saying, “I may not have been successful in asserting my power over you and my allure upon you, but you have not impressed me either.” He checks his phone while saying so, as if to convey, “I wasn’t as successful as I usually am, but none of this matters to me very much at all, I am already somewhere else.”

 

Notice that he manages to make her a victim numerous times in this short conversation. Notice that he never earns the power that he takes for himself and he never even comes close to sharing it. Narcissists are not as interested in earning power as they are in having it. Nobody is powerful all the time, but narcissists have to believe that they are and since a narcissist views themselves as above whomever they choose to interact with, they pay careful consideration to interacting with people who do not challenge their elevated position. If they accidentally find themselves in a situation in which they are hovering dangerously close the lower realm that everyone else inhabits, and their tools to boost themselves back up are not working, they will work to lower the other person’s position in an attempt to recreate the perceived distance between themselves and the rest of the world. Beware of this type of shit, especially because it’s so often employed by people with a ton of other traits that can seem alluring at the outset.

Take care of yourselves, everyone, and remember to Know Your Narcissists.