Russell Brand has criticised the tabloid media coverage of Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who is believed to have deliberately crashed flight 4U9525 into a mountain in southern France.
The comedian urges viewers to look beyond laying the blame with the individual to what he perceives to be the cause of his mental health issues – living in a capitalist society.
In his latest dissection of the FOX News coverage of the disaster that killed 150 people, Brand pinpoints one anchor’s comment on a smiling picture of 27-year-old Lubitz, saying he looked more like “someone who’d rather crash a party than crash a plane”.
He notes that 50 per cent of people will suffer from some diagnosable form of mental illness in their lifetimes, while only 60 per cent of those will receive any help.
“So far from being something weird, peculiar, uncommon, it’s some normal thing that’s happening all the time,” Brand said. “Why is it happening all the time? Why are we living in the times of a mental illness plague?”
The answer, he considers, is in the hands of those in power, like FOX News.
“The reason FOX News can’t be honest about what causes mental illness is that FOX News IS what causes mental illness,” he continues.
“FOX News are the propaganda machine of capitalism – a system that separates us from one another and tells us the way to solve our individual problems is through purchasing, through buying things, through identifying primarily through our roles as consumers, not as active citizens or participants in society, members in communities that should care about others, but people who shouldn’t be condemning those who are weaker, vilifying people that act in any way that’s unusual. We know in the core of our being that that isn’t right, so it creates a friction and a tension. We know that what [the FOX Anchor] is saying isn’t true.
“The reality is [Lubitz] lived in a system that causes individuals to malfunction, because we have a lack of cohesion, a lack of connection and a lack of truth. If you want incidents like this, and like the montage at the beginning suggested, less mad individuals whether it’s Adolf Hitler, Isis, or the fella crashing the plane, if you want less problems of this nature, I believe the solution is not to look at madness, darkness and evil as an outside issue, but as an internal issue.”
“We can never have that conversation properly because FOX News and big corporations benefit from things being the way they are,” he concludes.
Brand’s comments follow a statement released by internal investigators that said that Lubitz had suffered from suicidal tendencies several years ago.
“The co-pilot received psychotherapy treatment, with recorded suicidal tendencies, several years ago – before receiving his pilot’s licence,” it read.
“In the following period and until recently there were further doctors’ visits and sick notes, without suicidal tendencies or aggression towards others attested.”