I think I discovered London Real some time in 2013 or 2014. I was in a dark place and I remember how I cheered myself up almost every day by listening to interviews on London Real while doing chores around the house.
I loved the slogan ‘It’s about the journey’ because I had – and was – going through so many changes that nothing seemed to make sense anymore. Enter that slogan. No matter the shit I was dealing with it might still lead somewhere.
I admired Brian’s consistency. There was a new interview every Sunday.
I loved the background story or origin story. A guy turns his back on his colleagues on Wall Street and decides to create inspiring content on YouTube. I think in the early days there was also the slogan ‘putting the BBC out of business’.
The guy seemed to have an insane work ethic and to be just doing things his own way. I always get goose bumbs when hard work and a kind of punk spirit meet.
I also liked his co-host Nic.
The first red flag I spotted on London Real was when Brian kicked Nic off the show. His explanation for this was rather flimsy. I thought Brian simply didn’t like Nic’s laid back attitude.
But something seemed off. Brian had obviously always been rather on edge, manic and greedy for more views, but he had never seemed toxic or spiteful. At that moment he did come across as a bit of an asshole. Nic had repeatedly told Brian he loved him on the show. It’s never been entirely clear to me what happened there and I guess we will never hear the full version.
Looking back Nic may have been putting the brakes on Brian, but perhaps that was a good thing.
Brian suddenly starting swinging into a wholly different direction reminiscent of his time as a banker. Greed is good and all that macho prick waving.
Enter Dan Pena. Major bully and douchebag who thinks screaming at people is a most valuable pedagogical tool.
Brian changed and started treating Dan as his father, if not his God. These days he dresses exactly like Dan Pena. Which honestly looks like what someone with bipolar disorder in a manic phase would do.
The studio also changed into a temple dedicated to Mammon.
More and more there was a split in the content.
One week the channel would have one of the fiercest critics of the capitalist system as its guest, Peter Joseph, and then the next week or so we would see Dan Pena bragging about how he ripped the asshole out of the world.
Then throw in a bit of psychedelics, a bit of yoga here and there, lots of bodybuilding, nutrition, movement, and political activism. It was an odd mix.
But an odd mix I could relate to. Hey, while I was working for the communist party and really trying to toe the party line I myself was dreaming of becoming fabulously wealthy.
Brian Rose is certainly not the only one with some dichotomy in his soul.
The thing with Brian though is that he edged more and more toward the money lusting banker side of his. His Mammon side and not his Venusian side (for lack of a better term).
I genuinely believe Brian wants to do good in this world, but at the same time he also has some deep wound that needs to be compensated for with money and power.
He also has a strong need to be liked. No matter which guest he had on he always treated them as though they were his friends. I don’t recall him ever asking a truly critical question. This softball interview style had the advantage that his guests seemed to open up to him, because they weren’t afraid. Brian just kept saying ‘that’s fascinating’.
It did make him come across as someone who had no clear opinion about any topic at all because he seemed to be agreeing with any viewpoint he just happened to be confronted with.
That got annoying and I stopped watching for several years. From time to time I would go back to it and listen to maybe one interview here and there. The one with Gabor Maté.
I did watch all interviews with David Icke as I do love me a bit of juicy sensation. And I find David Icke somewhat entertaining, though he’s obviously blurting out unscientific gobbledygook half of the time. Here and there he has a few interesting things to say. And am not talking about the shape shifting reptiles. I am talking about certain things he has to say about global affairs and US foreign policy for example.
Then there is the scam part. One can be a money obsessed attention whore, nothing wrong with that per se, but scamming people is something else.
I am convinced Brian’s business accelerator programmes are a total cash grab. I do believe many participants feel cheated.
I also think that Brian is a successful content creator, but I very much doubt he knows how to run a successful, hugely profitable business.
I mean, first of all, we can’t all be YouTubers, second of all many people have pointed out that Brian’s company is not doing well financially. From what I gather his company is in debt. Participants in his courses have also said he spent very little time with them and showed signs of utterly delusional grandeur and megalomania. Perhaps not the guy to tell you how to set up and run a profitable business.
I paid some money to join his academy back in the day. Not much. It got me one friend that am still sort of in touch with. I also bought some merchandise. Some of it I still wear, but these days am not sure if I wish people who know the show to spot me in those clothes.
Brian is now running to be the mayor of London. He doesn’t have a chance in hell to win the election, but I actually think he has now drunk so much ‘everything is possible if you just commit to it hard enough’ koolaid that he does not fully realize this.
He seems to be betting on himself or letting his fans bet on him. So the bookies are now indicating he is number two in the race. This is of course completely false. I predict that he will get less than 5 percent of the vote. I think he completely overestimates the number of Londoners who actually know him and his show.
He’s also asked for donating to run and he seems to have promised never to use that money on London Real, but critics have said that this is exactly what he did.
I do not intend this article as the crucification of Brian Rose. He most certainly has an incredible drive and a great passion for knowledge.
What’s sad is that I think he would be more successful today if he had ignored Dan Pena and not fallen for the ‘greed is good’ mantra. He used to have some truly fascinating people on his show. And though he never came across as especially likeable – he was a bit too obsessed with growing his show for that -, he never seemed completely delusional.
I think Brian needs some help and support. Maybe some sort of intervention by people close to him.
I mean, now it’s running for Mayor of London. When that fails, what’s going to be next? With the pattern he is displaying something bigger will soon be needed. This is going to escalate somehow before he finally embraces some humility again.
Also disturbing is that he has deleted tons of content he created that connects him to right wing ideologies or other controversial topics. He’s also deleted comments and it’s been proven he has shamed fans by assuming they were broke and losers.
I think Brian wanted to heal himself from some deep emotional anguish by becoming successful and getting tons of attention, but never realized that was not the way. He chases these things to dull the pain inside, but it’s never enough. The pain continues. If he ever hits a wall and his popularity wanes he might do some crazy shit to get back into the spotlight.
I don’t think Brian is a bad guy. I think like all of us he has those two wolves inside him (you know the alleged Native American story, I guess), a good one and a bad one. The one you feed wins. Brian is feeding the wrong one right now.
One last note: in watching other people criticize Brian Rose I noticed we live in a culture that expects others to be perfect. But who is perfect?
Brian has made some amazing guest and has introduced many people all over the world to interesting ideas. Some questionable or outright stupid ones, but definitely a lot of great ones as well.
I think he will lose his bid to become the mayor of London and that’s probably a good thing, I very much doubt he will ever become a billionaire and I don’t see any reason to safely assume Brian will seriously help you set up a succesful business, but I also think he will continue to inspire a lot of people.
He has good things to offer and some bad ones too. Take the good ones, encourage him to create more of those and call him out for the bad ones.
I still think it’s about the journey and the older I become the more I think it’s all about making that journey lighter and more fulfilling for those around us. (Especially for my son in my own case)
PS. A week after writing this blog post Nic broke his silence on his partnership with Brian. It’s a very insightful testimony. Anyone who follows London Real should check it out.