We usually enjoy writing our pieces but this one is written sombrely, and it is a piece we never expected to write. We were saddened, and genuinely stunned, to hear of the sudden death of Michael Brooks at the age of 36 on Monday 20th July. For those who do not know, Michael Brooks was an American political commentator whose unique, often satirical, take could mostly be found on YouTube, where he co-hosted The Majority Report with Sam Seder before producing and hosting his own show, The Michael Brooks Show, a fairly bland name which did not reflect his truly imaginative character. Anyone who knew a little about him or who goes off to learn about him after reading this will know that he was a proud socialist, and we should note at this juncture that our tribute to him does not mean that we endorse or support any political ideology. We are a history website whose primary focus is detailing interesting people and stories from the past without delving too deeply into politics. However, one does not have to have agreed with the man on everything to appreciate the humour, passion and supreme intelligence with which he presented his shows, which, perhaps unusually for American or western political shows, had a truly global focus. Michael Brooks was probably the only commentator who could leap straight from a discussion on the American presidential election, to a hilarious ‘Nation of Islam Obama’ parody impression, to an intense discussion on Indian and south American politics. His focus and passion was truly global. As Brits, we particularly appreciated his analysis of our turbulent politics, and although we did not always agree with what he was saying and suggesting we knew that his analysis was thoughtful and earnest.
It is not our place to say that we knew Michael Brooks personally, but you have only to look at the tributes today from those who did to see what a kind, funny and clever man he was. What we can say is that he was an inspiration for us in starting our project and trying to get it off the ground. It is not easy to try and elbow your way into the competitive world of online blogging and commentary, and we are still only at the start our own journey, but having grown up being familiar with The Majority Report and other shows like it, and having watched Michael Brooks start and build his own show to the point where it had over 130,000 subscribers after less than three years, we felt inspired to try and do something similar. Indeed, we even tweeted him a few months ago with a link to our brand new website, and he gave us a like. There was also the time that one of us suggested he meet us for a pint in London, and he responded that he would. These things may not sound like much, but it meant a lot to us that someone as intelligent and as busy as he was had given us a second thought.
And therein lies the reason we felt we needed to write this tribute – not because we intend to take a political turn on our website, but because we are grateful to him. We come from a different, younger generation, who spent our teenage years and early 20s watching the trailblazing YouTube shows of the past decade and more, and are now trying to emulate at least part of their success. Projects such as ours wouldn’t be possible without people such as Michael Brooks, if only because it probably wouldn’t have occurred to us to start in the first place had we not been exposed to his and other YouTube shows. His creativity and drive paved the way for people like us, kept us informed and gave us perspective that we would have never otherwise had.
You never knew us, but we felt like we knew you. Thanks for the knowledge and the laughs, Michael.
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(Cover Photo from YouTube)