Russell Brand at MTV Video Music Awards 2008Embarrassing performance by MTV Video Music Awards host exemplifies intolerance of smug sexual radicals and moral relativists.


Americans still tend to think of England as a charming, socially stratified, emotionally repressed domain of stuffy baronets, cheerful Cockney laborers, Sherlock Holmes, Bertie Wooster, rascally Dickensian characters, friendly bobbies, intrepid explorers such as Dr. Livingstone, and plucky mums like Mrs. Miniver making do with meager rations during wartime, etc.

It’s a natural habit. Britain really was somewhat like that, 75 years ago and more. But nowadays one is much less likely to see a friendly bobby telling a vagrant to move along than to see a drunken stockbroker urinating on a public street. Britain has gone "mod" once again, and its current-day culture makes the Swingin’ ’60s look stuffy by comparison.

Americans will probably think twice before going much more in the same direction.

Much evidence of this was provided by the antics of the obscure and annoying English actor-comedian Russell Brand at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards program, which aired live Sunday night on the channel that prides itself on its depressingly fashionable stupidity and vulgarity.

The AP story provides a good rundown of Brand’s efforts, which went over very poorly with the audience at the "ceremony," a group of industry people who usually enjoy the adolescent sassiness prevalent at the event.

Not this time, AP notes:

Russell Brand seemed a little out of place as the host at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Not because he’s British or relatively unknown in America, as most of the chatter was about before Sunday night’s show from Los Angeles.

It was because Brand injected the VMAs with blunt politics, self deprecation, unabashed sexuality, and, yes, plenty of off-color remarks.

Particularly tin-eared was Brand’s eagerness to send a predictable, partisan political message he has no business, as a foreigner and a particularly ignorant one, sending:

Early in his opening monologue, Brand pleaded: "Please, America, elect Barack Obama. On behalf of the world."

Most of the crowd, seemingly caught of guard, cheered, though at least a few pop stars didn’t. The camera caught Britney Spears—who in 2003 said citizens should "just trust our president"—sitting quietly.

Brand then referred to President Bush as "that retarded cowboy fellow"—yes, the retarded cowboy whom the American people elected twice as their president. These are the yokels from whom Brand hopes to extract a good deal of money in the coming years. Good luck with that, Barama boy.

Brand, best known in the United States for a co-starring role in the forgettable Jud Apatow-produced comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, has largely made his name by making an ass of himself, as AP notes:

After all, Brand has built his image on his candor and edginess. He’s well-known across the pond as a standup comic, TV show host and radio DJ—but more so as an outlandish and hedonistic figure who speaks unabashedly about his prior drug and sex addictions.

He made sure to stress that side of things at the awards program:

Sashaying around the stage in black leather, heeled shoes and snake skin scarf, Brand seemed to censor himself even less as the night wore on. . . .

Again and again, Brand—a confessed former sex addict [who seems to have learned nothing from experience]—poked fun at young sex and abstinence. Speaking of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughter’s boyfriend and would-be father, Levi Johnston, Brand sympathized with him: "That is the safe sex message of all time. Use a condom or become a Republican!

Once again, we see that the antinomian social progressives are among the most intolerant people in our society today. That very immoral certainty often leads them to overestimate the appeal of their ideas, however, and Brand finally overstepped the boundaries of even the ordinarily sass-loving MTV audience:

Brand clearly angered some in attendance when he repeatedly joked about the Jonas Brothers, the sons of a pastor, all of whom wear purity rings as a symbol of their vow not to have premarital sex. At one point, Brand brandished one as if he had won it from a Jonas brother.

Jordin SparksReflecting a cultural tide that is moving steadily away from the half-century, post World War II trend toward antinomianism, moral relativism, and knee-jerk rejection of anything seen as traditional or suppressing any momentary urge someone somewhere might feel, popular singer Jordin Sparks (who reportedly wears a purity ring too) jumped to the Jonas Brothers’ defense while onstage to present an award:

"American Idol" champ Jordin Sparks defended them: "I just wanna say, it’s not bad to wear a promise ring because not every guy and a girl wants to be a slut, OK?"

Brand later apologized to the Jonas Brothers, whom another AP story described as being "stone-faced" during Brand’s apology. Their judgment was proven accurate when the host went on to indulge in more unprintable jokes.

That same AP story noted that the Jonas Brothers proved vastly more popular at the show than its sneering, preening host:

The Jonas Brothers performed a version of their song ”Lovebug” that was so genteel one might have thought they were doing a tribute to the Osmonds. But the trio then segued to a rocked-out version of the song in the final moments, as a throng of screaming fans surrounded them on one of the show’s many sets.

The fact that at least some of the MTV audience was not amused by the host’s tired routine of slf-indulgent vulgarity and extremely safe pseudo-rebelliousness is surely a hopeful sign. The real courage on the MTV stage was not from the smug Brit but from the openly virginal Jordin Sparks and Jonas Brothers.

Those who talk incessantly about their passion for accepting all kinds of people without reserve ought to live by their words if they really wish to make a positive difference in this world.