PIERS MORGAN: The TV tantrum that shows why ‘revolutionary’ Russell Brand is really just a revolting hypocrite
There’s nothing quite as ridiculous as famous people trapped in hypocritical headlamps.
The TV preachers who inform us that ‘illicit sex will take you to the burning fires of hell!’ and then get caught with their pants down by a cheerleader’s ankle;the fashion models who line their pockets filming anti-fur campaigns, but promptly get photographed slipping out of a glitzy nightclub dripping in mink; the actresses who insist they abhor being sexualised yet spend 90% of their time stripping off for naked magazine covers; the sportsmen who wax lyrical about cheating, right to the point they are discovered to have abused steroids for decades.
And so on. There’s almost a chilling inevitability about it, especially with politicians.
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I remember when I was editor of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World in the mid-90s, and heard the then British Prime Minister John Major announce a new government campaign based on a return to old-fashioned family values.
Seconds later, the phone lines erupted with people wanting to reveal how Major’s ministers were all a bunch of adulterous monsters – and they carried on ringing until the campaign was quietly shelved.
Journalists are no better, as we can see from NBC’s medical expert Dr Nancy Snyderman – who apologised on her return to work today after ignoring Ebola safety advice she had espoused on air to sate a craving for her favourite soup.
But of all famous hypocrites, it’s hypocritical comedians who can often provoke the most intense irritation.
They, after all, are usually paid vast fortunes to mock, berate, humiliate and shame….famous hypocrites.
And they are also the ones who usually erupt with the most comically indignant fury when their own rank hypocrisy is exposed.
Enter, my old friend Russell Brand.
Russell is back in the headlines (does he ever strive to be out of them?) after he stood outside the door of No10 Downing Street (home of the aforementioned British Prime Minister) protesting against fears that a US investment firm, Westbrook, was about to massively increase rental rates in East London where once-deprived areas have now become high-priced hipster enclaves.
Brand has repeatedly spoken out against both the high costs of living in London and the importance of cracking down on tax-avoiding firms.
As he ranted and raved to the cameras about the appalling injustice of this American capitalist assault on the impoverished people around him, a television reporter asked him how much he had paid for his own luxury $2.3 million home in London.
‘It’s rented,’ Brand spat back.
‘Well what kind of rent are you paying?’ said the reporter. A perfectly reasonable inquiry you might think given the subject matter of Russell’s protest.
The self-appointed Che Guevara of comedy stared menacingly into the reporter’s eyes and began physically jabbing him with his hand.
‘I’m not interested in talking to you about my rent mate,’ he barked, visibly enraged by the impertinence of this inquisitive journalist, ‘I’m here to support a very, very important campaign.’
‘But you’re a super-rich man protesting about the London property market,’ the reporter replied. ‘You’re part of the problem..’
Brand was outraged.
‘I completely deny that! I’m part of the solution.’
He then turned dramatically to the iconic No10 door and raged: ‘There’s no greater more expensive piece of real estate in London than THAT one, and the people in THERE are the ones that have the obligation, mate.’
The reporter, to his credit, wasn’t about to be cowed into supine silence as so many of Brand’s critics seem to be when he’s shrieking in their face.
‘I’d say your own house is nearly on a par,’ he observed, wryly.
And it was then that Brand made his big mistake.
‘Well, it’s rented,’ he retorted, ‘we don’t know the value, you’d have to talk to my landlord….’
Seconds later, the interview ended with Brand snarling at his interrogator: ‘Snides like you undermine it (the protest). You’re a snide, mate.’
Any viewer watching this exchange would probably be more inclined to deduce that it was Brand himself who’d been the ‘snide’, not the reporter.
The Sun newspaper decided to follow up on Brand’s suggestion and talk to his landlord.
Or rather they tried, only to discover that the landlord concerned is an off-shore company called KKY PTY Ltd, based in the British Virgin Islands, were there are virtually no tax laws.
The Sun calculated that Brand pays around $110,000 a year in rent on his home, which is around three times the average salary of the people he was protesting with.
And he pays this vast sum to the very same type of shameless, rich, greedy, tax-avoiding firm that he wants us all to hate.
As Brand wrote in his own latest book, Revolutions: ‘If they don’t pay tax, we’ll reclaim their assets and give them to the people that work there.’
So presumably we can now look forward to him reclaiming his own house and giving it to the protestors?
There’s always a tipping point in every revolution, good or bad, and I fear Mr Brand just reached his.
Like another sex maniac comedian, Bill Cosby, he thinks his power and fame entitles him to behave in a rankly hypocritical way – and shut down any attempt by the media to challenge it.
Well, it doesn’t work like that I’m afraid.
Though my advice to the two men is polar opposite.
Bill Cosby, for the sake of all the women who claim he drugged and raped them, should start talking.
Russell Brand, for his own sake as much as ours, should just shut up.