In 10:53 minutes of pure political theater, master provocateur and “cheeky” Brit comic, Russell Brand, took on two of the Westboro Baptist Church with a mix of crass and comedy on his new show, Brand X.
Known for advocating that “God Hates Fags,” picketing the funerals of LGBT veterans and praising natural disasters as God’s punishment for those eternally-damned homosexuals, the WBC was bound to make for a great sit-down with a man they’ve branded as a “Fag Pimp.”
Steve Drain (the one wearing the charming PriestsRapeBoys.com T-shirt) and Timothy Phelps (most likely of the notorious Phelps klan) gifted Brand with a large placard bearing that endearing title and then the three got to talking about the Church’s favorite topic: gay sex.
Bearing striking resemblance to the standard Jerry Springer security guard (bald head, black leather jacket, black tee…sneer), the two God-thugs clearly had an agenda to “speak the Bible.” When asked why they were on the show, in a setting that was clearly outside their spiritual wheelhouse, Steve replied, “We love you enough to tell you what God’s standard is.” From there he went on to describe how much God hated fags and how everyone there in the theater was likely going to Hell.
Russell jumped in: “But from what I’ve read of Jesus…His main message was definitely tolerance and love and truth and beauty and acceptance.”
(Audience cheers wildly.)
Steve: “Hold on, hold on…you don’t get to define the love of God.”
Russell: “Nor do you!!!”
(More audience cheering…Timothy sneers.)
Steve: “The Bible does! And it’s our duty to warn these people to stop sinning.”
And so on and so forth. For the whole hilarious/head-shaking video, click below.
Given their almost mythical reputation as relentless, maniacal haters, spending their time picketing soldiers’ funerals and Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery (they’re fixated on the military due to the repeal of DADT with its mandated acceptance of “fags”), it was oddly fascinating to watch the two men appear almost “normal” with their smiles and articulate answers. That is, if you overlooked Steve’s “PriestsRapeBoys.com” tee-shirt, Timothy’s snarling, pugilistic posture, and, mostly, their “Bible mandated” message of hate justified as the word of God. (Brand actually had a very funny retort when the men insisted that the Bible was written by God: “I don’t think the Holy Spirit had a pen!” Phelps and Drain, again, did not laugh along with the audience.)
While the “bug in a jar” poking surely provided Brand with fodder for humor, it remains stunning to watch two people with such an entrenched sense of religious superiority cast judgments on everyone from Madonna to Tom Hands to, even, Ghandi (yes, they’re ALL “going to Hell”). It’s another potent reminder of the power of religious corruption to propagate hate in the name of Jesus.
But despite his humor and endearing playfulness, Brand clearly had his own political agenda, as well. He brought out a cadre of his gay friends, who attempted some predictably unsuccessful dialogue with the WBC fellows, putting the God-thugs in a state of squirming discomfort. Good TV while making the point.
Brand wrapped it up by holding up the placard the men had given him – “Fag Pimp Brand” – with the comment, “This is to be found also in Corinthians.”
The audience roared. Steve and Timothy…did not.