By Maria Puente
March 3, 2015
These are words we never expected to see after Russell Brand’s name: coherent, cogent, even persuasive crusader against pornography.
We’re talking about a British comedian/actor/activist/prankster who describes himself as an “obsessed” porn consumer.
He’s the guy whose reputation for wacky behavior has expanded since he started posting videos on various unconventional topics on his YouTube show, The Trews (true news). The same guy who informed ex-wife Katy Perry he wanted a divorce in a text.
But there he is, sitting shirtless (maybe naked) in his bed, laptop on lap, speaking in a rapid flow of references to studies and statistics, compellingly describing the pointlessness of porn in a video that has garnered more than 1.8 million views so far.
“Our attitudes toward sex have become warped and perverted and have deviated from its true function as an expression of love and a means for procreating,” Brand declares in the video.
Who knew Brand would be the guy to deconstruct porn?
Not the anti-porn advocacy community, which took notice and sent him an open letter Tuesday praising his video and thanking him for citing its research on the “destructive influence” of porn.
“We must say it was the first time we have been quoted publicly from such an informal setting — and from a shirtless individual at that!” said the letter signed by anti-porn researchers Jill Manning and Gary Brooks, plus four organizations, including Girls Against Porn & Human Trafficking.
The letter praised Brand for taking anti-porn research usually lost in academia and making it go viral, palatable and accessible to a huge audience.
“By leveraging your celebrity status and bringing attention to a critical public health and Internet safety issue, you have helped countless people,” the letter said.
The video, to which Brand has added and expanded, was spurred in part by the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, which Brand condemned as “soft porn smog.”
Originally entitled “Has Porn Ruined My Chance at a Happy Marriage,” Brand says in the video that the answer is yes and that he is Exhibit A.
“I was exposed to such a lot of it from such a young age, it’s affected my ability to relate to women” and maintain a relationship,” he says in the video.
But when he was young (he’s 39), porn was hard to get; now “icebergs of filth are floating through every house on Wi-Fi,” he says. Teen boys can easily access it now, which can be dizzying and excited and also “corrupting,” he says.
Brand is having an impact, say anti-porn activists. Manning, a therapist who specializes in treating porn-related disorders, and Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, say they’ve already heard that parents and teens are talking about the video.
Brand has “unwittingly given parents a useful launching point and young adults an influential role model of someone who is honest about pornography’s impact in their life, including his wrestling with it,” says Manning,
“Certainly others, celebrities especially, will be encouraged to speak up about these issues and will help the public better understand what the often confusing research states — that porn harms,” added Hawkins.