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07.19.11

The Man Who Pied Murdoch

In the middle of Tuesday’s News of the World hearing, a man approached Rupert Murdoch with a pie in hand and was met by his wife Wendi Deng’s fist. More on Jonathan May-Bowles, the self-proclaimed activist behind the pie.

“It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat,” self-proclaimed activist Jon May-Bowles tweeted under his online alias, Jonnie Marbles, before approaching newspaper mogul Rupert Murdoch with a plate full of shaving cream at Parliament on Tuesday. The “comedian, father figure, and all-round nonsense” has been tweeting about Murdoch and the News of the World scandal since it broke, and since 2009 he has kept up a blog called Anarch*ish* with the subheadline, “Because the state's not gonna smash itself.” May-Bowles was quick to take on the smashing, splatting, and the like on Tuesday when Murdoch sat before Parliament. The plaid-clad May-Bowles approached Murdoch with a pie in his hand, only to be met by iron fist of the mogul’s wife, Wendi Deng.

Video screenshot

Before piegate, May-Bowles had tried his hand at a combination of activism and stand-up comedy. In 2009 he was part of Antony Gormley’s One & Other public art project in London, in which one person occupied the usually vacant fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square for an hour each for 100 days. For his portion, May-Bowles invited people to text him their secrets, which he then read aloud.

Clearly, he has no problem confronting the confidential head-, or pie-, on. May-Bowles reportedly screamed, “You are a greedy billionaire,” before hitting Murdoch with the shaving-cream-filled foil pie plate, according to CNN.

Finally, he made contact—but it wasn’t his first attempt. On July 12, May-Bowles tried to meet Murdoch face-to-face and wound up standing outside his house the following day with a giant puppet in hand. Though it’s unclear what the stunt was, it never came into fruition.

Less than a week later, May-Bowles gave his 1,000-plus Twitter followers hints that he was up to something when he tweeted, “Does anyone know what order the CMS select committee will be interviewing witnesses?”  Soon thereafter, he revealed, “I'm actually in this committee and can confirm: Murdoch is Mr. Burns,” referencing Homer’s stereotypical corporate-America boss and villain on The Simpsons, and he’s not the first to make the comparison. Four years ago, Murdoch was parodied by the cartoon series and reportedly wrote his own introduction: "I'm Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire tyrant.”

Though the pie-in-the-face bit is a longstanding comedic gag, May-Bowles, who wound up receiving the brunt of the pie’s contents on his face in addition to Murdoch’s wife’s ire, is probably not laughing. The police confirmed to The Guardian that he’s been detained, and the hearing resumed as if it never happened, minus Murdoch’s jacket.