HOLY HYPOCRISY

03.07.15 11:50 AM ET

Sex Addict Russell Brand’s Unexpected Anti-Porn Crusade

Russell Brand, a self-described “sex addict” and “sexy narcissist,” has claimed to have sex with over 2,000 women and has lobbied against condoms in porn. So why is he blasting the XXX industry?

In the latest crusade against porn, an unlikely candidate has emerged: British actor/comedian/aspiring political commentator Russell Brand. In Brand’s words, “There's a general feeling, isn’t there? In your core, if you look at pornography, this isn’t what’s the best thing for me to do, this isn’t the best use of my time now.”

Funny, Russell Brand, this also describes the way I feel after playing an hour of Candy Crush. It's one of those games that sucks me in with its colorful little gems, teasing me with a near win. I'm always just one game away from the next, almost unbeatable level. I try not to play in public, secretly ashamed of what I’m doing. Worse, I’ll even admit to buying extra moves here and there. It’s not an addiction per se, but nothing I’m particularly proud of. And it’s certainly not the best use of my time, but I wouldn’t condemn it because I believe in taking responsibility for my choices.

Even if you haven’t seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall or Get Him to the Greek, you may recall Russell Brand’s name splashed across a plethora of tabloid headlines as Katy Perry’s ex-husband. In the past, Brand has used his notoriety and beguiling Britishness to sorta push for political change, publicly lambast bankers, and now, to denounce porn—which he did last week on his unfiltered web series, The Trews. Brand tags the show as “the true news so you don't have to invest any money in buying newspapers that charge you for the privilege of keeping your conscience imprisoned in a tiny box of ignorance and lies.”

While Brand has some interesting things to say, this particular rant feels more like a case of a guilty conscience. In his autobiography My Booky Wook, Brand wrote about losing his virginity at 17 to a bevy of Filipino prostitutes—flanked by his father (and sans protection). He’s a self-described “sexy narcissist” who, in 2005, checked himself into a sexual addiction treatment center in Philadelphia. He’s also reportedly boasted of sleeping with over 2,000 women, and has even spoken out against the condom mandate in porn, saying, “That's going to take the fun out of it. One of the many highlights of being in the porn industry is unprotected sex!”

Yes, Brand is a celebrity who not only admits to voraciously consuming porn, but has now publicly blamed it for his own limitations. It's not his fault he objectifies women. He also cannot be held responsible for abandoning monogamy. Porn apparently encourages promiscuity, too. And he cannot wait to tell you all about it. High on his celebrity soapbox, using the Internet megaphone, Brand casts hilarious blame not unto himself, but onto porn. Porn is bad because, according to Brand, “Our attitudes towards sex have become warped and perverted.”

While there is plenty of extreme adult content floating around out there, like any entertainment medium, it is ridiculous to lump all of porn into one category. There is plenty of romantically-tinged erotica out there too—all you have to do is search (you know, look away from the hard stuff). And isn’t that more a question of personal sexual appetite? Of free will? Legendary pornographer Holly Randall creates the kind of porn Brand gives no credit to. “I really like shooting real-life couples because obviously there is a level of love and intimacy there and its the entire crux of my Playboy TV show Adult Film School, which is about real-life couples who want to do a sexual fantasy video,” says Randall. “Even when I do shoot professionals, when I shoot boy/girl, I always, always let the girl choose who she wants to work with. I want that chemistry.”

Randall admits that on a personal level, there are certain types of pornography that make her cringe, and yet she believes in their right to exist due to freedom of expression. She works hard to produce female-friendly content that “glorifies women, their sexuality and their beauty.” When it comes to objectifying women, Randall sees mainstream media as the culprit. “Advertising and fashion magazines show unrealistic bodies and women who don’t age, hiring 14-year-olds to model clothes marketed towards 35-year-olds. If anything, porn embraces women with different body types.”

Plenty of men (and women) consume porn in a responsible way, deriving pleasure from erotic media without adverse consequences. In fact, according to a recent study, 66 percent of American men (and 41 percent of American women) check out porn at least once a month, and an estimated 50 percent of overall Internet traffic deals with sex. Most men I know watch porn and many of them are in committed, healthy relationships. They aren’t blaming adult entertainment for their shortcomings, whereas Brand, instead of finding fault with himself, criticizes porn for its bad influence. He's just the victim. Obviously.

Maybe porn isn’t the culprit here. Perhaps this latest anti-porn crusade reflects Brand’s true struggle with accountability. “On some level I can relate to him,” says Holly Randall. “It’s no secret that he’s had addiction problems. I think his situation where he is blaming porn for his sex addiction, that's like me if I blame alcohol for my addiction problems. It’s no secret either that I am a recovering alcoholic, that’s a demon I have to deal with. So for him to lump porn into this category of destroying America and destroying his relationships and his situation with promiscuity, that says more about him and his issues than it does about porn.”