- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2009

MTV has announced that Russell Brand, the long-maned British shock comedian who stirred things up at the Video Music Awards show last year when he insulted the Jonas Brothers, then-President George W. Bush and others, will be back to host the 2009 program.

The decision makes business sense for the network, which saw the ratings for its trademark awards show climb last year compared to the two previous years: Ratings in the 12-to-34 demographic were up 15 percent over 2007 and 41 percent over 2006. The 7.4 rating of 2008’s show in the demo was good for 12 million 12-to-34-year-old viewers. The 2008 show was the highest-rated program in that demographic for the year on cable.

Needless to say, conservative groups were not thrilled by the news.

“MTV choosing Russell Brand to host the Video Music Awards again shows the lengths that Hollywood will go to in trashing traditional values at every chance they get,” said Colleen Raezler, a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute.

Mr. Brand’s take on the award show - which was not exactly known for staid glamour or boring stuffiness before Mr. Brand’s turn as host - was a shocking affair. He called out the Jonas Brothers - a trio of clean-cut, home-schooled Christian musicians - for wearing purity rings.

“I’m beginning to wonder if the Jonas Brothers aren’t quite what they seem,” he joked, holding up a ring while doing a stand-up segment in between presenters. “If they were, how come I’ve got this little ring now? I mean, initially he was a little reluctant, but eventually he saw it was for the best.”

Offended on their behalf, teen singer Jordin Sparks took to the stage and said, “It’s not bad to wear a promise ring because not everybody, guy or girl, wants to be a slut.”

Miss Sparks later said she regretted the tone of her comments, if not the substance.

Perhaps realizing he had stepped over the line, Mr. Brand returned to the stage and clarified his remarks. He then dug himself in deeper by saying, “A bit of sex occasionally never hurt anybody.”

Sex wasn’t the only subject Mr. Brand broached: He also injected himself into politics during the height of the presidential campaign.

“Please, America: Elect Barack Obama. On behalf of the world,” he said during the September broadcast, later describing then-President Bush as “that retarded cowboy fella” who wouldn’t be “trusted with a pair of scissors” in England, his home country.

Not yet done, Mr. Brand compared Britney Spears and her career renaissance to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“They’re always going to be about shocking people and always going to be about controversy,” said Miss Raezler about the entertainment industry’s decision to embrace Mr. Brand and his antics.

MTV did not respond to requests for comment.

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