British rock star Elton John ended his whirlwind tour of Taiwan unrepentant about calling the local media "rude, vile pigs." John had been caught unprepared at Taipei airport on Thursday when he emerged from a lift before passing immigration only to be greeted by a solid wall of flashing cameras. Many countries do not allow media into restricted areas, but Taiwan reporters, notorious for aggressively chasing celebrities, can obtain special passes for the Taipei airport. "The television [reporters] and photographers at the airport were the rudest people that I've ever met, and I've been to 60 countries," John, 57, told fans at a concert on Thursday. "You know it. They are a disgrace to your country. They shouldn't be allowed access to people just getting off planes like that," he said, sitting behind a piano in a bright purple shirt, dark blazer, and his trademark matching sunglasses. Television crew and photographers had waited for John outside an elevator in the restricted area of the Taipei airport, where the local media usually greet celebrities. But John lost his temper when he saw them. "Rude, vile pigs!" he shouted at the photographers, kept at bay by bodyguards who surrounded the star. "Do you know what that means? Rude, vile pigs. That's what all of you are." The journalists were bemused. "He looked very unhappy and started cursing at us when the elevator doors opened. We were only doing our job and had no idea why he was so angry," said one photographer at the scene.
It was not the first time Western entertainers have been shocked by the aggressive Taiwan media. British singer Robbie Williams was chased through the airport terminal when he arrived for a concert in 2001. In 2003, Corsican singer Alizée had to hide in a bathroom to evade reporters--she canceled her schedule the next day and returned to France. The news about John's outburst was splashed over local newspapers on Friday and debated in Internet chat rooms. "Go back home, English pig," said an Internet user named ibookboy2000. "Everyone should stop buying his albums." Others were more sympathetic. "Taiwan media basically have no manners," a user called Boki_ng said. "No matter who he is, he still is an ordinary person and is entitled to his privacy."