BRUNO Pre-Show

Sacha Baron Cohen is an extraordinary performer (although “performer” doesn’t begin to describe what he does).  He’s phenomenal at creating and inhabiting his characters, and his fearlessness is breathtaking.  Borat was hilarious, but the pressure to create a laugh-a-minute spectacle and the elaborate nature of the set ups may have prevented audiences who are not familiar with Baron Cohen’s other work (specifically, his HBO series Da Ali G Show and his prior incarnation on BBC television) from fully appreciating what his characters can reveal.

I say this because there are actually three levels to what Baron Cohen does with his characters (each of whom is a feared outsider – the urban youth, the immigrant, the queer).  The trouble with Borat (which made me laugh harder than any movie I’ve ever seen) is that it’s so successful in hitting the first two levels (the outlandish behavior of the character, and the shocked-or-shocking reactions of the marks) that it was easy to miss the third level (which is the most important).  Level three is simply the truth of the situation itself, where each interviewee is confronted with a character who is a clown of a caricature of a stereotype, and if you believe that this person is real?  Then you have already lost the game no matter what you say.  This is exemplified perfectly in this clip from Da Ali G Show, where Ali G interviews Newt Gingrich about the risks inherent in election of a woman president. The beauty of the clip is that Gingrich is being baited with sexist jokes – and he resists, such that you can tell that he thinks he’s just nailing the interview…  but we can see that by accepting the reality of the interview in the first place, he’s revealing uglier aspects of his own ignorance than he would had he just gone along with the gag.

Check it:

So, while I’m actively refusing to read any reviews or watch any promotional clips from Bruno (I am keen to remain entirely unspoiled for what is almost certain to be the last such film from Baron Cohen) I do have fond hopes that the over the top gay panic humor promised by the preview won’t be the only type of scene that addresses American homophobia.  I also hope that the other functions of the Bruno character as he was deployed in the HBO series made it into the film.

Fashion / Social Class:

Media Criticism:

Anyhow – Bruno drops Friday!  Who wants to go?

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