Sacha Baron Cohen is an absolute genius. He has confronted the world with its most shameful prejudices that makes it recoil in fear and disgust. This is the reaction he wants.
Some people appreciate Baron Cohen for his actual humour and — while he is hilarious — they often fail to recognize that the intentions behind it are far more serious and focused than the characters he portrays.
Through his characters he has successfully captured the deepest and most extreme forms of homophobia, religious fanaticism, ignorance, intolerance and general hatred.
Not only has he successfully achieved this with Americans, but with Canadians as well. I recently had to explain to someone who got half an hour into Borat and turned it off that Baron Cohen and his assistant were the only real actors in the film. Everyone else’s opinions and reactions were genuine.
I also overheard a conversation with someone telling another person that they shouldn’t “waste their time” seeing Borat or Brüno because of their crude and offensive content, illustrating the resistance people feel towards the films.
While the films are at some moments unsettling, I would hope that most viewers would have the common sense to see the intention behind the films and recognize its importance in understanding their own intolerance. People’s reactions to the films are similar to the 18th century reaction to Swift’s A Modest Proposal. People are outraged.
The same sort of people also believe Stephen Colbert to be a hard core Republican.
Satire dates back thousands of years yet, in 2009, people are still not getting it.
While many scenes in Brüno were extremely shocking, the most disturbing dealt with parents desperate to get their children famous (spoiler alert).
In one of the interviews Bruno asks a mother if her child would be able to lose weight for a photo shoot. To further that notion he also asked, if the child were unable to lose the weight, if the child be okay with undergoing liposuction. All the parents complied and said that they would take whatever measures necessary.
Their children were not even three years old.
I found this to be the most disturbing part of the film: real people exploiting their children for fame and fortune.
Sacha Baron Cohen has successfully revealed the most shocking realities of today’s culture and those who cannot stomach the movies themselves should try to recognize this.
For those of you who have seen Borat, Brüno and Ali G Indahouse and laughed your asses off, I commend you. However, I hope you laugh with the knowledge that there is a much deeper intention than simply entertaining millions of people.