This guest review of the movie Brüno featuring Sacha Baron Cohen is by Kevin McLoughlin, a Senior in Spanish at the University of Illinois who believes that seeing Brüno is going to destroy any German he actually remembers.
To All the Fags in Arkansas (A Brüno Review) by Kevin McLoughlin
There’s really no way to begin any sort of commentary on Brüno without addressing the righteous indignation that the gay blogosphere has been stoking since the movie was first announced.
Yes, it was offensive. Sacha Baron Cohen, of “the running of the Jews” fame, made an offensive movie.
I hope you were seated when you read that.
Of course Brüno is a stereotype, a piecemeal assemblage of all of the Jacks, Queers as Folk, RuPauls, Queer Eyes, et all who’ve sauntered across our small and large screens over the past decade. This was necessary for Cohen to actually have a movie; a woman could never outrage apple pie Americans by being a materialistic, self-objectifying bitch (they’d just give her a reality show), so I doubt a straight-acting gay lawyer in a polo and khakis could so raise societal hackles by flashing billfold pictures of his 2.3 kids sporting Webelos badges.
Brüno needed to be a fashionista to snark at supermodels bemoaning the difficulties of walking as a career; a wretched parent to expose a woman ready to give her toddler liposuction; and really fucking ballsy to tell a (very real and very live - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/07/sacha-baron-cohen-on-lett_n_227465.html) terrorist that “King Osama” looks like “a homeless Santa Claus.”
Evidently, Cohen’s got all of America’s unsavory cultural baggage in his cross-hairs. After a montage of anal sex stunts we’re sure to see repeated on XTube, barely focuses on his sexuality until the second half.
He does indeed expose (and eviscerate) both homo-reformists and schmucks who wear “my asshole is only for shitting” shirts, but he never touted himself as the archangel of the gay rights movement. While Snoop Dogg’s “He’s gay… okay” ending assures us of Cohen’s place on the political spectrum, I’d bet he finds indignant LGBTA people pretty amusing, though probably not so much as an indignant Ron “We the People Act” Paul narrowly evading molestation.
It seems like Cohen’s main goal was to show you that he would, indeed, go There. Social commentary and even humor are often lost in squirming shock; Brüno was meant to be watched between your fingers.
Will there be outrage in response to this film? Well, yes. No one likes being made fun of. However, I can’t see this movie inciting a retaliatory rash of hate crimes, and it’s certainly not a “swishy step backwards” for the gay rights movement. The sort of people bound to be deeply offended by this are hardly itching to take the federal government to court over DOMA, so we’re not losing any fans there.
As far as positive impacts, Brüno tells us very little that we aren’t already painfully aware of. While even the film’s publicity (http://gawker.com/5310095/magazine-newsstands-hos-before-brunos?skyline=true&s=x) demonstrates our society’s hypocrisy towards those who turn their backs (or thong-cleft asses) on our treasured and tedious gender roles, I think such a message is inevitably lost on those who need to hear it most.
Perhaps some of the guys in the crowd, the ones yelling “Whoa! Dude!” whenever butt fucking was addressed (yet, awesomely, both paying for and applauding Brüno’s midnight showing!), saw the abyss staring back at them during the climactic ‘cage fight,’ but the Queer community is well acquainted with the willfully and obstinately primitive attitudes Cohen documents.
If we, as a community, must take something from this movie, why can’t it be the simple pleasure of seeing stupidity dragged squalling into the limelight? Why not celebrate the fact that someone saw fit to tell a gay reformist that he has DSLs (that's dick-sucking-lips to the neophyte), and to needle at U.S. military machismo with crisply delivered fashion tips?
At the very least, I admire Cohen for pursuing the art of mockery with the kind of dumbfounding bravery we haven’t seen since the Crocodile Hunter, and for his dogged refusal to take anything seriously.