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Life after Brüno

July 13, 2009

From Slate:

After Brüno, Hollywood depictions of gays may never be the same. That’s a good thing.

Love it or hate it, Brüno confirms Sacha Baron Cohen’s gift for sniffing out cultural landmines—and his corresponding willingness to walk right over them. The British comic anarchist’s latest piece of daredevil performance art is another Tocquevillian trip through the American psyche, this time in the company of a flaming Austrian fashionpolizei and fame whore. Just as the Anti-Defamation League expressed concern over the anti-anti-Semitic humor of Borat, gay rights groups like the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign have questioned the wisdom and taste of Brüno’s full-frontal assault on homophobia: Does the movie send up stereotypes or perpetuate them? Who’s the joke on? Who’s the joke meant for? What if they don’t get it?

but The Nation asks:

What does this all prove? Perhaps the ultimate discovery of Brüno is that the world is a tolerant, commodious, even benevolent place for strange fruits. Or perhaps the camera actually functions as a civilizing instrument, one that puts straight white men on their best behavior, unlike the infantilizing effect it apparently has on the cougars of Real Housewives. Or perhaps Cohen really intended to make a film about the banality of tolerance, satirizing not homophobia or homosexuals, but the squirm-inducing ways in which people strive to accept others against their baser instincts and, in some cases, their better judgment.

And you?

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