Bruno (Thoughts On)

Gawker, of all places, today offers a great post inspired by (in reaction to) that wonderful, gut-burstingly hilarious Bruno stunt on heterosexualist jag Eminem. (Video here)

Its worth reading in full, but to highlight, the question is reduced to: Is Bruno good because

If ten yukking teenage boys go to see the movie and four emerge thinking “Hey, maybe it is really dumb to dislike people just ’cause they’re gay,” then that’s four minds changed. Sure the six others still remain, but it’s a step in the right, weary direction for the war of attrition. That Sacha Baron Cohen, the man behind the hotpants, does play fast and loose and over-the-top with stereotypes is just the sort of agitprop tool that effective satire has to use, right? Something subtle and ruminative won’t, by and large, have the same impact

Or problematic because

the Bruno character isn’t so much debunking the stereotypes and peccadilloes of Gay People as it is just making it easier, more appropriate, codified almost, for people to laugh at them. Doesn’t a movie like Bruno kind of, for those who want to see it that way, reinforce an idea that gay men are silly, frivolous, outrageous mincers who are vain and shallow at best and sex-crazed and oblivious at worst?

Personal take: remember the hysteria PC institutions like the ADL over Borat singing songs like “take the Jew by the horns?” saying that those of us with eyes to see can recognize the satire but many just sing along, joyfully reinforcing stereotypes? This is the same lineage of those who worried about the bad taste (!) of Swift’s endorsement of cannibalism. Satire exaggerates and in so doing reflects back so many of our own absurdities. Plus – bonus! is funny. To worry about people “not getting it” is a dash of arrogance, isn’t it, and besides, clearly something like Bruno nudges humor that would have been unthinkable into the warm embrace of that most coveted demographic: the teenage male mainstream – and isn’t that not just funny, but good?

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