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This here is a low traffic blog on topics close to my heart. As such, comments and engagement on old posts are always welcome and will be responded to. Except! for comments on old posts telling me to lighten up, not take things so seriously, or let things go, 'cause that shit's just plain ironic. Those comments will get a suggestion to visit Derailing for Dummies.

Friday, June 19, 2009

An Open Letter to Sascha Baron Cohen

Mr. Cohen,

We need to have words. Namely we need to talk about this "humor" of yours. Mr. Cohen, I've heard somewhere that the humor in your movies is in showing the bigotry in seemingly otherwise nice individuals. That the point of Borat is to show hidden racism and the point of Bruno is to show hidden homophobia.

Mr. Cohen, give me 10 minutes and the internet and I promise I can show you all the bigotry you want. Here, an example: by Womanist Musings, an article about two separate cases of latino men who were attacked by otherwise "nice" people. One of them is dead. In both cases the perpetrators got off with a laughable sentence.
Perhaps if you're in the mood, you can scroll down to the comments where I talk about the recent case in Massachusetts where 4 queer friends were attacked by a group of men who screamed "die faggot" at them and beat and kicked one of them unconcious, and left another also with brain damage. In case you're wondering, the only man charged with the crime will never serve time because the judge decided to give him probation. Mr. Cohen, is that hilarious enough for you?

Or, in case those are too far removed, too distant for you, I can tell you about some things I know personally. I know personally that as a queer youth, I was subject to the most hilarious situation when I was basically told by a lady in a restaurant that my affectionate kiss of my partner was X-rated. We were told to not kiss in front of her kid. Perhaps you could put that in your next movie meant to show exactly how funny bigots are.
Or maybe, you'd like to talk to an acquaintance of mine who had the hilarious experience of having someone she thought of as a friend cross the street to get away from her. See, it was halloween, and she's black and she was dressed as a man. HILARIOUS huh? I mean, you can't MAKE SHIT LIKE THIS UP, it's just SOOO GOOD when you realize that people you know and thought of as friends apparently find your race terrifying.

So basically Mr. Cohen, if you want to show homophobia and racism, you actually don't need to get dressed up in characters. All you need to do to find hilarious bigotry is follow around someone who is actually a target of it. And if you want to show how bigoted other people are, you DEFINITELY don't need to do it in supposedly "funny" characters.

Actually, come to think of it, I'm not sure I think bigotry is all that funny.

Maybe that's your problem.

The Deviant E


  1. I just watched a trailer, and I'm pretty disgusted. I really feel bad judging the entire movie just based on the trailer, but I don't think I could, in good conscience, pay for a ticket.

  2. Nobody thinks bigotry is funny... but that's no reason not to make fun of bigots. they're morons and anyone who works against the morons should be our ally regardless of how they do it.

  3. How exactly does Borat make fun of racists? How will Bruno make fun of homophobes?

    When people leave the movie theater quoting outrageous and fucked up things, will they be quoting what the bigots say, or will they be quoting Mr. Cohen's character? Because I know from past experience, that they come out quoting the fictional caricature.

    The way to make fun of bigots is not to play into their stereotypes. In the new Bruno movie there is apparently a scene where he sneaks into the tent of someone and basically molests them. Explain to me exactly two things: if someone reacts poorly because someone breaks into their tent and molests them, how is this homophobic? and if it is homophobic, how exactly is watching this take place fighting it?

    If the point is truly to uncover bigotry, then my post stands, you just DON'T NEED to dress up as a "funny" character to get people to behave in bigoted ways. However, if Mr. Cohen's point is to have us point and laugh at the antics of Bruno and Borat (which demonstrably it is, considering the last movie, the outrageous things the Borat character said, and the recent publicity stunt which was, again, about the outrageous things that Bruno did), then it instead mocks those of us who actually live our lives as the REAL target of bigotry.

    How is that helpful?

  4. I think it is possible to use humor to expose bigotry, and that doing so can be very effective. But I agree with you that Mr. Cohen isn't very successful in doing that—and he's far too successful at using bigotry as humor for my comfort.


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