Monday, July 13, 2009

Bruno is Pretty Hilarious

I saw it over the weekend and had some laughs. Not as funny as Borat but I guess if your taste runs in this direction that’s pretty hard to top. Bruno often skewers American culture and takes on just about everyone in this celebrity-obsessed, moralizing nation of ours. Sometimes successfully, sometime not, Sasha Baron Cohen attempts to pierce through attitudes around sex and sexuality, and obviously homosexuality. All of the people Bruno challenges are heterosexual – he comes in contact with no open gays beyond those who are part of his coterie – and ultimately he’s challenging them on their prudishness, their bias, their faux-liberated sexuality and/or their moralizing and their hypocrisies about their privileged ideas regarding parenting and what constitutes a family. His goal as always is to shock sensibilities even if it makes you wince a few times as you guffaw. He has an interaction with an “ex-gay” that is particularly comical.

As for the extreme stereotype of the sex-crazed, hyper-effeminate, totally superficial gay man, I think people are overly worried about this. Bruno is an overblown amalgam of so many people we know -- including perhaps ourselves -- who are alternately charming, annoying and over-the-top, but who often get their way because they have balls. Unlike other scenarios involving these kinds of stereotyped gay characters in pop culture's history, the joke’s not on Bruno in the end, but rather on everyone else. In this way Bruno reminded me of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde – a woman whose shopping-obsessed, spoiled-brat persona would make any feminist cringe, but who ultimately triumphs in the end, beating out the men and having fun doing it. Perhaps not the most progressive way to make a point, but it’s a comedy. Have a few laughs.