Well, sort of maybe not, but also kind of yes. I generally enjoyed the film and feel Sacha Baron Cohen comes from the same school as Mel Brooks, one where you deflate a stereotype by embracing it so hard it bursts. I also feel that, while in the old days I was railing at damaging LGBT portrayals in Silence of the Lambs and Basic Instinct, nowadays there are way more representations out there, and at least this one is wildly sexual, as opposed to all the bland, sexless gay stereotypes you usually see. So while Bruno has a mildly sour quality that’s hard to shake, it also ends up being very gay positive, so I say see it and learn.
And now, let me remind you of my remarks in the current column:
“Making Bruno a lousy parent who uses his African-American baby as a dick magnet is an uncomfortable choice–then again, Borat was intimate with his prostie sister–but the movie ends up being a putdown of the ex-gay movement and a celebration of male bondage, I mean bonding, so you’ll probably be head-uber-heels about the message.
“By the way, the LaToya Jackson scene was snipped ‘out of respect for the Jackson family,’ so now we know exactly where Sacha Baron Cohen draws the line. (Interestingly, Universal refused GLAAD’s plea to trim a shot of Bruno with the baby in a sex-filled hot tub, but caved in to Jackson family values.) It’s too bad because it was the one celeb cameo where I thought the person might really have been punk’d (unlike the Ron Paul bit, which is funny nonetheless): It had Bruüno taunting LaToya by asking her to act more like Michael, as if that were possible. Now that it’s been sliced off like a famous nose, LaToya gets overshadowed by her brother one more time.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 10, 2009