Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Bruno" sticks it to/in the man

With the Dog Days of Hockey Summer (aka the news-less abyss) rapidly approaching, we decided that Sunday will be a day of non-hockey talk at CLS. So every week until things start picking up, we'll discuss a movie/TV show/bit of pop culture that is either especially relevant or culturally necessary. Hopefully you'll enjoy these and maybe find new things to watch and enjoy.

Let's face it: America really isn't a place where rebellion is in the air anymore.

Honestly, the only hints of revolution come in the forms of Internet technology - but we all know the WWW mainly exists for porn and pirating software. A lot of cranky, bi-focaled people will point to some kind of generational drop-off in human quality, but they are as wrong as the parents who tired to obstruct Elvis were wrong.

We aren't "The Greatest Generation" because a lot of the BIG wars already were waged. Racism may always exist, but at least we can all share the same disease-infested water fountains. Unpopular wars keep happening, but lazy college-aged kids don't have to worry about being drafted. Aside from electronic music and heavy sampling, it seems like complaining about the lack of originality in music is both accurate and unfair: can you imagine what the "next big thing" could even sound like?

If you want to look at how rebel-less our peers are, just look at the so-formulaic-it-could-be-synthesized-into-a-paste nature of what is supposed to pass as "punk rock" today.


Indeed, the obvious battles were fought by previous generations (not to say that all of them were definitively "won" or "lost"). Instead, our greatest war is a social war. When historians and sociologists look back at the '00 era, they will look at gay rights with the same stunned shame that we now look at segregation.

The inherent ignorance of gay bashing and homophobia is, in other words, the Elephant in the Room of our time.

We cannot say that these were the first thoughts that came to mind when we witnessed the hysterical/shocking onslaught of male genitalia that is "Bruno." Perhaps shocking might not be the best choice of words: "Borat" set the obvious template for Sacha Baron Cohen's ballsy, confrontational, Tom-Green-plus-brains shtick. In many ways, Bruno was only different from Borat in a way that changing nouns, verbs and adjectives can alter the way a person experiences Mad Libs.

Yet Bruno becomes an interesting social experiment when it is experienced in a packed house, especially in the more "conservative" venues in America. Some of the film's most haunting/memorable/laugh-inducing moments come when Cohen bamboozles a meat head-laden crowd into witnessing graphic homosexual content under the guise of a mixed martial arts event*.

* - It's probably a coincidence, but hats off to premiering the film during the same weekend as UFC 100.

We can assume that there will be many outraged audience members across America (not surprisingly, we saw quite a few people leave the movie). Sad to say, there are many people who would wear a "My asshole is only for shitting" T-shirt without even the slightest hint of irony. All one needs to understand this issue is to watch the senseless barrage of beer, debris and even chairs that cascade upon Cohen and his submissive assistant once the crowd of dentally challenged people realize they had been duped.

That - and not side splitting hilarity - is the reason that Bruno might be a vaguely important film.


Joe said...

Me and my partner were discussing this at work the other day, about Bruno. Personally, I loved Borat. I loved the Borat sketches on the Ali G show (though I wasn't too into the show as a whole), and I thought the movie was great. That said, I think Bruno looks absolutely retarded. And I think that a lot of what it comes down to is the originality of the characters in question.

Bruno is the pinnacle of stereotypically gay guy. That's been done. Stereotypically black guy, asian guy, gay guy, whatever, they've been done and aren't nearly as interesting. Borat was from friggin Kazakhstan! It was a blank slate, because no one knows shit about Kazakhstan. He could go in any outrageous direction he wanted, and it wasn't something that had already been done.

Furthermore, in the interviews for Borat, Cohen talked a lot about how part of the point of these characters is that you can get people to believe and accept some pretty unbelievable things, which is just sad, and maybe more entertaining, you can get people to say some pretty stupid shit too. Borat was so strange that it was able to accomplish this aim a lot better, but stereotypical gay guy isn't gonna be able to have the same success.

Also, what in the hell is "The Greatest Generation"? I thought that was supposed to be my parents or something, wasn't it? I've never heard our generation (you're only a couple years older than me, and I think I'm actually older than I am) referred to by that name. I don't think anyone is calling us youngsters the greatest because we're too busy with porn and stealing music and watching internet videos of girls being fucked by horses or people getting their heads chopped off to possibly constitute the greatest generation, or maybe even a generally good one.

jamestobrien said...

The Greatest Generation reference was to WWII-era people. What I was trying to say is that a lot of the negativity thrown our way (or the way of Generation X or Baby Boomers) is really silly because ultimately it's all contextual.

Bruno the character is cliched as hell, but it's what happens IN the movie that makes it interesting (as well as how audiences react). When I saw the Bruno previews, I rolled my eyes but it's funny if nothing else.

Slate features a great write-up on Bruno and how gays have been portrayed in film:

Joe said...

Oh. Well yeah, to hell with the old folks.

I don't doubt that parts of the movie are funny. When I saw the "I gave him a traditional African name... OJ!" thing on TV, I cracked up. But so much of it is cliched gay guy stuff, that I couldn't get myself to spend 2 hours watching it.

jamestobrien said...

When it's funny, it's HYSTERICAL. I think Borat is better overall, but Bruno might have the biggest "peaks." You should give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Straight Dave approves of this post.