Thursday, July 08, 2010

Bruno and Borat

While I can buy the comments that Bruno and Borat were made to "highlight their prejudices" - especially commonly mentioned about "middle America" or whatnot, there were only a few notable scenes that really conveyed this in both films. The guy at the rodeo who they captured on camera making racist and bigoted comments is one of the few genuine moments of the film.

The problem is, even when he was able to pull a fast one on someone and get them to say something bigoted, racist, or sexist, a lot of coaxing was needed to get them to that point. The college students they got liquored up started playing loose with their tongues is one of those situations that took a lot of work to get them to "show their true colors."

In some cases this "experiment" backfired. It took Cohen to defecate in a bag and bring a prostitute to the house to drive the people who had been *very* accommodating and respectful to Borat all evening at the dinner party to finally kick him out. Even with what I suspect is creative editing, it wasn't until he started singing the fake Kazakhstan National Anthem (long after he butchered the US National Anthem) before the crowd erupted in boos.

Some other instances didn't really show a particular group in a bad light, but was there to make fun of said group. For instance the Evangelical Church was accepting of Borat, they welcomed him in, were kind to him and apparently even helped him get out to where he needed to go (or so the story claimed). In turn, audience members mocked the guy "speaking in tongues" and labeled them all as idiotic and insensitive as the a$$hole at the rodeo.

All in all I enjoyed Borat the first few times I saw it, though it grows incredibly old after numerous re-watching. I was only really surprised with the *reaction* and opinions some people took away from the film.

I however, can't say the same about the 81 minute feature film, Bruno. That film was made to shock and offend first, entertain last. People are thrown into situations with a character so over-the-top and offensive that there's little recourse but to become offended or angered by what he says or by his outrageous actions. The Borat character was naive enough that you could write off quite a bit of his behavior - that he was unaware of the impact of his words. Bruno came off as more of a twit that performed reckless and criminal behavior, not because he was naive or unaware, but because he was amoral and didn't give a rip about anyone or anything around him. It dawned on me that people who were in the presence of the Cohen-as-Bruno *knew* he was "reckless" and not just ignorant.

And that's where Bruno failed where Borat succeeded. Now I just wish that people who like Borat realized exactly who the distasteful people in that film are.

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