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Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno offends gay rights groups

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  1. Admittedly Sacha Baron Cohen often sails close to the wind in terms of PC by playing Bruno as a feckless OTT stereotype camper than a row of tents, but I think the overriding concept of the movie is to expose the deeply entrenched homophobia that can still be found all over the USA and indeed the world.
    As such I don’t have a major problem with it.
    I can take a certain amount on the chin (as did Eminem at the MTV awards!).

  2. I can see how a film like this could make people homophobic, more so however why are they going to see it in the first place. the more people complain the more he’s doing his job right. i think it will be silly but i will prob like it.

  3. Heaven I’ve spent year trying to educate the family that we are not all like John Inman, not that’s there is anything wrong in being camp.

    When this trailer was shown at the local cinema last week there was a group of morons shouting out batty boy. I’m ashamed to say I sat there and said nothing.


  4. Lee – I grant you this much, it would be nice to see more gay roles in movies that weren’t uber-camp (in mainstream movies rather than fringe arthouse flicks), but then there are guys out there who do conform to the stereotype.
    I guess the other grey area is would his antics have been more acceptable if Bruno had been played by a genuine gay guy? It’s not like there’s a shortage of gay actors out there, it’s just that few of the out and proud ones seem to get their careers off the ground in Hollywood, and gay roles are often taken by straight actors.
    In a perverse way, maybe that’s the message that Cohen is trying to give us, i.e. scratch the surface of America and homophobia is alive and well. Whether he’s a help or a hinderance is a moot point.

  5. Monkeychops 16 Jun 2009, 12:37pm

    I don’t remotely identify with the character at all, but then I wouldn’t relate to most other film characters either – as a viewer you are there to observe most of the time, not identify. It’s provocative, sure, but he’s really just making fun of ignorant people. It’s clearly rather tacky too, but I wouldn’t consider it homphobic. After all, everyone on here must know a guy that reminds them of Bruno. It will probably attract hate and praise in equal measure, but it will at least bring up the debate amongst ordinary Americans. It’s time that was had.

    Lee – why be ashamed you said nothing? There’s standing up for a cause and then there’s putting your life at risk. Sounds selfish, but you don’t have to deal with thugs through violence as they do, only engage with them when they join you in a real debating arena. I wouldn’t take on a gang of thugs – especially when they would outnumber me. Don’t feel bad, what could you have done that wouldn’t have made the consequences worse for you?

  6. Simon Murphy 16 Jun 2009, 12:49pm

    “Baron Cohen has said the character of Bruno, dressed in string vests and leather underwear, is intended to expose hypocrisy by using gay stereotypes.”

    I wonder how Cohen as a Jewish man would feel to have a muslim comic attempting to expose hypocrisy by using jewish stereotypes.

    Cohen himself may be OK with that but the jewish community at large would be rightly furious.

    Yet another double standard exposing the fact that homophobia is always acceptable in our culture. You just need to pretend you’re being ironic to get away with it.

  7. Now I think about it, there is another big Summer Blockbuster release this year featuring an elderly gay Headmaster (recently outed) mentoring one of his pupils (you know, the one with a lightning shaped scar on his forehead!) so I guess we’re getting quite a range of role models to choose from at the moment.

  8. I have to say I see both sides of the argument.

  9. I was waiting to see how long it would be before the Faggot Police jumped on it. As Ali G Baron-Cohen was a middle class Jewish guy, playing an Asian, pretending to be Black. For some bizarre reason all the blacks kicked off at this apparent racism. The whole point is, it is *satire*. It is MEANT to take the obvious stereotypes and blow them up to emphasise a character. Bruno is just like so many mincing label queens out there in Compton-land.

    Incidentally, Lee, I wonder what your cinema-going associates would have done had it been a Will Smith movie and you shouted “Nigger”?
    The fact it is a send up of gay people is irrelevant, Baron-Cohen is taking the piss out of people not being able to cope with his character’s outrageous gay behaviour, not out of gays themselves. If people can’t cope with it, it is not our problem, it is theirs.

  10. I’m split on this one. I pissed myself at Ali G, Borat and even Bruno when he was a minor character on ‘Da Ali G Show’; so it would be very, very hypocritical of me to criticise him now.

    In saying that, if I was a black person (or an Asian person who has embraced ‘black’ culture – to use the term loosely) I don’t know how I’d feel about Ali G. Same as if I was a Kazakh, or from some other place like that, would I laugh?

    I know for a fact that a lot of black and Asian people in London especially were offended by Ali G. Whereas even the Kazakh Government got involved with the whole Borat thing.

    So yeah be offended if it’s really that bad. But at the same time you should be able laugh at yourself!

    So on that note maybe it’s time for Sacha Baron Cohen to do a stereotypical Jewish character? If you can dish it out, take it aswell!.

  11. Dermot Carter 16 Jun 2009, 1:43pm

    “Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” – Dame Edna

  12. Ryan Haynes - fyi radio 16 Jun 2009, 2:54pm

    I walk down Soho street and see plenty of Bruno’s – what’s so wrong with it…in fact it’s quite spot on.

  13. Simon Murphy 16 Jun 2009, 3:17pm

    RonN – seeing as you vote for the BNP I am surprised to see you defending a jewish comedian? Or do you simply hate gay people more than you hate jewish people? As a facist aren’t you meant to hate both?

  14. Har Davids 16 Jun 2009, 3:23pm

    The Ali G Show was okay for a while, but it all got too predictable in then. The movies are one big yawn with just more of the same.

  15. Hmmmmm….I’m reserving judgement until I see the film. Just from viewing the trailer, I’m ambivalent. I think, in theory, going over the top to show up homophobia would be acceptable, and I hope the film does this successfully rather than just getting cheap laughs at an extreme stereotype.

  16. vulpus_rex 16 Jun 2009, 4:16pm

    If I knew the postal address of some of the humourless, permanently (semi-professionally it sometimes seems) aggrieved and offended people who hang around in here I would send them a bottle of Sarson’s Malt Vinegar for the giant chips on their shoulders.

    I would order a catering sized bottle for Simon Murphy.

  17. Mihangel apYrs 16 Jun 2009, 4:21pm

    nobody has the right not to be offended.

    And SBC has made a career out of sending up everyone, exposing stupidity and hypocricy and bigotry, and making a complete prat of himself while doing it.

    Lighten up: we’ve been laughing at ouselves for years, let’s let a straight ally have a laugh too!

  18. Simon Murphy 16 Jun 2009, 4:26pm

    #16: Vulpus_Rex.

    You are aware that RobN is a BNP supporter?

    Out of curiosity are you also a facist sympathiser?

  19. vulpus_rex 16 Jun 2009, 4:34pm

    Nice try Si!

    However you know very well that I would never vote for a left wing bunch of crypto socialists like the BNP, you’re a socialist you should love them!

    I will gift wrap the vinegar for you BTW.

  20. Iris and Mihangel ap yrs – well said!

    If it’ not really, really offensive (which I doubt it will be) just laugh! :)

  21. Simon Murphy: Nice try, if you think you can turn people against myself and Vulpus Rex by spreading totally false accusations of even vague associations with the BNP, you can fuck right off now.
    I have NEVER supported extremists, and although my politics are right wing and anti-Europe, I certainly do not support racist or homophobic attitudes.

    If you have a comment to make, say it, but instead you demonstrate how low you will sink to get your point across. Typical leftie tactics: don’t show off what you can do, just slag everyone else off, and if that fails, make some bullshit up and badmouth your opponents. I have seen better morals from small damp things living under rocks. As for “defending a Jewish comedian”, I have known Sacha since way before even Ali G.

    Oh, and you don’t need vinegar, you’re the sort of guy that if you sucked on on a lemon, the lemon would go “Eeeww!”

  22. Offended gay transgender 16 Jun 2009, 5:33pm

    Publicly and privately expressed gay jokes are as harmful as black jokes. If you want the full brunt of outrage, do black satire if you aren’t black. I think it will be awhile before we see Sasha Baron Cohen doing blackface dressed like a pimp. The GLBT movement is way too willing to take it on the chin and are going to lose their rights as society points to this kind of satire as an example of what we are like.

  23. “I will gift wrap the vinegar for you BTW.”

    Translation: “I’m a complete bitch who’s as funny as a cot death”

    Get a life, you cretin.

  24. Sacha is taking advantage of gay people, as it’s easy to be really offensive to us (considering everything else minority is off limits!)

    However, his stereotype is both ridiculous, obviously, but the thing that pisses us off is that there’s some truth to the image he portrays (just like Ali G!).

    The central theme – a totally outrageous queen wanting to be cured of homosexuality – is extreme, but highlights the need to see how extreme homosexual ‘cures’ really are. The theme ties the ridiculous stereotyped camp fashion queen with the gay ‘cure’ stuff, just to prove how ridiculous that is in comparison.

    If anybody gay is offended, they are just jumping on the P.C. cry-wagon, which is killing society anyway.

    P.S. When Sacha did Borat, Borat suggested that we burn all jews and homos …. he’s jewish! It’s all a mad send-up, to expose people’s prejudice and extreme views.

    Well done him.

  25. vulpus_rex 16 Jun 2009, 9:25pm

    “Translation: “I’m a complete bitch who’s as funny as a cot death”
    Get a life, you cretin.
    Comment by Rob — June 16, 2009 @ 17:42″

    When I’m getting my life, shall I get you some originality and a mind of your own?

  26. it;s an interesting discussion- it got somewhat messed up because of people throwing mud at eachother. pretty sad. do you guys really think it’s so important to have the last word on some random commentspage, that you want to spoil it for others?

    -back on topic
    but gay rights groups , i’m sad to say tho a good thing in itself are so busy with being serious about themselves they lose all credibility. Who is it about gay rights , or gay rights activists’egoes ?

    think sbc does a great job at showing the hypocrisy . would i want him to do a jew thing?
    i thought the redneck sketches were pretty good (if not a bit shocking), but i think jewish groups are up there with the gay rights activists. It would take a lot of guts to confront them, and i’m pretty sure he could handle them. so maybe.

  27. I’m sure it will be a good laugh. I’m looking forward to this utter nonsense.

  28. “When I’m getting my life, shall I get you some originality and a mind of your own?”

    Oh, no… how wounding! You are JUST too funny!

    Good Lord! Is that the best you can do, another insipidly bitchy remark with all the dept of a road kill? But your knickers back on and get a sense decent of humour, your moron.

  29. vulpus_rex 17 Jun 2009, 9:48am

    “Oh, no… how wounding! You are JUST too funny!”

    Thanks so much!

    When I am looking for my life, do you recommend one like yours that involves nothing more interesting than posting on internet sites at 6:54am?

    I hope you didn’t get up specially early to share your badly typed, misspelling with us.

  30. Yawn.

  31. Linda Barry 17 Jun 2009, 10:06am

    vulpus_rex. Grow up.

  32. Linda Barry. Could you reserve your patronising condescension for people who throw names like moron and cretin around.

    If you think this discussion childish then why did you join it, you might like to practice what you preach.

  33. theotherone 17 Jun 2009, 12:21pm


    no one here has a sence of humor then…

  34. theotherone 17 Jun 2009, 12:30pm

    and I must ask…

    what would constitute an ‘acptable representation’ to some of the people here? A straight acting Poof that nno one but the viewer knew was Gay?

    Bruno may be outragious but then so are alot of Gay men but then the Manistream ‘comunity’ turns it’s back on suck people doesn’t it?

  35. Monkeychops 17 Jun 2009, 12:48pm

    Thetherone – You’ve answered you’re own question I think (maybe without realising it). There is no one type of gay man, but there are dominant types who are more visible. Guys who aren’t camp and who are not easily identified as gay (the identification process being based on the stereotype of gays) blend into the background of society much more eaily and, by and large, wouldn’t get such a hard time. The gay press contradicts itself on the issue of outrageously gay men – on one hand it deplores the stereotyping of us by other communities, but then indulges gratuitously in and celebrates the likes of Boy George, Marilyn, Graham Norton, Duckie, Alan Carr, Danny La Rue…even citing them as part of “gay culture” (still not sure what that is). Until that in-fighting is solved and campery is deemed acceptable or not on a more universal level, then films like Bruno will continue to divide.

  36. I can also see both sides of the argument in this story, but after thinking about it for a bit, I think overall its good that he is using satire to expose homophobic hypocrisy. I looked at some of his clips from the Bruno character in “Da Ali G Show” from a few years ago and came across one where he really showed up an american ex-gay pastor, and the rather shocking clip from Alabama (he was dancing with the cheerleaders during an american football game and got seriously booed by approx.5000 Alabama football fans). In both clips, I found the funny parts to be the homophobes showing themselves up. For example, the ex-gay pastor ended up saying that eating chocolate in the company of gay friends would lead to “homosexual acts being commited”, but that it was OK to eat chocolate in the company of straight christian friends. So yeah, his characters set up the situation, and the bigots walk into the traps.

  37. Simon Murphy 17 Jun 2009, 2:08pm

    #21: RonN: Nice try. However you are lying.

    “I have NEVER supported extremists, and although my politics are right wing and anti-Europe, I certainly do not support racist or homophobic attitudes.”

    But you do Rob. You vote for a racist party and you routinely use homophobic language. You use the word ‘faggot’ as an insult which is the equivalent of the word ‘n*gger’. Despite your claims that you are simply not being PC your true facist colours shine through.

    And how can you claim not to support extremists when the party you vote for is fielding a candidate in a Hove by-election that regards homosexuality as equivalent to paedophilia but your party refuses to suspend him?

    Good rule of thumb. If it looks; walks; talks and smells like a facist then it probably is a facist.

    “If you have a comment to make, say it, but instead you demonstrate how low you will sink to get your point across. Typical leftie tactics: don’t show off what you can do, just slag everyone else off”

    You are joking I hope. You are merely describing your own behaviour. Why are you offended by tactics that you use yourself?
    If i am a ‘typical leftie’ then you are a neo-facist (at least your language and opinions indicate that you are). Why are you pretending you are not when your statements and language speak for themselves?

    “As for “defending a Jewish comedian”, I have known Sacha since way before even Ali G.”

    So what? I suppose some of your best friends are black as well. Doesn’t make you any less xenophobic and neo-facist.

  38. theotherone 17 Jun 2009, 2:15pm


    you pervert what i say. You make it sound like I am defending Straight Acting men. i am not.

    Straight Acting Queers always scream that they want more representation in the Mainstream media. What threy infact want is for representations of themselfs to be the only representations.

    For Straight Acting read Homophobic Poofs.

  39. Monkeychops 17 Jun 2009, 2:45pm

    thetherone – I haven’t distorted anything, I just answered your questions – perhaps you should clarify them. Re-reading it, it’s possible you were being sarcastic, but I didn’t quite get that from what you had written.

    I don’t see why “straight acting” means “homophobic poof”, it’s just a term for those who aren’t camp to identify themselves from other types of gay men. It’s an incredibly clumsy term, that’s for sure, and I wouldn’t use it myself (unless by accident, it is kind of drummed into my head from others using it). But I don’t think it means that those who identify as being that are suffering from any internalised homophobia. And why shouldn’t a non-camp guy be representing the gay community? As one, I have always had to be represented by outrageously camp guys and a bit of balance would be welcome. I think we should all be represented.

  40. theotherone 17 Jun 2009, 3:08pm

    forgive me monkeychops – you should reals (almost) all my posts as less than serious.

    As to representations: perhaps not yourself but menn on this site jump on any representation of non-straight acting men as a betrayel vof ‘the comunity.’

  41. Monkeychops 17 Jun 2009, 3:36pm

    I find it to be the other way round. If you’re a non-camp guy/scene queen, you get bile spat at you and accused of being internally homophobic and full of self-hatred because you are “rejecting” your true self, i.e. camp, bitchy and outrageous. Not just here, out and about on the scene as well. There seems to be little tolerance to those who either don’t want to make a career out of standing up for gay rights or who wish to denounce any part of mainstream gay behaviour or lifestyle.

    I’ll remember to read your comments with a sarcastic tone in future and then maybe I’ll get it first time ;)

  42. theotherone 18 Jun 2009, 11:24am

    i find that it’s the effemanate Men, Butch Lesbians, Bisexuals and Gender Queers get abuse, spat at, thrown out of clubs, atacked…

  43. I think SBC is a talented comedian and he likes to push at the boundaries. I can’t judge this film until I see it but I would like to think it is partly an attempt to hold up a mirror to the gay community as much as it is to expose homophobia and make homophobes out to be idiots. My only worry is that while it is a good thing for the gay community to have their awareness levels raised about their problems/failings it would be bad for a broader audience to latch onto those as criticisms and reaons to reinforce negative sterotypes. Bruno seems to be the same kind of comedy idiot that Ali G and Borat are – it would be nice if there were some positive depictions of gay poeple as well. I know this is a comedy though so it has to be funny!

  44. Monkeychops 18 Jun 2009, 6:28pm

    theotherone – I guess you are talking more about non-gay people attacking camp men, butch lesbians etc. I was talking more about what happens within the gay scene.

    Tony – I agree with you on that point. Equally, I wonder what it would be like to just have some gay characters in films and on TV that didn’t have issues. That were simply as banal as anyone else. Like a gay version of Kevin from Coronoation Street (ok, crqap example, but that’s as banal as I can think of at the mo). It’s so very rare. Most films with gay characters are either like Trick (uber-camp and very scene-oriented, stereotypical accounts) or ones where there is a huge emphasis on persecution, getting oneself accepted or general just addressing “issues”. There’s always pain and suffering, doom and gloom (although many of them are well-made and there is a need for at least some films like that). It would be nice to see something without “issues” for once. After all, there are gay people that don’t have them, thankfully :)

  45. The trouble with Cohen is that he’s trying to walk both sides of the street at the same time: take the piss out of fashionista poofter stereotypes to get the laughs from the mainstream while at the same time also taking the piss out of redneck homophobes. This can only work if you’re very funny and very talented, and he’s neither – just takes the cheap and easy option every time. Borat, Bruno and Ali G just aren’t very funny, except intermittently. Besides which, Cohens intentions are irrelevant – it’s not how he meant the film to be understood, it’s how people actually take it that matters. And on that score he fails: his work is simply not clever enough to fulfil his aims, and ends up perpetuating stereotypes.
    Or to cut to the chase, Bruno is crap.

  46. I agree he is perpetuating stereotypes, but his does have to face the homophobia which his stereotype unleashes . . . I think this is brave.

    I also think this is interesting for three reasons:

    * Firstly, he highlights the hatred towards effeminacy in men
    * Secondly he highlights the oppression and violence faced by camp
    gay men
    * Thirdly, he points out how oppressed all men are because
    “getting in touch with you feminine side” is still so violently

    For me this raises another question. What is the difference between hating effeminacy in men and actually hating women. . . which begs the question – is their a link between homophobia and misogyny

    A very clever brave performance artist


  47. theotherone 20 Jun 2009, 12:42pm

    no monkeychops, I’m talking about what happens on ‘the scene.’

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