Last night, my husband invited me to a pre-release screening of the new Sacha Baron Cohen flick, "Bruno." Our son has been anticipating this for weeks, because he just loved "Borat," where Baron Cohen plays a bigoted, backward "innocent" journalist from Khazakstan interviewing and grossing out people across America. I happened to attend the Borat screening and found myself at many points laughing (and feeling guilty about it) and at other points completely revolted.
I felt guilty because the Borat character created hilarious situations by taking advantage of people. Kindly, helpful teachers, dinner companions, hoteliers and others were exploited and made to look either stupid or prejudiced. A scene where children run in real terror from an ice cream truck equipped with a ferocious live bear is funny, but at the same time painful. I think my son liked Borat because it's the kind of immature humor that 15-year-old-boys appreciate, in which scatology and others' embarrassment serve the cause of personal kicks. Luckily, he got an invitation to go camping with a friend, so wasn't in town for the Bruno screening.
From the buzz about the new film and a few teaser clips, I knew that Borat would be tame by comparison. I'm not eager to focus on anyone's rear end, and the word about Bruno was that orificial humor was prevalent. So, much as I enjoy an evening out with my husband, I chose to skip this one.
I'm so glad I did.
My husband--who was highly disappointed in the movie--came home ready to give me a detailed description, but had to phrase things carefully, and even then several times I stopped him mid-statement. The plot sounds not only disrespectful of gays, but downright degrading of them, as well as of straights. Inserting items in dank receptacles apparently comprises a large portion of the action.
The Internet Movie Data Base features a "Parents' Guide" page listing potentially objectionable scenes. There are no entries under "Profanity," "Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking" and "Frightening/Intense Scenes" for Bruno. But what's provided under "Sex and Nudity" sounds frightening enough to me; I'm uncomfortable repeating them. "Grade inflation" or crafty producers managed to nab the film an R rating; my husband felt this was a definite NC-17.
After hearing the contents of this film, my only question was, "who'd want to see this?" It's certainly not a date movie. All women, lesbians included, would be turned off by the exaggerated gay stereotypes, and certainly by the anal fixation. Heterosexual males won't be attracted to the crude overt homosexuality; it's not politically correct even to laugh at it. And I'd guess that gay guys wouldn't find Sacha Baron Cohen's crass portrayal of their sexuality either arousing or supportive of their cause.
I could be wrong, however.
There might be enough immature guys who enjoy watching animated, talking members, champagne bottles in unusual holders, and cage-fighting that devolves into men making out, to carry this film to success. But, to the credit of our national sensitivities, I doubt it.