Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bruno: Terrifying, Hilarious, and Thought-Provoking

Sacha Baron Cohen's 'Borat' is so loved because it satirizes American culture at its worst and allows audiences in on the jokes of the outrageous main character. But why is its crudeness so hilarious? After seeing 'Bruno', in certain ways more explicit than 'Borat', I understood the appeal more. For one, Bruno's insanity makes people angry and thus unguarded. On top of that, the cringe inducing crudeness appeals to our id, our most extreme selves.

'Bruno' is essentially about a narcissistic, fame-seeking, ignorant, homosexual Austrian. He gets banned from the fashion world of his hometown, dumped by his boyfriend, and moves to L.A., a supposedly far less superficial scene. From there, he fails at pretty much everything - auditions, interviews, and even adoption. However, by his side is Bruno's ever faithful and adoring assistant's assistant - Lutz. Their relationship is a hilarious (and ultimately touching) spin on a sappy romance and is concluded in a ridiculously hilarious scene at a wrestling ring.

I actually felt more comfortable in 'Bruno' than in 'Borat' - not because of the gratuitous (and I mean gratuitous) nudity, bizarre sexual escapades, and numerous cases of disturbing sexual harassment - but because it came across as slightly less mean spirited. Perhaps this is why it received worse reviews; it seems to have revealed less about the ugly American than 'Borat'. Still, 'Bruno' covers a fair amount of ground critiquing celebrity adoption "fads," token peace-promoting songs, and most of all, homophobia.

When Bruno offends unsuspecting citizens, from swingers to Ron Paul, their reactions are often of homophobia. It is certainly understandable why most of these victims would be angry, but they often equate Bruno's insanity to his homosexuality, talking about how they don't want any "queer shit." It is reminiscent of people who hurl racial slurs only if they become furious at someone of another race, though race has absolutely nothing to do with the offense.

On top of that, 'Bruno' proves that heterosexual culture can be as scary as and more aggressive than the perceived homosexual culture. 'Bruno' throws in the face the most preposterous stereotypes anyone could have about the "homosexual lifestyle" that so many fear, hopefully making viewers realize their own stereotypes and fears.

'Bruno' is recommended, though be prepared to cover your eyes and bust a gut laughing.

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