According to a new report at The Wrap, Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Bruno was reshot to appease the “Hollywood gay community.” Frankly, if this is true, I’m a little disappointed in the filmmakers for bowing to this pressure. Furthermore, I think it reflects very badly on this community if they are incensed by the movie. There’s absolutely no way that Bruno isn’t, wasn’t, and hasn’t always been a very passionately pro-homosexuality, anti-homophobia piece. The article mentions a few particular individuals that were apparently offended, from Year of the Dog‘s Mike White to the actors Jack Plotnick and Peter Paige. It also includes a video, embedded after the break, in which numerous industry folk let their feelings be known.
But this is actually quite a cut-and-dried scenario, if you ask me. If Bruno was not such an utterly transparent and simplified stereotype the satire wouldn’t work, the statement wouldn’t be made and the film would become more exploitative, not less. It was essential for Sacha Baron Cohen to create such a definitively outrageous stereotype with the character, much as he did with Borat and Ali G. The less plausible the stereotyping is, the more scathing the film.
I’m hoping that Cohen and Co. stuck to their guns and didn’t bow to this unfounded or unreasoned pressure at all (and this isn’t impossible – the reporting at The Wrap is gaining a reputation for innaccuracy). Bruno looks like an incredible megaton-bomb of a film, a rare movie that can actually do some damage on the cultural battlefields.
What we have to remember is that Borat and Bruno are to a large extent documentaries, if hugely innovative ones, that represent real social reactions to extreme stimuli. The more extreme the stimuli, the better the experiment’s results. You might think of them as cinematic equivalents of psychology tests, such as the famous Milgram Experiments which exposed, quite conclusively, man’s ability to be inhuman in the face of pressure from authority. If Milgram curbed his test’s concept at a mild slap or two instead of definitely fatal electrical charges his findings would carry considerably less import.
Here’s the video, which canvasses the opinions of industry folk at a recent event in Hollywood. Do note how the the interviewer leads their answers and even finishes sentences for them at times. Impartial reporting this is not.
Should you be one of those who seems to find homophobia funny and when you watch Bruno you are laughing at the gay stereotype, not at the provocations, reactions and satirical implications of Cohen’s actions, then you still aren’t Sacha Baron Cohen’s responisiblity and his inability to reach i nto your head and fix it shouldn’t be drawing criticism on his film. His not making the film would not have snuffed you out or left you free to learn the error of your ways in isolation. I honestly believe that this film is a weapon against homophobia and while it is going to be misunderstood by many, and that might feel uncomfortable for some, I’m afraid that discomfort is relatively insignificant. There’s a battle going on, against bigotry and hatred and small mindedness, and Bruno is a big gun (though only one, I admit) in that war. We can’t abort the mission just because some lunkheads are too armoured by their thick skulls to take the bullet.