Not necessarily known for their sense of humor, it comes as no surprise that a certain cohort of the LGBTQ community — what I call the “HRC Gays” — are up in arms about the movie Brüno. GLAAD teamed up with HRC to cause a shit-storm all over the funniest movie I’ve seen in years. Because Brüno, a flaming, insensitive, culturally ignorant homosexual character played by actor Sacha Baron Cohen (star of Borat and before that HBO’s Da Ali G Show), interacts with real-life people, the humor is two-fold; you are at once laughing at the silliness of the character, but mostly at how people react to him. Sometimes it takes that extreme of a character to allow people to be overt about their discrimination.
Dennis Lim of Slate perfectly summarizes the film’s premise, “Brüno is less a character than a button-pushing social experiment in locating the tipping point of tolerance: How much can he get away with? What does it take to unleash the inner bigot? For his merciless ambushes to work, Brüno needs to be this flamboyant — and this moronic.” The HRC Gays say that the nuanced humor in Brüno is too sophisticated for most people to get. A spokesperson for HRC said, "We strongly feel that Sacha Baron Cohen and Universal Pictures have a responsibility to remind the viewing public right there in the theater that this is intended to expose homophobia."
Like Borat, the plot and story line of Brüno are weak, so much so that they are almost forgettable, but it’s the gags that make Sacha Baron Cohen’s movies. Brüno packs way more punch than Borat, giving audiences more of what they came for.
In one scene, Brüno poses as a casting director for a baby photo shoot. A stage mom agrees to unbelievable things like letting her baby pose as a Nazi, getting crucified on a cross dressed like Jesus and even promises to have her baby loose 10 pounds, even if it means her infant has to have liposuction. These are the people who look like asses in the film and, for once in a movie, the butt of the joke is not always the homosexual man.
One photo from the shoot depicts Brüno holding his baby in a hot tub with three naked men. Referring to it, GLAAD said, “Scenes like that don't help America understand the hundreds of thousands of gay families who get up every day, do the carpool then rush home to make dinner and be with their children.” In this respect, GLAAD is right. Brüno isn’t even trying to be a movie about helping America understand that gays can assimilate in straight world. Instead, it exposes the rampant homophobia that is ugly and not at all comfortable.
At an extreme fighting match, a rowdy crowd starts throwing chairs and chanting violent threats at Brüno and another character making out in a caged ring. It’s not meant to be funny and none of my fellow audience members laughed, we all winced as one. Brüno was #1 at the box office this weekend. Even if people came in to laugh at Brüno, their stereotype of a gay man, they left seeing what gays have to deal with in this country and somehow everyone ends up on his side.