Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno could have been "a hilarious cultural corrective," said David Rakoff in Salon, a film shining "the light of truth on the last acceptable bigotry—homophobia." But instead, Cohen's flamboyant Austrian fashionista character "is a gay minstrel," further perpetuating negative stereotypes about homosexuals. "No actual gay guy would ever have made this film. Brüno preaches a false emancipation." (watch the trailer for Brüno)
But "the beauty—and perhaps even the moral logic—of Baron Cohen's method," said Dennis Lim in Slate, "is that those who're not in on his joke are invariably the butts of the joke." And "lost amid the dutiful hand-wringing about the movie's capacity to offend" is the fact that Brüno tackles "some of the most vexing and enduring bugbears surrounding onscreen homosexuality." Cohen has "come up with a brilliant tactic against homophobia—the gay-panic offense."
"Homophobia, schmomophobia," said Hank Stuever in The Washington Post. "America has a giant case of sexphobia." The straight people in this movie, "such as a heterosexual swingers group infiltrated by Brüno, have just as many issues about their orientation and desires as anyone else." The trouble is—even after 40 years of gay rights—"the more political being gay gets, the more afraid everyone gets of sex."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- Paul Ryan's anti-poverty plan is another sign of life in the GOP
Subscribe to the Week