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
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Save the world... by changing how you pee
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why does Fareed Zakaria still have a job?
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Does solar energy have a battery problem?
- 7 common estate-planning mistakes
- 10 ways to gain real superpowers that will change your life
Subscribe to the Week