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Sacha Baron Cohen: What 'Bruno' means for gay rights

Will a comedian's over-the-top character reinforce negative stereotypes?

Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming movie Bruno is supposed to poke fun at homophobes, said Alex Dobuzinskis in Reuters, but some gay-rights activists are afraid the joke will be on them. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is worried that Cohen’s “flamboyant gay Austrian fashion reporter” would reinforce negative stereotypes and set back the fight for gay marriage and other rights. The group even “asked in vain” for the film's producers to “add a message from Cohen addressing the importance of gay rights and tolerance.” (watch the trailer for Bruno)

It’s understandable that “Hollywood’s gay community is reacting with anxiety and suspicion” to Bruno, said Dominic Patten in The Wrap. The producers “did not seek input from members of the gay community until very late in the process,” and some claim that “when they were consulted, filmmakers did not address their concerns that the film was a distortion of homosexuality.” Several outrageous scenes bothered gay audiences.

That’s not the filmmakers’ problem, said Brendon Connelly in Slash Film. Cohen’s Bruno has “always been a very passionately pro-homosexuality” and “anti-homophobia” character. If Bruno weren’t “such an utterly transparent and simplified stereotype, the satire wouldn’t work.” So wise up—Bruno is a “big gun” in the “war” against homophobia, even if some "lunkheads" fighting on the same side don't get it.

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