Friday, November 27, 2009

Eye Opening

Yesterday we watched Sacha Baron Cohen's latest satire, Bruno. I know I'm late to the table on this one. Frankly nothing I'd seen or heard about this movie made me want to see it.

Terri Gross's interview with Sacha on NPR's Fresh Air changed my mind. Hearing all the behind-the-scenes drama around the making of the movie piqued my interest. Sacha explained the need for an over-the-top character who embodied what people fear most about gay people. I'd like to catch this excellent interview again now that I've seen the movie.

To say Bruno is offensive is an understatement of epic proportions. Had I not heard the Fresh Air interview, I might not have gotten past frequent graphic depictions of often unimaginable sex acts. But I did. It wasn't always easy, and I'm hardly a prude. Close your eyes and plug your ears if you must, but stick it out.  In the end it's really not about the sex.  It's about pure unadulterated hate and ignorance.

Sacha Baron Cohen is either very brave or very foolish. I've been out for more than 30 years. I have never come close to being as outrageous as the Bruno character in no small part because I don't like getting beat up. For the same reason I've avoided the situations Bruno faces in the movie. As a resident of the Deep South, I was encouraged by how far Bruno had to go to get the Alabama hunters to react. Showing up naked at someone's tent in the middle of the night is just asking for trouble.

Bruno made me think about my own experience in a different way. It won't, however, change my behavior. I will continue to carefully avoid commenting on any straight man's appearance (don't you look nice today!) unless I have known him for a very long time. You can't be too careful.

I'll continue to be very careful about commenting on photos people post of their male children (isn't he cute!). I've learned the hard way how quickly people can jump to all the wrong conclusions. Ever had someone seriously call you a child molester? I had to leave the house when my ex had his two boys over because his ex-wife was afraid of what I would do to them.

My biggest complaint about Bruno? The people who should see it, won't. If per chance they do, they won't get it. If you need to hit people with a sledgehammer to get their attention, you'll need to spell out exactly what you want them to know once you do. To me, without the Fresh Air interview that's where Bruno fails. 

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