Last night my beau and I saw the Brüno film. Seems we were not the only ones; it will be the number one film in the US this weekend. Marvin Bloom also saw Brüno. This former ex-gay and now gay Christian Jew for Jesus didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did (which you will learn from Marvin’s video below.)
The NY Daily News interviewed various comedians asking them to weigh in on the movie. Comic Reese Walters describes the genre of humor Brüno creator Sacha Baron Cohen uses,
“It’s very character-based humor. It’s almost like unscripted, character-based improvisation, is the best way I could describe it. One of the things I like about him is that he does outrageous things, but he does them true to the character. He just stays in character, stays committed to the character, and I think that’s one of the things that makes what he does work for me. I feel he does outrageous things [like handling a bag of his own excrement in “Borat”] but it doesn’t feel like he’s doing it just to be funny—it’s just the character is funny, and that is what the character would do.”
As a character actor myself, I appreciate the art and the skill behind what Cohen does as well as the social satire he presents. Does he mock gays? No. He mocks what some people believe to be true of white gay men, and he mocks what many white gay men and LGBT organizations have fought so hard to deny–campy guys who enjoy sex.
In the past few years we have been groomed and presented as gender normative, “straight acting,” asexual beings in hopes of not offending the straight voting majority. It may have been a clever political strategy (albeit with mixed results) but it has also reinforced that there is a good and a bad way of being gay. Act NORMAL. Don’t reveal the freaks among us. Don’t let people know about the sex part of our sexual orientation, in fact, don’t even say sexual orientation–just say that we are gay.
Seeing the flamboyant oversexed Brüno reminded me of my initial reactions to the “gay community” when I exited the Love in Action ex-gay program. After 17 years of trying to straighten myself out, (so crazy I made a comedy about it!) I came to my senses and accepted the reality that I was gay and couldn’t change it. That didn’t mean I was happy about it. My first forays into the Memphis gay scene appalled me.
Highly critical of anything thing outrageous or over the top (even glitter!) I resolved that I would show the world a better example of what it meant to be gay. I felt embarrassed around one of my new gay friends who couldn’t help but be a queen, and I shuddered (and not with delight) when one guy told me of his recent sexcapades in New Orleans. The hostility towards all things stereotypically gay ran deep, and although I no longer actively pursued to alter my orientation, I did wish we would all just behave.
Ah, I am so glad that I have learned to appreciate the rainbow flavors of LGBTQ folks. Some people really are bisexual–they are not confused or greedy. Some folks are not gender normative; so much of their beauty and strength come from their gender variance. Many lesbian and gay and transgender and bisexual people exude a healthy sex-positive attitude that our puritanical dishonest US society desperately needs.
No doubt the Brüno film has gotten people talking. Mostly straight people will have seen it by the end of the weekend. They will realize that someone like Brüno could never survive straight OR gay America. What Brüno does do is shock us in a way that many “self-respecting” gays have fought hard to avoid. We have dishonestly presented to the public a warped picture of who we are–a white washed version that denies the existence of our diversity–a false image designed to trick rather than invite into genuine honest public discourse.
Like much good art, Brüno will stir up discussion and debate.
I will let Marvin have the last word…