16. Sacha Baron Cohen: Funny or Not?

We all remember back in 2006 when funny man Sacha Baron Cohen introduced us to Borat, a politically incorrect Kazakhstanian tourist on the hunt for the love of his life, Pamela Anderson. Basically, Borat drives across America wreaking havoc on and embarrassing the unknowing victims he comes across. There are many crude situations throughout the ‘mockumentary’, from nude scenes to blatant racism and sexism. Although it was highly offensive, Americans ate the film up. Cohen even won the Golden Globe for Best Actor: Musical or Comedy. So we got a good laugh out of the public humiliation and over-the-top character and hoped to never hear from Borat again.

Fast forward 3 years later and Cohen was back, this time as a gay Austrian fashionista by the name of Bruno. Blatantly mocking the gay lifestyle, the premise of the movie is almost exactly the same as Borat. Shunned from the fashion world, Bruno travels to the United States with the dreams of becoming famous. Again, Cohen vies for laughs through inappropriate behavior at the expense of other’s dignity. Okay, we get it. Bruno comes and goes and we breathe a sigh of relief that hopefully Cohen’s act is over.

That is, until today when a new character made an appearance at the 84th Annual Academy Awards red carpet. His newest character, General Aladeen from his upcoming movie titled “The Dictator” arrived on the carpet in full dictator garb, accompanied by two women clad in military attire. He claimed to be holding an urn full of the ashes of Kim Jong Il. While being interviewed by E! News correspondent Ryan Seacrest, Cohen proceeded to “accidentally” spill the ashes of the late dictator all over the front of Seacrest’s expensive Burberry tuxedo. A clearly shocked Seacrest tried to laugh off the incident while ‘General Aladeen’ was escorted away.

I get that Sacha Baron Cohen has had previous success with his whole shtick. Put on an accent, outrageous costume, humiliate a few people at the expense of a few laughs, and BOOM – a hit movie. However, disrespecting one of the industries most prestigious hosts and interviewers at the biggest award show that honors the years best in film is shamelessly tacky and in my opinion – not funny. For a trend that started more than six years ago, you would think that a comedian would be able to think of new, less insolent ways to make us laugh. I get that the Sacha Baron Cohen brand likes to stick with what worked for them in the past, but these days I think it is time to start being more creative and less offensive.



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