Critical and Cultural Studies | Film and Media Studies

Document Type





Few comedians are as willing to confront American culture‟s greatest taboos for the sake of a joke as Sacha Baron Cohen. Baron Cohen originally gained popularity in America with his adorably ignorant and bumbling character, Borat. According to Biography.com, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was a surprise smash, bringing in more than $128 million at the box office”. Because of Borat‟s success, Baron Cohen is now known for a unique style of filmmaking in which his characters present themselves to people under false premises in an attempt to catch funny reactions on film. Sometimes his social experiments put him in real physical danger. For example, in Brüno, he journeys to the Middle East and antagonizes a leader of a terrorist organization and later flaunts his sexuality among homophobic hunters with loaded rifles. Sometimes the responses people give him are shocking and revealing glimpses of the mentalities that exist in our society. Borat, in particular, sometimes revealed misogyny and deep prejudice toward foreigners. Brüno promises to shock with revelations of hypocrisy in celebrity culture and evoke discomfort in the form of homophobia as Cohen takes on the roll of an outwardly (and absurdly stereotypical) gay Austrian fashion journalist. While Borat‟s critique of our fear of foreigners seemed hilariously and frighteningly relevant in our post 9-11 society and led many to feel more socially aware, Brüno‟s outwardly gay persona may offend more than it enlightens.