Brüno: Is Satire Dead?

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Sven Sven's picture
Brüno: Is Satire Dead?

Is anyone here planning on avoiding Sacha Baron Cohen's newest film [url=Brüno[/url]">http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/movies/14barn.html?_r=1&8dpc][color=bl... because some people won't "get" the satire?

Star Spangled C...

I can't wait to see it!!! Cohen is the funniest man in showbiz.

Caissa

Give me Monty Python any day over Cohen.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Funny you should say that. I just watched the "Life of Brian" for the first time in years. I remembered it being hilarious. This time, I think I might have laughed once.

I know I laughed a couple of times during 'Borat', but they were cheap laughs, shock laughs that wouldn't hold up for a second viewing. I didn't see it in the theatre, or even rent it, I just watched it on TV.

Unless I hear it's better than 'Borat', I'll be giving 'Bruno' a pass completely.

al-Qa'bong

Lemme guess, Cohen has progressed from mocking Central Asian Muslims to mocking Germans?

Paul Gross

Of course not.

It's Gay Austrians.

 

al-Qa'bong wrote:

Lemme guess, Cohen has progressed from mocking Central Asian Muslims to mocking Germans?

Unionist

Borat was disgusting - couldn't watch it to the end. There's a not-so-fine line between satire and misanthropy.

Let me clarify that it was not just the mockery of "foreigners" that was disturbing - it was the evil-minded set-up and mockery of U.S. folks. Even though I think Cohen is very smart, his nastiness was not saved by a sufficient counter-measure of worthwhile humour.

Stargazer

Ha, I loved Borat and I don't care if he mocked the US. I can't wait to see Bruno. I loved and own the Ali G eason one and two. Cohen is brilliant. Some people like him, others don't. But then again I'm a huge Woody Allen fan and it appears no one gets him.

Those Us "folks" he mocked were mainly straight up bigots. I have zero problem with laughing at them. None. Nada.

 

Caissa

For me Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a classic of satire.

nussy

For me no one is a better satirist than Gene Wilder. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Bill Maher is a great satirist, and he has his own show ("Real Time") on HBO, which I never miss every Friday. He's currently getting under the skin of the Obama administration. Laughing

Star Spangled C...

Boom Boom wrote:

Bill Maher is a great satirist, and he has his own show ("Real Time") on HBO, which I never miss every Friday. He's currently getting under the skin of the Obama administration. Laughing

His rant at the end of last week's show was terrific. You can read it here: http://www.hbo.com/billmaher/new_rules/index.html just scroll to the end.

al-Qa'bong

What do Bill Maher, Gene Wilder or The Holy Grail satirise?  (I can see that Monty Python is having fun with Arthurian legends, but satire usually has a purpose beyond mere yuks).

Caissa

Each sketch in the Holy Grail is satirizing some shibboleth or other.

Tommy_Paine

The "Holy Grail" was essentially a number of sketch comedy bits strung together with the Arthurian legends as a theme and very loose plot contrivance. 

Funny as Hell.

"Life of Brian" is satire.  It was a satire on religion and politics. Particularly radical and left wing politics:

Reg: [arriving at Brian's crucifixion] Hello, Sibling Brian.
Brian: Thank God you've come, Reg.
Reg: Well, I think I should point out first, Brian, in all fairness, we are not, in fact, the rescue committee. However, I have been asked to read the following prepare statement on behalf of the movement. "We the People's Front of Judea, brackets, officials, end brackets, do hereby convey our sincere fraternal and sisterly greetings to you, Brian, on this, the occasion of your martyrdom. "
Brian: What?
Reg: "Your death will stand as a landmark in the continuing struggle to liberate the parent land from the hands of the Roman imperialist aggressors, excluding those concerned with drainage, medicine, roads, housing, education, viniculture and any other Romans contributing to the welfare of Jews of both sexes and hermaphrodites. Signed, on behalf of the P. F. J. , etc. " And I'd just like to add, on a personal note, my own admiration, for what you're doing for us, Brian, on what must be, after all, for you a very difficult time.

It's like they travelled forward in time, and read Babble.

And, I do think it's funny, still.

As big a fan of Bill Maher as I am, I am not sure what he does is satire.  His observations on society and politics more often than not utilize humour and sarcasm, with tinges of irony, but I'm pretty sure it's not satire. Sort of a more fun, less articulate, version of Gore Vidal-- whose satires like "Duluth" and "Myra Breckonridge" fall flat with most.  I would make the same observation about John Stewart's routines on the "Daily Show".  While Stewart himself doesn't deliver satire, his "correspondents" certainly do, and on the whole I don't think anyone could argue that the show in it's entirety isn't satire.

That role is reversed for Stephen Colbert, who performs satire while guests don't.

And of course, there is the master of satire himself, Wolf Blitzer over at CNN.

 

 

 

Ha, I loved Borat and I don't care if he mocked the US. I can't wait to see Bruno.

 

That's odd, Stargazer. My mental file on you has it that we were almost kindred spirits on pop culture stuff.  But here we must part.  I had to stop watching "Borat",  and I couldn't stand the "Ali-G" character.  In fact, this guy is one of the few people on the planet who invokes in me an urge to punch in the face on sight.  And that's before he even says anything.

 

Tommy_Paine

Hmmm......yeah, I can see that Cassia.  I might revise my position.

Ghislaine

I agree with unionist's assessment of Borat. I especially could not stand the part where he stays with the Jewish couple at their Bed and Breakfast and is horribly anti-semitic.

Bill Mahar is funny by times, but has made too many misogynist comments for my liking.

 

Tommy_Paine

Bill Mahar is funny by times, but has made too many misogynist comments for my liking.

Yeah.  The man certainly has some wierd issues when it comes to women.   I've seen his stand up routine, and when he talks about women, it's shocking how such an otherwise intelligent person can be so stupid, crass and mysogynistic.

On the other hand, he certainly includes a lot of intelligent women on his show, and it seems to me he genuinely likes and respects them.  I'm not sure there's any other male talk show hosts that provides the same podium to such women.

So, I dunno what to really make of it.

 

al-Qa'bong

Caissa wrote:

Each sketch in the Holy Grail is satirizing some shibboleth or other.

 

Shibboleths? Can you cite an example?

The "She's a witch" scene comes close to satirising Medieval jurisprudence, but then, satire has an underlying purpose.  Are the Python's trying to reform old legal systems?

The "My name's Dennis" scene satirises contemporary left-wing politics, and monarchism.  I'll give you that.

 

I agree with Tommy on The Life of Brian.  The whole thing satirises religion, and Latin class.

 

Caissa

Satire's purpose is to make people think.  Let's take the knight scene. It satirizes a certain form of chivalry. Monarchy is satirized throughout. The Left is satirized in the peasant anarchist scene.

Stargazer

Tommy, I part on the Borat/Ali G issue with a lot of people :)

BTW, just got in Jean-Claude Brisseau's Exterminating Angels and Secret Things! WooT!!

Stargazer

Tommy, I part on the Borat/Ali G issue with a lot of people :)

 

A lot of people (well mainly men actually) really though Jackass was funny. I thought it was horrible, stupid and extremely juvenile. Who can account for taste? I see no appeal in the Jackass movies, but apparently lots do. To each their own.

 

BTW, just got in Jean-Claude Brisseau's Exterminating Angels and Secret Things! WooT!!

Sven Sven's picture

Stargazer wrote:

I part on the Borat/Ali G issue with a lot of people :)

Yeah, but those people lack a sense of humor!! Tongue out

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Tommy_Paine

A lot of people (well mainly men actually) really though Jackass was funny.

 

That whole genre of slapstick, Jackass, Three Stooges, and to some extent Laural and Hardy and what the late Chris Farley termed "fatty fall down" humour I never found funny.  But slapstick that has some kind of set up that engages your brain somehow, does make me laugh.

I saw an interview with John Cleese years ago, and he said his humour was based on the idea that most middle class Englishmen just want to get through life with as little embarassment as possible.  So, he always zeroed in on embarassment.  And, I find John Cleese very funny.

On the other hand, I'm wearing a watch... sorry... on the other hand, embarassment based humour like "Borat", or many George Costanza bits on Seinfeld make me cringe and squirm and want to be anywhere else but where I am.  And, don't even get me started on Larry David's show, Curb Your Enthusiasm.

However, I find Sarah Silverman very funny, and she's essentially doing the same kind of embarassment schtick.  Maybe it's because her character is just enough of a step beyond reality that it doesn't hit my empathy bone, where as Larry David and Sacha Cohen play their characters too real.

Really, I'd rather watch the autopsy chanel while eating than Cohen or David, or that type of humour.

 

 

martin dufresne

The most interesting humorists take a homophobic, sexist, e.g. normal audience and take it further by playing to their prejudice at first but then spoiling their fun by taking them further, beyond that, taking them to the level of more inteligent laugh, at themselves. In Quebec, Yvon Deschamps was a master at that. Cathy Gauthier does it well today.

Others, like Cohen, simply try to play to both crowds, claiming the cheap yuks are to be deconstructed. But given the numbers, they are successful to the extent that they keep general audiences well-supplied in stereotypes about women, gays, minority groups in general, as do the comics who don't even attempt to pass as really offering something else than their primary message.

Winnifred

I think Cohen is a genious. Comedy transcends cultures and a good comedian can step over lines and then teach needed lessons through laughter. Cohen does that brilliantly.

Stargazer

I agree Winnifred.

Tommy do you like Woody Allen? In particular his earlier movies? Although there is slapstick involved, he manages to get in enough philosophy to take it to a higher level. I'm thinking Love & Death here. I have to say, I adore his movies (yes, even his recent ones) and loved his stand-up and his books. He is probably the funniest man alive IMO. Here's Woody's character, Boris, on death:

Boris: The question is have I learned anything about life. Only that human beings are divided into mind and body. The mind embraces all the nobler aspirations, like poetry and philosophy, but the body has all the fun. The important thing, I think, is not to be bitter... if it turns out that there IS a God, I don't think that He's evil. I think that the worst you can say about Him is that basically He's an underachiever. After all, there are worse things in life than death. If you've ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman, you know what I'm talking about. The key is, to not think of death as an end, but as more of a very effective way to cut down on your expenses. Regarding love, heh, what can you say? It's not the quantity of your sexual relations that counts. It's the quality. On the other hand if the quantity drops below once every eight months, I would definitely look into. Well, that's about it for me folks. Goodbye.

Sven Sven's picture

I thought Borat was funny simply in a silly way.  Nothing thought-provoking or insightful.  And, that is why I like much of the silliness of Monty Python (e.g., the Dead Parrot sketch -- among countless other sketches) or a lot of what Will Ferrell does ("The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" or "The Legend of Ron Burgundy").

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Tommy_Paine

Tommy do you like Woody Allen? In particular his earlier movies? Although there is slapstick involved, he manages to get in enough philosophy to take it to a higher level.

This brings up another subject I will get to in a moment.  I liked Woody Allen's earlier stuff, movies like "sleeper" that had elements of zany mixed in.  And, I will publicly admit that when I was a young teen " What's up Tiger Lilly? " made me laugh.  Though I saw a few minutes of it a few years ago and wonder today what I was laughing at.   His later stuff seems to me more introspective, and I find the routine of the angst ridden New Yorker tedious.

Now, of course, I can't separate his private life from his movies, so that takes a lot of potential fun out of it for me, I guess. And that's the other subject.  Certainly, if you are enjoying any of the Leslie Nielson comedies, you might find one gag funny, the next one not so much, or not at all, but they come at you like a machine gun so you stick with it until O.J. Simpson appears on screen and suddenly, it ain't funny no more.

Some people can separate the personal lives of performers and artists from their art, and some people can't.  I'm a can't.  I often wish I wasn't.   I mean, I used to love, absolutely adore the work of Salvidor Dali, and I still do-- but it's tinged with guilt now that I know what a slimy fascist he was.  I guess Picasso was more in line with my political and social sentiments.  But I can't stand Picasso's art.  The phenomena doesn't seem to go both ways.  A criminal or someone whose politics I strongly dissagree with can turn me off the art;  but no matter how much I agree with an artists politics, or admire what we know of them as people from the media can't make me like the art.

I'm getting better at separating this stuff as I get older.  I watched "On the Water Front" the other night, and admired the movie on it's own terms, putting aside the role of Kazan in the Communist witch hunts of the 50's. 

However, I can't watch Fatty Arbuckle, and even attempt to understand his humour because he's such a tragic figure.

 

 

Stargazer

I understand what you are saying Tommy. I guess I can skip over the personal and just look at the art. I have to agree though that his earlier movies were funnier. Later on in his life, he started filming in places like the UK and Spain so I don't see the later works so much as new Yorker angst stuff.

I still love Bitter Moon, by Polanski, and we know that he fled the country to avoid charges of having sex with a minor.

Not a fan at all of the Airplane series of movies.

I just bought Woody's "What's Up Tiger Lily?" so I can almost complete my Woody collection.

I love Morgan Freeman, and here's the latest gossip about him.

http://news.puggal.com/morgan-freeman-step-granddaughter

 

I think if I was to stop watching the movies of people who have questionable politics or pasts, I might be screwed out of good entertainment.

 

 

 

martin dufresne

Do you think it's a coincidence that "stars" can so often walk all over other people's rights? It seems that only self-destruction can bring them down. Even child rapist Polanski gets kudos from the arty crowd. I think that part of being "entertained" is vicarious enjoyment of these men's privilege...

al-Qa'bong

Back to satire; I think Stephen Colbert satirises blowhard rightwing media personalities well.

 

He does such a good job, however, that sometimes I can't stand watching his show.

Stargazer

Martin, I am not watching Bitter Moon to be vicariously entertained by Polanski's enjoyment of the sex with a minor incident and I find your comment incredinly insulting, as a feminist and as a survivor of rape. I am old enough and wise enough to accurately separate the art from the artist. Martin, I really feel you owe me an apology. You have no idea what it is like to be raped, sexually assaulted and treated like crap for the majority of your life in a woman's skin. I do. I am a grown woman who makes her own decisions and I don't need you telling me how I apparently want to be vicariously entertained. That's sick and cruel.

 

 

martin dufresne

Stargazer, I am very sorry that I happened to insert this comment after your reference to Bitter Moon. It made it look as if I was referring to that. I wasn't and it was ill-advised. I was thinking about the recent film "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" that is a biopic about the man and generating what I feel is sick interest. In fact, my initial idea was to mention the Milos Forman biopic fawning over Larry Flynt as human rights hero. I have nothing to offer about distinguishing an artist and his art. Personally, I can't, that's all. But I do apologize to you.

Stargazer

Okay thank you Martin. I have downloaded Wanted and Desired. I have odd tastes, and I like to understand the whys and how's of things. For example, I read a lot on child predators because I want to understand what makes them tick. Not so I can live vicariously through their crimes, but so that I can understand why someone would commit such crimes. Without understanding there can be no healing. Perhaps you do not understand this. I don't know. But it certainly helps me when I see these offenders as human as opposed to some anomily that rarely happens. I like to face the truth, no matter how dark that truth may be.

 

I have yet to watch the film, but I am and always will be interested in the minds of those who can commit such crimes against women and children. Knowledge in this case is power. Part of this is also related to my interest in Criminology. Sometimes it takes a hell of a lot of courage to understand, as opposed to pretending this is rare, or unusual behaviour. It is not rare. It is not unusual. It is incredibly and unfortunately common.

 

You know what I find? That those who are survivors of rape and abuse are the ones who are more willing to understand. Those who are not are very quick to ignore. That I find disturbing.

martin dufresne

I totally agree with you... and I also draw on my personal experience of male violence to wage this battle. I get a lot of suspicious looks for looking closely into killings of women by men in Quebec, e.g. the Polyechnique massacre. Going along with malestream media, people tend to want to believe that these men are mad and that there is nothing to understand. 

But can I ask whether you too are peeved by the people who do thrive on porn or murder chic? There are a lot of voyeurs out there, for whom rapist celebrities offer a thrill. Please let us know what you think once you have watched Wanted and Desired.

Stargazer

Martin, definitely no fan of porn here. I am very unpopular because of my stance on porn. Sort of old-school feminist. That's all I want to say about that to avoid a pile-up of abuse.

 

Am I peeved at these people who watch degrading and violent porn - absolutely. Hell, I am not even a fan of "regular" porn. Not sure what murder chic is. I'm a horror movie fan, so maybe that's your answer. I also watch a lot of warped flicks and I like the film I Spit On Your Grave. The revenge is gratuitous for me (and probably a lot of women).

 

I'll let you know if I do get around to watching the Polanski flick.

Papal Bull

The only reason I still like Borat is that it got a DVD release with a Russian dub!

al-Qa'bong

I once watched Spongebob Squarepants dubbed in German at a hotel near the Paris-deGaulle Aeroport.  That was a hoot.

martin dufresne

Baron Cohen shills for the prostitution industry... and adds a men's rights twist:

Fri Jun 19, 11:46 am ET

AMSTERDAM (Reuters Life) British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, in his
latest incarnation as a gay Austrian fashion reporter, jet skied through a
canal into Amsterdam's red light district on Friday to open a brothel full
of men in thongs ahead of the Dutch premiere of 'Bruno'.

"For too long, guys coming here from around the world have been forced to
have sex with women," Cohen said, standing in front of a pink-lit brothel
building in the Dutch capital as surprised tourists and stag party
goerslooked on.

"It gives me great pleasure to declare Amsterdam's pink light district
officially open for business," he said, as about a dozen men emerged from
behind curtains at the windows of a three-storey brothel.

Cohen, hoping to replicate the success of his 2006 hit movie "Borat:
Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,"
was wearing a cut-away suit which revealed his own red thong. In "Bruno,"
Cohen is a gay fashion reporter seeking stardom in America.

After declaring the pink brothel open, Cohen left in a black car while the
men left their rooms, put on white robes and waved goodbye to crowds. The
real prostitutes, who had hidden from the flashing cameras, reopened their
curtains to wait for their next clients in their red-lit windows.

 

Stargazer

Oh please! It is satire. I would hate to go through life having to censor everything I watched or read just to please others.

martin dufresne

I agree that the unfettered freedom to sh*t all over non-WHAMs is central to the West's pursuit of happiness.

Stargazer

You're being dense. I'm through with this thread. Glad to see you are the authority on what and who we can find funny. Perhaps you'll spend the next, oh 5 years, digging through the pasts of all artists. Report back on whose art you can see, watch or read.

 

You do not get to set the boundaries for me, or anyone else. I feel sorry for you that you have no apparent sense of humour or adventure.

Caissa

It's actually pretty good satire, Stargazer.

Stargazer

Damn right it is Caissa, or are you referring to Martin? Tongue out

Caissa

No, I was agreeing with you whole heartedly. I don't like everything he Cohen does but that event Martin posted was masterful.

Sven Sven's picture

Well, I think there is one thing we can all agree on: If someone doesn't think SBC is funny (or is actively offensive), then a person needn't see the film.

Personal choice is a beautiful thing.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Stargazer

Oh, the opposite then must be that they are humourless...I see, glad you seem to know all about how these people think, feel, and whether they are capable of actually being humourous.

 

Martin, please stop with the out feministing the feminists. It gets really really boring.

martin dufresne

I don't know what bores you - and I can't say I care - I was alluding to the "real prostitutes" (hint: not men) personal choice (see last sentence of preceding post), not their sense of humour.

al-Qa'bong

I think it's your sense of humour at issue here.  Anyway, enough about you.

 

Quote:
Here's [Mike Myers] Sacha Baron Cohen at a photocall for Bruno in Berlin. The only thing missing from these pictures is a T-shirt with the word "poop" on it which would've been absolutely hilarious provided I traveled back in time and showed them to my eight-year-old self. In the meantime, I'm going to ask everyone to ignore the fact I just suggested a young boy should look at pictures of a quasi-naked man. Honestly, I don't know what that's all about, I just type whatever pops into my head. Dolphin getting a lap dance ham sandwich
.
 
 
Sacha Baron Cohen is wacky

martin dufresne

Personal choice is a beautiful thing.

One can only hope that the women in the brothels being "satirized" have it.

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