Sacha Baron Cohen's Controversial Brand Of Comedy
To the comedian’s credit, his controversial brand of humor has in many instances brought sensitive issues to light. Despite the feelings of sharp discomfort—which had a little something to do with the fact that so many people actually thought Borat was real and believed his radical politics—his “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” called out some of the extreme ideologies we witnessed both domestically and abroad.
The creator of “Ali G” and “Bruno” as well, Baron Cohen is no stranger to vulgarity. His next provocative film, “The Dictator” takes a turn to the realm of scripted comedy. He plays role the of General Colonel Doctor Aladeen, a north African dictator who visits the U.S., only to have things go completely wrong.
The movie is inspired by “Zabibah and the King,” a book about a compassionate ruler, written by the infamous Saddam Hussein, according to the Huffington Post.
“The Dictator” touches on the sensitive topics of U.S.-Middle East relations, terrorism and even HIV, blatantly putting them in the extreme to send a message. A lot of truth is said in jest.
Baron Cohen has played serious parts as well. He threw away the acerbic and disgusting humor for his supporting roles in the Oscar-winning film “Hugo” and Tim Burton’s rendition of “Sweeney Todd,” where he sang alongside Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
Although his comedy offends—and let’s be honest, grosses out—a lot of people, the actor deserves credit for creating his own vein of humor.
It’s not that comedic geniuses like the late George Carlin didn’t call out politics or politicians. In fact, many have done it and have done it well. But comedians like Carlin weren’t disgusting. They didn’t make movies featuring censor bars for genitalia during nude wrestling scenes, a-la “Borat.”
Few people are this outrageous; few people so easily blur the thin line between offensively bad taste and making a mockery of political correctness. But that sort of comedy comes at a price.
“… [Sacha] mentioned that he had like some fatwas against him,” his “Dictator” co-star, Anna Faris, said in a conference call. “All these like jihadists that are really upset with him for “Borat” and “Bruno”…they’re somehow going to take revenge.”
With all its critical political messages, “The Dictator” will be no different. Baron Cohen has already drawn attention to his General Aladeen. He caused serious controversy when he poured Kim Jong-il’s “ashes” on Ryan Seacrest at the Oscars red carpet--a stunt many called the "moment of the night."
“It’ll be very interesting to see how America responds, and then, sort of how the international community responds to the movie,” Faris said.
"The Dictator" hits theaters May 16.
Reach senior entertainment editor Sarah here.