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Bruno amounts to a rather large penis in the face (13 July 2009)


everyman pictures

"Brüno" is not good for gays, but not for the reason you may suspect. Brüno is, ostensibly--is seemingly incontrovertibly--Sasha Baron Cohen as a über-feminine, frilly, flashy, fashion-obsessed, "girly-man" homosexual. But he is in fact more accurately understood as a hyper-masculine, phallic aggressor, phallic male, whose aim is to not so much to show up others’ prejudices, cruelty, ridiculousness, but rather to ridicule people in a way he can readily get away with, tear away at any self-dignity they claim for themselves, to, in effect, come as close to making him his "bitches," as he can.

Brüno may look to be someone a man’s man would abhor, would react to, just as the wrestling mob reacted upon finding themselves being duped into having cheered on a homosexual coupling. But natural queer aversion, isn't how best to account for the mob's reaction. The wrestling crowd was stunned and, in greater truth, traumatized by the reveal, because Cohen had set them up to look/feel like fools--colossal ones. He had “unmanned” them, made themhis "bitches"--a very cruel act, one no different in true intent than manipulating the high school' least popular into approaching/flirting with the good looking quarterback, to drive her to near suicide-level self-estimation--but one that operates under way better cover.

This bad for gay men? You betcha. Because while to the American public, gay men can be understood as the aggressors--"vampires," whose approach, whose near touch and breath, can leave you forever after affected/infected, what comes most readily to mind when they think of homosexuals is of themselves being made to seem ridiculously "girly"--"bottom-bitches," as they say. That is, humiliated, powerless, disarmed and in full surrender. And what Brüno most effectively communicates, in my judgment, is that there is no better remedy for feeling at risk of being made to feel akin to Brüno’s "bottom-bitch" (in the hotel scene, be sure that Cohen made sure he was the one caught with his penis up someone else’s rear end, not the reverse), note--not to Brüno, than to strut about swishing your dick in everyone else's face.

Not a satire. Not social commentary. Brüno is a paean to the hyper-masculine--to the penis-empowered, in full (and brutal) disregard of the lay "pussy" victim. If America turns on to this film, it will be because Cohen has convinced them there is in fact something to be said for finding your dick halfway up someone else’s anus, a disaster for the truly "girly"-seeming, wherever they're to be found.


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