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Monday 14 May 2012

The Dictator

Almost ten years ago a friend invited me over to watch a video of a comedian she had just "discovered."  The video was Ali G's BBC TV show.  She had described his humour to me for weeks but I just didn't get it.  She would say things like "innit" and "check ya' self before ya' wreck ya' self..." and I would stare blankly at her.  I finally conceded and said I would watch - just to shut her up.

The episodes I viewed included a discussion with a feminist activist and Ali made a comment that women shouldn't be judges because they menstruate.  The guest was shocked and Ali said, "all me know is dat when me Julie have da' painters in da' house, everybody guilty..."  As shocked as I was at this type of humour, I found it hilarious.  He takes the piss out of serious, unsuspecting people and made a career out it.

Fast forward past Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G BBC show, the Ali G movie Indahouse, Ali G in America, Borat, Bruno and while I liked all of those characters, the brilliant humour sometimes came across as mean spirited.  Although it was always fun to watch any one of his characters take the piss out of racists, homophobes, liberals, conservatives, socialists, feminists, beach bums, square dancers, Donald Trump... everyone really.  Occasionally, he might have gone too far.  Borat singing "Throw the Jew down the well.. so my country can be free..." in a red neck bar with people happily singing along was a bit unnerving.

And speaking of possibly going too far, now we have The Dictator.  I say possibly because one never knows how people will react if offended by this film.  Let's face it, Sacha, while being a brilliant comedian (check out his Harvard commencement speech from 6 or 7 years ago http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ66pOtfOYg), he is Jewish and he appears to be taking the piss out of Islam, at least extremists.  Remember what happened to Salman Rushdie and the dude who drew the caricature of the prophet Mohamed?

As a trailer, The Dictator is more of the same Sacha Baron Cohen gags, only with a new character.  I like the fact that he stays in character when he's promoting the film and, like he did with Borat, causes a stir with the Hollywood establishment. 

Max Beerbohm said that, "nobody ever died of laughter."  I just hope that Sacha making us laugh doesn't upset the wrong people and get him put on some kind of hit list.  I'll say one thing:  dude has balls.

I'll see this one.

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