Friday, July 10, 2009

Sign of the Apocalypse - Part 2

John Brummet reviewed the new Sasha Baron Cohen film "Bruno" in his column this week.

Pasted below is a blog I wrote one year ago when the news was first released that the Beer and Brawl crowd in Fort Smith had been Punk'd.

In response to my own blog below on point #1: Cohen may be a little more of a household name now but he is still known through his characters. I wonder if the American viewing audience will appreciate the character of Bruno as much as they do Borat. After all, Borat is a lot like Yakov Smirnoff, and he's a hit in Branson - What a Country! Bruno, however, is too much like that nasty Euro race car character that Cohen played in Talledega Nights. I doubt that Bruno will do as well as Borat at the box office. Besides, now that more people are in on the joke now, the "Is this for real?" factor is much less.

In response to point #2: Did anyone really believe that Cohen was trying to promote gay marriage? Proponents of gay marriage hardly need Cohen's help. Besides, I doubt that Cohen really represents anything other than humiliating others and disguising it as clever satire. My sense was that Cohen's portrayal of Bruno would in fact offend the gay community. This article from a British website that reports gay news issues would seem to confirm that.

In response to point #3: I will say it again -- the event was deserving of contempt even if it really had been what was advertised. When it comes to martial arts, Cohen is the akido master of comedy and ridicule, he turns his opponent's own destructive energy against himself.
I understand that a lot of different people attended the mock cage fights in Texarkana and Fort Smith. I also understand that many fighters who take their sport seriously were surprised by the prank. But I don't understand the angry crowd that showed up for the promise of cheap beer and even cheaper thrills. They got punk'd (perhaps too easily) and they will be portrayed as ignorant homophobic rednecks indigenous to the Arklatex region. For the record, I wasn't at the Hot Chicks, Cold Beer, and Hardcore Fighting event. The crowd doesn't represent me. For better or worse, they are accountable for themselves.

Now here's last year's blog from the archive . . .

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sign of the Apocalypse

Fort Smith is in the news as the location of "Borat's" latest prank. We've been Punk'd. (I know, that's Ashton Kutcher, but it makes a point). If you want details, read the full report at The Smoking Gun. This has made the news worldwide.

The last time Fort Smith was in the news on this scale was two summers ago when a rainbow appeared in the sky with lightning. A different kind of rainbow and thunder was the focus of the recent prank. Attendees at a cage fight were enraged by two actors who engaged in PDHA - "public display of homosexual affection."

Here's what I find interesting about this imbroglio . . .

1. In America, Sasha Baron Cohen is known as Borat. Most Americans wouldn't recognize Cohen's real name. Congrats with that Borat.

2. Rumor has it that Sasha Baron Cohen filmed the prank eliciting the homophobic response as part of an effort to promote gay marriage. This is just a rumor, but assuming it has some element of truth, why would a parody of homosexual behavior make any sort of argument for gay marriage. Does "Borat" expect us to believe that his exaggeration is a representation of gay marriage? There are problems regardless of how one answers that question. If the goal was simply to expose redneck homophobia, how does that advance the legitimacy of homosexual marriage? This is a flawed causality.

3. Understandably, people are angry that Cohen has made them the butt of a joke. However, there's not a lot of redeemable content in an event that brags about "hot chicks, cold beer, hardcore fights." In other words, the event was deserving of contempt even before the actors stripped down to their underwear and started kissing.

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