Sunday, August 2, 2009

Funkyzeit mit Brüno and Tobi

On a whim and against our better judgment, Tobi and I went to see Brüno, the widely panned, sexually explicit and thoroughly offensive gay mockumentary.

We loved it. Go figure.

I went to this movie prepared to be bored and offended but was neither. I think it helped that I never saw Sacha Baron Cohen's previous film Borat. The schtick is pretty much the same in both films, and it's not something that you would necessarily want to see twice. It also helped that I had read fairly terrible reviews. Somehow we have a tendency to judge a movie relative to our expectations rather than on an absolute scale.

So, with those disclaimers let me say why I think this is a funny, subversive but ultimately harmless piece of fluff.

The central character, Brüno, is a ridiculous cartoon, not an actual person. He's like the roles in Wilde's ultrafunny Importance of Being Earnest, as largely drawn as Lady Bracknell. No one tries to understand Lady Bracknell's back story; she's just too absurd for that. Similarly, Brüno is best seen as a vehicle for jokes and nothing else. Lack of realistic characterization is not necessarily a fault; Wilde's Earnest, packed as it is with unbelievable characters, is just about the funniest script in existence.

Brüno is the distilled essence of every offensive gay stereotype you can imagine. He's the absurd projection of bigoted fears. In a way he's a Rorschach ink blot. Those who are uncomfortable with gay people, and who buy into the character, will find their prejudices amply confirmed. Yet, the film makes it clear in subtle and not so subtle ways that the fears themselves are the subject of parody, not gay people.

Like almost all good satire, no one is safe in Brüno. It's not only about homophobia (although the interview with the odious Paul Cameron was worth the price of admission). Overall, I found it surprisingly gentle. It's not particularly mean spirited, just silly.

I do understand that Brüno is not for everyone. It is sexually explicit. It does use offensive gay stereotypes for comedic effect. Brüno does in fact proposition Ron Paul. However, if you do decide to see this film and go with your sense of the absurd primed and ready for action, you might be pleasantly surprised, as I was.

5 comments:

santorio said...

okay, it's on my short list; Borat triggered a lot of laughs, but then guilt afterwards for laughing at people instead of with them.

Sabayon said...

I would have thought propositioning Ron Paul to be a point in its favor.
In any case, I absolutely know what you mean about judging a movie based on expectations. I recently saw the new Transformers movie, expecting it to be a thoroughly awful catastrophe of a movie and was therefore so proud of it when they managed a few good jokes (incidentally that movie is best understood not as an action adventure, but as a farce) that I came away thinking "that was a surprisingly decent movie" and I'm sure I would not have felt that way had I expected an actually good movie.
I'll have to go see Bruno then
It occurs to me that you would probably appreciate this review of Star Trek as an allegory of gay subcultures: http://the-panopticon.blogspot.com/2009/05/do-gay-martians-have-right-to-marry.html

MoHoHawaii said...

Hi Santorio,

Go see it, but don't blame me if you hate it. In good taste it is not.

Hi Sabayon,

I threw that Ron Paul bit in there just to see if you were paying attention. I feel sorry for Mr. Paul (he got ambushed). On the other hand, his anti-gay animus came through loud and clear, so I don't feel that sorry for him.

One of things I found interesting in the movie is how prejudice makes you very, very gullible. Since prejudice is already a distortion of perception, you are already in a reality-free zone. For example, it was amazing to me that the reparative therapist bought into the scenario hook, line and ball gag. It's interesting to watch this effect on screen. It really underscores the fact that prejudice is a cognitive defect.

Thanks for the Star Trek tip. I'll check it out that review.

Mary Child said...

Hi there. I feel a bit like I am peeping, as I don't have any real reason to be reading your blog. I am pretty much your typical Mormon girl living the traditional life I was expected to live. When the whole prop 8 thing broke out last year, I REALLY struggled (I live in CA), b/c as much as I wanted to support my leaders, it felt discriminitory (and just plain wrong) to vote Yes on 8. At that time, I came across Craig's blog (Yes I Am) and was so intrigued with him and his story. I'm not a regular reader of his (he's much too liberal with his use of the F bomb!), but today I looked it up to see what he's been up to. I don't really know why! My heart really goes out to gay Mormons I guess. For those who try to stay active, for those who leave and deal with the family fall-out and disappointment... It's just such a hard thing. Then I ran across Sarah's blog (and actually cried!) and from hers I ended up on yours. I just don't know what I think!!!

I struggle with my "tesimony" a lot and don't consider myself a strong member, but still remain active and haven't given up hope that someday, I'll feel at peace... Life is just hard. For everyone, apparently, regardless of the particular struggles.

Anyway, if I may be so intrusive as to ask a question, what does MoHo mean? Also, being in Sacramento I hadn't heard of the "Plaza" incident, and I am saddened by the Church's response. Both the behavior of the security guards and the fluffed & carefully crafted official statement released by the Church later. It's disheartening to realize that there indeed may be a beauracratic agenda that obviously trumps integrity...

Why can't things just be black & white? It would make everything so much easier!!!

MoHoHawaii said...

Hi Mary Child,

Thanks for stopping by. You're certainly welcome here! Feel free to read and comment! You don't need a reason.

To answer your question, MoHo means Mormon homosexual. MoHoHawaii = the Mormon homo from the Aloha State. (I live on the mainland now, however.)

P.S. I like Sarah's blog, too.