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    November 28, 2006

    The joke's not on you, Austria

    Posted by: Chris

    BrunoUPDATE: More Bruno naughtiness, this time with straight spring breakers in Daytona Beach, follows the jump.

    Austrian tourist marketers are quaking in their jackboots about how a flaming queen named Bruno might smear the country's reputation among potential visitors. Bruno is actually Sasha Baron Cohen, whose Borat character put Kazakhstan on the map, and not in a good way.

    Universal Studios announced that Borat will be succeeded by Bruno "a gay, stupid, self- centered and Nazi-adoring Austrian, lifestyle journalist." Bruno works along the same lines as Baron Cohen's alter ego Borat Sagdiyev from "Da Ali G Show." Both show alarming dress sense, misbehave unscrupulously and provoke even more embarrassing reactions from their unsuspecting, but often not undeserving victims.

    Bruno hosts "Funkyzeit mit Brueno (Funky Time with Brueno)" on a fictional Austrian TV channel, conducts interviews on fashion, celebrities and homosexuality. Needless to say, disaster is never far behind, once Bruno starts torturing interviewees in his faux-German accent.

    If the Bruno sequel follows the lead of Borat's original, the Austrians don't have too much to worry about. In "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," the segments in Kazakhstan were over-the-top characterizations that were clearly staged with willing participants (who weren't even in Kazakhstan). It came off as a silly spoof of what we Westerners think places like Kazakhstan must be like.

    The same can't be said for the good ole U.S. of A. Cohen stayed in character as Borat and interacted with red-blooded Americans who for the most part had no idea they were part of a comedy. Borat caught many of these Americans reflecting absolutely the worst of our society: racism, sexism, wacky speaking-in-tongues church worshipers, snotty politicians and on and on.

    No word yet whether Cohen is unleashing Bruno on America, or sticking to Europe for his victims. But if this clip of Bruno from "Da Ali G Show," interviewing a Christian minister from my own hometown of Little Rock, Ark.,  is any indication, it's the Americans again who will be wincing (or should be):

    No doubt the gay version of Austrian tourist marketers — the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation — will be watching Bruno's stereotyping.  I hope they keep their sense of humor. Cohen's targets are generally the proudly ignorant and prejudiced, and gay culture certainly offers some examples of that. But my guess is that, like Kazakhs, gays and Austrians will come in for some over-the-top tweaking, while the real daggers are out for red-white-and-blue bigotry.

    For more Bruno hilarity, follow the jump:

    UPDATE: A Citizen-Reader sent along this hilarious clip of Bruno taking full gay advantage of some hyped-up straight spring breakers in Daytona Beach, Fla.:

    Here's Bruno introducing gay Austria to what he calls "the gayest place in America: Alabama!":



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    1. Jaron on Jul 7, 2009 3:53:12 AM:

      That's also what I sensed about the movie. The media as usual has a way of totally playing up a non-story-- I was in Austria recently myself for a project, and nobody was even slightly bothered by Brüno. If anything, most people figured it might draw some attention to the country and boost interest in it and, as you said, whatever it does say about Austria (which isn't much) is so over-the-top ridiculous that it's an obvious caricature.

      OTOH, the United States of America does indeed get hit hard as you're suspecting. In fact, Cohen seems to have again found a way to cast the harshest light on (and elicit laughs about) some of the worst of American tendencies. That's the basis of the humor in Bruno and Cohen's humor overall-- he sees both the British and Americans as full of themselves and unaware of their own hypocrisy and cluelessness about some basic issues, and thus easy marks for his satire. Which is, of course, the basis of satire in the first place.

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