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'Bruno': a homophobic and tedious failure of a film

By Colin Wilson - posted Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest comic persona, is an airheaded Austrian gay fashionista who has come to the US in search of fame.

Along this thin plot line are strung a series of scenes about Bruno’s homosexuality and the homophobia he provokes in people - from wrestling fans to army sergeant majors.

The first thing that strikes you is that this is a grotesquely homophobic film, a compendium of everything that a particularly bigoted 12-year-old boy might think he knows about gay people.


There’s an obsession with anal sex, which is treated as both revolting and hilarious.

Every teenage myth is referenced - from the belief that gay men have sex in front of children to the story that we push gerbils up each others’ backsides.


When homophobic bullying frequently goes unchallenged in schools, and Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles can use the word “gay” to mean “rubbish” with impunity, it’s depressing to imagine the effect this film will have for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) school students.

With its most memorable moments stressing that gay people are either absurd or revolting, it can only give confidence to bigots.

It’s no excuse that Baron Cohen also mocks homophobic Christians and US rednecks in the film.

Attacking both gays and bigots doesn’t make everything equal and leave us where we started - the film fails to take sides, and as such does nothing to undermine anyone’s anti-gay ideas.


The really strange thing for me is that this film is all about homosexuality, but there are no gay people in it.

In that sense it has as much to do with gay men as the Black and White Minstrel Show had to do with the reality of black people’s lives in the Deep South.

In both cases we have a bizarre series of stereotypes which end up being just plain offensive.

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First published in Socialist Worker Online on July 7, 2009.

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About the Author

Colin Wilson writes for Socialist Worker Online.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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