Secular Right | Reality & Reason

May/12

25

Sasha Baron Cohen and the implicit hecker’s veto

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An interview of Sasha Baron Cohen on NPR:

GROSS: One of the things you stay away from in “The Dictator” is religion. We don’t know if this dictator is Muslim. There’s no mention of Islam, there’s no mention of the prophet Muhammad, and that’s a good thing, I think, because I don’t think it’s – I mean, Muslims are very offended by anything that parodies the religion but also especially it’s considered sacrilege to, you know, parody in any way the prophet. Did you intentionally try to avoid that so as not to be misunderstood, so as not to insult people who you had no interest in insulting?

BARON COHEN: Exactly. I mean, firstly again, he’s not an Arab dictator, and he actually says that he isn’t in the movie. And so we wanted to really ensure that he was not Arabic in any way. So we created a new language – well, I say that, but he actually speaks at times in Hebrew, which would be strange for…

Baron Cohen’s whole shtick is broadly offensive to huge swaths of the human race. Ask a Kazakh about how they feel after they were portrayed in Borat as anti-Semitic sister-copulating quasi-pederasts. If you listen to the interviewer’s tone of voice it’s pretty clear she’s been highly sensitized to Islamic norms. Contrast this to her blithe acceptance of Sasha Baron Cohen’s grossly inappropriate behavior in much of the American heartland. Not all offense is created equal.

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3 comments

  • Syon · May 26, 2012 at 1:57 am

    This one of the reasons why I find it strange when people praise Cohen or Bill Maher for their guts;satirizing Christians poses no threat. No one is going to threaten your life. Your career will not be jeopardized. Just once, I would like to see them show some genuine bravery and go after Islam with the same ferocity that they use for Christianity.

  • Marco · May 26, 2012 at 11:32 am

    It’s interesting to see Cohen going the plausible deniability route on this. Surely he knows that the film will be interpreted as “anti-Islamic” no matter what he says, no matter what terms the film leaves out. I’ve just read a review by Steve Sailer at Takimag which sees it that way: “The Dictator indulges in almost every derogatory stereotype I’ve ever heard about Arabs and/or Muslims. ” (http://takimag.com/article/comedy_that_never_forgets_steve_sailer#axzz1vvAhi4KJ” It’s a positive review by the way.

    If the film is perceived by enough Muslims as an attack on their precious religion, it won’t matter what a logical analysis of the content says. Cohen may be showing more courage than we think.

    I’ll probably give the film a try if it shows up later on Netflix. I tried to watch Borat, but got disgusted about halfway through.

  • Jeeves · May 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Contrast this to her blithe acceptance of Sasha Baron Cohen’s grossly inappropriate behavior in much of the American heartland. Not all offense is created equal.

    Satire is almost never even-handed; but you’re right: I was disquieted when watching Borat by the gratuitous “exposure” of Midwestern “prejudices” against, e.g., fecal humor. Pace Sailer’s positive review and Cohen’s whitewash of the content, I don’t really need to see Muslims satirized because it will add nothing to my loathing of their gutter religion.

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