How Gay-Friendly Is Bruno?
Posted 06.12.09 by reelz
Although Sacha Baron Cohen is (relatively) straight, the character he has created for Brüno draws on and pumps up nearly every stereotype of a gay man one can imagine. Not too surprisingly, this has stirred up a certain amount of controversy in the gay community, typically over-hyped in the Drudge Report headline: "Gay Groups Growing Concern Over Bruno."
Truth is, reactions are mixed. No one is accusing Cohen/Brüno of homophobia, but he sure does provoke it. And that's the point. Early on the movie was given the mock title "Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt." Plausible enough that several media outlets mistook it for the real thing.
In one particularly provocative scene shot in a southern honky-tonk, Brüno gets into some homoerotic cage-fighting, with a predictably ferocious audience response. A piece in the New York Times notes that filmmakers had contacted Elton John to see if they could use his hit from The Lion King, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," as an ironic counterpoint for the scene. Apparently, that was a little much for Sir Elton, who said no. But then he said yes to contributing to the movie's closing song.
The response of gay rights groups is similarly ambiguous. While some have expressed concerns, others find worrying about the educational value of Brüno a bit straight-laced.