WBEZ | the Dictator http://www.wbez.org/tags/dictator-0 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sacha Baron Cohen's 'The Dictator' is vile shtick http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/sacha-baron-cohens-dictator-vile-shtick-99884 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sacha%20baron%20cohen%20AP.jpg" title="Sacha Baron Cohen dressed as the eponymous dictator from his new film at Academy Awards in February. (AP/Matt Sayles)" /></div><p>Take note: Sacha Baron Cohen&#39;s <em>The Dictator</em> may well be the most important film of the year.</p><p>This is a bad thing. The film is vile, obscene, juvenile, manipulative, misogynistic and racist. Its intentional offensiveness legitimizes hate speech as a form of cheap humor. Its mechanism is degradation and humiliation of &quot;the other&quot;&ndash;people of other races, genders, colors, religions or beliefs. It&#39;s cleverly (but clumsily) structured to push the pleasure-seeking buttons of its intended audience, which primarily consists of two niche strands: pre-pubescent boys and adults seeking temporary refuge from the vitriol of Fox News. If you don&#39;t fit either demographic, there isn&#39;t much that&#39;s funny about <em>The Dictator</em>.</p><p>Baron Cohen is a relentless self-promoter. At Cannes this year, <a href="../../blogs/bez/2012-05/cannes-diary-selling-films-cannes-market-99316">he nearly fell off a camel</a> while riding down the Croisette during a publicity stunt. Even repeating this stupid story, of course, helps fuel the offensive entertainment empire Cohen&#39;s been building with his recent masterpieces, <em>Borat</em> and <em>Bruno</em>, the main targets of which were Kazakhstan and gays, respectively.</p><p>Dictators are fair game for filmic depiction or satire&ndash;just look at Chaplin&#39;s <em>The Great Dictator</em>, Barbet Schroeder&#39;s <em>Idi Amin Dada</em> or <em>The Last King of Scotland</em>. But this film trades in every imaginable stereotype in its depictions of so-called &quot;A-rabs,&quot; with their gilded city in the middle of the oil-pumping desert, and says nothing about political power and its corruption. It&rsquo;s a cynical, didactic and evil piece of pop culture which, sadly enough, is estimated to earn more than $260 million.</p><p>In the paranoid, isolationist worldview it clearly engenders, Arabs (and by implication, Muslims) are out to destroy Israel and the U.S. and are terrorists at heart. It&rsquo;s a viewpoint hardly constructive in moving the world toward peace.</p><p>Also: Should the eight- or ten-year-old boys viewing the film (with, one presumes, their parents) at a screening I attended really watch a scene of someone searching for a cell phone inside the vagina of a woman who recently gave birth? I doubt you can legitimately write this off as sex education.</p><p>And if that weren&rsquo;t enough: <em>The Dictator</em> also has some of the worst acting in a film of recent memory.</p></p> Fri, 08 Jun 2012 06:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/sacha-baron-cohens-dictator-vile-shtick-99884