Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Flicked Off: "Bruno"

BRUNOBruno is a semi-guerilla comedy semi-documentary about an extremely annoying, self-involved, sexually-predatory, sexually-harassing, apolitical Austrian gay man played by a heterosexual British citizen from an Orthodox Jewish family of complicated history.


I do not care if Bruno is good for the gays. You know what is good for the gays? A nice dinner at a very expensive restaurant with exceptional service and a dessert on the house, followed by, most likely at a different location, some good old-fashioned ass-fucking. Also maybe a week-long trip to a tiny island on the eastern side of the Peloponnesus.

I think that now it is impossible for a film or television experience to be "good" or "bad" for any group of people. There is no overwhelming media; there is no visual industry that can sway a society, maybe not even incrementally. You know what is good for the gays? Facebook. Also getting it on in rooms with lots of mirrors.


There are a couple few very true things, in my vast experience, about gay men, besides that they like a great vacation. One is that in at least one point in absolutely any interaction with another man, except in times of life-threatening emergency or other extreme distraction, a gay man has thought, of the other man, "What would it be like to fuck him?"

Gay men are predatory animals, with sex often foremost on their minds, when they are not practicing ikebana or shopping.

Although. All men, to be sure, are constantly thinking about putting body parts inside other body parts. Men think about sex a lot!

Hmm! Hold the phone. So this is really a way in which mammals of both genders are alike, don't you think? One day at an office where I worked, I sat around with the women and we had a long, strongly-opinionated conversation about which male co-worker was the most well-hung. (We all pretty much came to the same conclusion.)

Then the women probably went down to Anthropologie to look at the new clothes. Women!

Why does the idea that all gay men are predatory linger? When you compare the numbers, 15% of men who lived with other men in couples reported sexual assaults or stalkings, but a whopping 25% of women college students reported sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults, bout 3/4s of those by men known to them. So men are actually predatory, as they are burdened with chemicals and penises; gay men slightly less so, because they are burdened with socialization.


Recently, while scheduling an interview for "mainstream media outlet" with a mid-level celebrity personage, I was sent a release form. "Attached is a nondisclosure agreement," wrote the publicist handling. Lots of other people were going to be interviewing this personage, and "practically everyone has signed an NDA," emailed the publicist, after she received my flabbergasted email (written mostly in all-caps). She meant journalists! The NDA said that some information I might learn in the course of reporting might be what they called Confidential Information:

I shall not myself… prepare or assist in the preparation of any audio visual or written work or any other work, material or project whatsoever that depicts, concerns or relates in any way to the Program or my presence or participation in the production of the Program or to any Confidential Information hereto…. I agree to pay Producer, and its successors, licensees and assigns, at least the sum of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) per breach plus disgorgement of any income that I may receive now or in the future, as liquidated damages in the event I breach this Agreement at any time… I will return all documents, notes, copies, or other materials provided by Producer or created by me which contain Confidential Information to Producer…."

It may make for their disappointment that I do not have "One Million Dollars," not that that is an issue, as of course I did not sign it. In any event, it is an NDA so absurd and onerous that you might think it would make the process of actually speaking to anyone (much less reporting) totally useless.

And yet: apparently "practically everyone" signed this. So we know that people will sign a release form the second anyone hands one to them, even when it runs counter to their best interests.

And that is just like how everyone ended up in Bruno. "Oh, we are making a documentary about an Austrian television star; sign this, please." That particular release surely says, if anyone has ever actually read it, that the company doing the shooting may utilize all recordings made of the release-signer and exploit them in any and all media, including "selling" those recordings to a related company, one that is producing a different film.

It's even easier if you're staging an event. "Signed the waver, left the phones and everything in the truck, checked our ID's at least twice," wrote an attendee of a staged Bruno event in Arkansas, before he was, you know, surprised by what he described as a "fag makeout session" and what I describe as "just another Saturday night."

When did we become a people so willing, in some cases so desperate, to be filmed, that we sign away limitless and unintelligible rights at the drop of a hat?


How come everyone is so flipped out about what Tony Scott referred to as "a specially modified exercise machine" in the Times today (answer: IT IS MODIFIED TO HAVE A DILDO ON IT!) but no one ever mentioned an essentially-similar product put to use in the Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading? Does it just look better next to George Clooney? A perusal of the Internet will demonstrate, in any event, that these sorts of things seem to find generally, though not totally, heterosexual use, in any event. Also they are mostly funny-gross. Bruno parodies gay sex quite outrageously. But at the end of the movie, all I could really think was that sex is always really gross, whether you are dressing up for it or not. Consider the blow job! Consider it again! You're going to put the weird wrinkling peeing thing in your WHERE? Because WHY, AGAIN?


Outside the Bruno screening, I did see:

A. One woman in her early 30s in a totally adorable outfit who had laughed at the movie but had felt very conflicted about it and also felt quite a bit as if she'd been punched.

B. One devastatingly good-looking gay man, born 1964, who was violently and not at all wrongly upset.

C. One cheery gay man, in his 60s, who thought it was the funniest thing he'd ever seen and was absolutely all smiles.

D. A group of oddly good-looking people in their 20s, who all quite enjoyed the movie, but all sheepish about saying so and felt guilty because their gay friend had just left and was totally miffed by the movie.

E. And me, who is going to delay a hasty judgment just this once, until after he sees it again with his boyfriend. I might hate it! I might think it's funny and stupid! I'm still impressed by anything that riles people up so strongly. Though of course, as Bruno would point out, Hitler riled people up too, didn't he.

28 Comments / Post A Comment

Vulpes (#946)

I don't know whether this movie is "good for the gays" or what that means or whatever, but as someone with a too-keen-for-my-own-good sense of empathy, I just can't stand to watch SBC's style of humor, whether it be Bruno or Borat, which is mostly about showing people being idiots. Yes, they ARE idiots, and they literally signed up for it, but I get far too uncomfortable and embarrassed for them, even if they deserve it, to relax enough to laugh. I'm too busy squirming and imagining myself in their place being humiliated, which is like my worst fear anyway.

Plus, there is a whiff of minstrelry to Bruno, in that SBC is actually a straight man who can just take the wig off, as it were. And the truth is if he actually was threatened, the crew and security would be there to bail him out. So he's basically getting to act outrageous with no real risk, which someone who actually WAS like Bruno would probably have gotten himself killed.

And n answer to 3, I think it's always sort of been there, because look at all the people that did/continue to head to Hollywood for the merest chance at stardom, but I think we can blame the Internet for the famewhoredom of today. Somehow. We blame everything else on it.

Uglatto (#938)

Totally agree. Doing and saying outrageous things with the benefit of a camera crew to back you up while playing a winking, gross caricature–whether it’s Ali G, Borat, or Bruno–is just not funny to me. His victims may deserve the onscreen humiliation but I have no interest in watching it.

GiovanniGF (#224)

Although I find Sasha Baron Cohen very funny, I couldn't watch Borat for the same reasons as you. I literally ran out of the room while my wife watched it. I simply won't be able to watch Bruno.

BadUncle (#153)

Yeah, this kind of work makes me cringe. And I hate cringing.

joeclark (#651)

If I understand recent press coverage correctly, where blogs (short for “Web logs”) are included in the notion of “press,” this is the conventional intellectual complaint against Bruno. It appeared in the same week that the conventional intellectual complaint against The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work was that the billionaire’s-son transplant author wasn’t actually mocking the lower orders. I see it all averages out.

That's Sympathetic Shame Syndrome also known as the Tarded Tingles.

BoHan (#29)

The Hurt Locker opens in the sticks tomorrow, which makes me very lucky I get to finally see that and don't have to see this. One point worth mentioning is why do almost all straight men think they are such awesome gay man fuck-bait? Does this movie touch on that premise, and how? Because this annoys me! Yes, some of them, say 10%, I would fuck, but almost surely they would have to get their mouths duct-taped first, lest they start reciting X-Tube video dialogue.

You are just mad because you want to fuck me, but can't.

BoHan (#29)

Whoa. Bradley Cooper on The Awl! Is that really you? Forget what I said about duct tape master.

josh_speed (#97)

#1 is hilarious. But they won't get my 13$ box office money for this piece of shit for the same reason I don't go to P*r*z H*lt*n's site: it would only encourage someone who I want very badly to go away to stick around.

hman (#53)

"…gay men slightly less so, because they are burdened with socialization."
Hah. Yes.

Also, other men hit harder.

Rod T (#33)

I'm seeing it with a group of 21 friends tomorrow at 9:30 tomorrow. I've slept with three of the guys and intend to sleep with a fourth sometime soon. There will be competition about who brings the best snacks from Garden of Eden and anyone that buys the largest size of anything will be mocked. Afterwards we will go to a bar that has a gay party in the basement where one of the friends will be We will drink liquids and put powders in our noses. Some of the more sad ones will puff on cigarettes from time to time. Eventually I will bring one of them home with me (not the Jewish one or the one that is allergic to my cat) and we will fuck and then cuddle for the night. I will receive text messages from the ones I do not leave with which I will reply to in the morning with "totally in bed by then, puddles" which will not be a lie because I have a houseguest from Italy on the sofa, and it would be rude to fuck in the living room at this time. In the morning, I'll make a breakfast of either a bacon, egg, and cheese wrap or blueberry pancakes assuming the Italian has stepped out, as he probably will during the likely loud and rigorous morning sex that will occur before the breakfast. As I walk them to the subway, because I am a gentleman and because my laundry will be ready to pick up, I'll look at them from time to time and wonder if this could ever be a "relationship", but then my professionally diagnosed AvPD will remind me that it would never work, and I'll give them a kiss good-bye, utilizing the reflections of shop-windows to notice if they look back as we casually walk away from one another.

And now I have to go check on the electrician and the plumber, because I'm a working man.

Vulpes (#946)

Only 3 out of 21? That's a mere 14%! You don't like your friends much, do you?

Tuna Surprise (#573)

You make being gay sound like its loads of fun! I would sign up but I have just diagnosed myself as having AvPD (thanks Wikipedia!) and I wouldn't want to get rejected by the gays too.

On the bright side, liquidated damages are rarely held to be enforceable.

Fredrick (#268)

I dunno. I have to find someone smart to see this with–I'm not easily offended, EXCEPT when it comes to minstrel-y gay stuff. I like Bruno on the Ali G Show, but I'm nervous.

zidaane (#373)

Still waiting for the newfangled ass fucking to take off.

Bittersweet (#765)

*snort* Logistical problems. Don't hold your breath.

I'm a total Cohen virgin (don't watch tv, had heard 50-too-many Borat impressions at work, so had no desire to see the film), and am seeing 'Bruno' tomorrow night. I expect to be alternately gut-bust laughing and oddly troubled throughout. Based on my virginal ignorance, I suspect Cohen means to make both straights and gays question stuff about gays. The shallowness of gay culture excess may seem offensive coming from a straight actor, but it's not like we haven't said/thought these things amongst ourselves, right?

As for item 1's 'good for the gays' idea about a great meal followed by good old fashioned ***-f***ing (sorry, I'm at work), that could be problematic. Don't pretend you don't know what I mean. Couldn't we just f*** first, and then dine?

rj77 (#210)


I didn't know this was a word.

El Matardillo (#586)

I'm looking forward to being written up by HR for all the Bruno jokes I tell at lunch after having seen it, just like I did with Borat.

My boss is Ned Flanders.

Bittersweet (#765)

Ass fuckely-duckeling?

Abe Sauer (#148)

"impossible for a film or television experience to be "good" or "bad" for any group of people. There is no overwhelming media; there is no visual industry that can sway a society, maybe not even incrementally." Leni Riefenstahl would differ, and so would I.

I think your statement is closer if you drop the "incrementally." I would say that society has been swayed a tremendous deal by incremental visual media.

missdelite (#625)

"I think that now it is impossible for a film or television experience to be "good" or "bad" for any group of people. There is no overwhelming media; there is no visual industry that can sway a society, maybe not even incrementally."

Abso-fucking-lutely true.

BlinkyMcChuck (#202)

Hello from the islands of Greece! Yes, I can report, it is good for the gays here. The lesbians in particular are quite happy here. Also! Many men here who appear to have no particular orientation except towards sex with anyone who will let their thingie be inside them!

I think it's paradise. Anyway, good luck figuring out if you hate this or not.

KarenUhOh (#19)

I'm afraid it'll turn me into an Austrian.

scottrevo (#1,091)

Wow I really like the multi-directional breakdown here, managing to address the movie itself and add something fresh to the 'is Bruno good/bad for teh gayz' dialog…

But, unfortunately, that is all obliterated by my heartache over your boyfriendedness! MEGASIGH. But good luck/fuck to you, sir!

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