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.