July 11, 2009

Bruno: Some Commentary

Go See Bruno. No, seriously, I mean it. I saw Borat and wasn't a huge fan. It was shocking, but it didn't really make me think. Its targets were too easy. Yes, Americans and xenophobic, yes evangelical Christianity and the war on terror are out of control - in 2006, this really wasn't news to anyone I know who saw this film. In 2009, Bruno goes where Borat didn't; he risks his life interviewing real Hezbollah terrorists, he challenges homophobia, which in the US - a country that has taken against the War on Terror but where many people still vote to ban gay marriage - is definitely a more provocative issue in many ways. Even for those who claim not to be homophobic, Bruno challenges heterosexism. You have to watch men kisses and going down on each other and engaging in kinky fetishes. There are no "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" inhibitions. Bruno's sexuality is out in the open and he wants you to see it. You have to see it, and so it challenges you to ask yourself just how comfortable you are with homosexuality in public.

I have long contended that if you aren't okay with queer people holding hands or kissing in public, it doesn't matter if you think they should be allowed to get married, you're still somewhat heterosexist. Bruno tests the audience for heterosexism. Several people walked out of the screening I was in, and I was watching the movie in hip, youthful, liberal Islington in London. There were some genuinely potentially offensive scenes in the film, but none of them had to do with homosexuality, and the scenes where people walked out (never to return) were all scenes depicting men being sexually intimate with each other. I hope those people go home and do some introspection. If you can't sit through a two-hour movie about a gay fashion journalist, are you really not homophobic or heterosexist? Probably not.

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