It’s pretty much impossible to argue that Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno isn’t funny. The reviews have been pretty favorable, but it’s my guess that if you found the most negative critic of Baron Cohen’s “if you weren’t uncomfortable at some point then you aren’t human” follow-up to his hit movie Borat and somehow went back in time and filmed this reviewer as he watched it, you’d certainly catch him laughing his way all the way to his irate disapproval. Had he still been alive, Jerry Falwell would have marched out of the movie theater in non-stop hysterics even as he dialed up his friends at the FCC trying to get the film banned.
When we stop laughing, it's perhaps time to ask ourselves the following: Is Baron Cohen a genius satirist or has he just been rewarded for being the first person in history to out-smut John Waters? I lean towards satirist, but one truly has to admit that Baron Cohen’s empire has largely been built on the recognition that most Americans start acting like three-year-olds when a penis is introduced into the equation. For the most part, this feature of the male anatomy has been pretty much kept under wraps. Kevin Bacon showed a glimpse of his for maybe a half a second in Wild Things, and even that was a big deal. If a woman pulls out a breast on a local bus, it’s the start of a party. If a man pulls out his penis, it’s time to call 911.
It’s hard to gauge whether Bruno should be viewed as a statement supporting homosexuality or a prime example of blatantly homophobic stereotyping — mostly because it’s so clearly both. There’s a large portion of society that finds the notion of two men rolling around on top of each other incredibly hilarious. You could argue that the laughter is there to cover up some unseemly, secret leanings, but I find it mostly true that there are tons of straight males out there with absolutely no problems with homosexuality who find nothing funnier than the notion of men having sex with other men. Toss in a midget and a bunch of sexual gags that make Benny Hill seem sophisticated and there you are, laughing and praying that you don't some day wind up in hell as a result. Howard Stern has made a small fortune mining this territory, and is extremely popular within the gay community for two reasons: he’s always spoken out in favor of gay issues, and the gay community has, for the most part, an appreciative camp sense of humor about itself.