A ‘Dictator’ Mocks America’s Enemies

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Overlooked among the nominees at the 84th annual Oscars last weekend was a rather riveting drama called The Devil’s Double, starring Dominic Cooper in a brutal tale based on the true story of a man forced to serve as the body double for Saddam Hussein’s monstrous son Uday. It stood out among the normally politically correct entertainment industry fare as unique in its condemnation of the sadistic Arab dictator and his even more perverse son. But Dominic Cooper isn’t exactly a household name and the film didn’t exactly set the box office on fire.

Along comes Jewish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, however, who is much more well-known thanks to his publicity antics and his 2006 prankster hit Borat, which raked in upwards of $260 million worldwide. Cohen has co-written and starred in the upcoming comedy The Dictator, Paramount’s “heroic story of a Middle Eastern dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy never comes to the country he so lovingly oppressed.”

Cohen has clearly modeled The Dictator on a satirical amalgam of such evil icons as Saddam and recently deposed Libyan lunatic Muammar Qadhafi, right down to the latter’s female bodyguards. Not since the outrageous comedy Team America: World Police by the fearless South Park satirists has a film promised to boldly go where no one else in Hollywood dares – the usually taboo criticism of America’s totalitarian enemies.

Not a subject for laughter, you say? Fair enough, but comedy can have an impact that drama cannot. Writers through the ages have successfully employed satire and farce to empower their audiences to confront ugly realities of power, politics, and war. With drama, the entertainment industry has had mixed success at best coming to grips with the threat of, for example, Islamic terrorism; Hollywood tends to infuse such movies with predictable anti-Americanism, heavy-handed leftist preaching, and moral equivalence that drive away audiences in droves. But comedy, handled correctly, can open up an accessible perspective – and a broader audience – on normally grim contemporary topics.

Last week the iconoclastic Cohen ran afoul of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which pulled his tickets to the Academy Awards show because he intended to walk the red carpet as the title character Shabazz Aladeen from The Dictator. Purists felt, oddly, that the Oscars is no place for blatant self-promotion which might demean Hollywood’s most pompous – er, prestigious event:  “The red carpet is not about stunting,” an Academy spokesperson maintained.

In response to the ban, Cohen released this hilarious video response, delivered in character as the Dictator. In it, His Excellency Admiral General Aladeen greets “the Great Satan of America” and expresses his outrage at having been banned from the Oscars by “the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Zionists.” Although he “applauds the Academy for taking away my free speech,” he threatens “unimaginable consequences” if he doesn’t get his invitation back. He is also upset that films from his country of are not represented among the nominees:

Where are the nominations for such classic films as When Harry Kidnapped Sally, You’ve Got Mail-Bomb, and Planet of the Rapes?

After complaining that his Sunday calendar “is now as empty as a North Korean grocery store,” His Excellency closes the video response by wishing, “Death to the West! Death to America! And good luck [Oscars host] Billy Crystals [sic] – you’re fantastic!”

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  • marsconi

    So true!

  • ctmctm

    Sascha Baron Cohen needs to be the US' next Secretary of State.

  • dirt

    Those dictators knew very well that Islam world can not have democracy because the book says so. And the West's useful idiots still believe that they are smarter than the book.

  • davarino

    I am surprised Hollywood wasnt booing him for making fun of some of their heroes.

  • muchiboy

    It is reassuring to see that satirism is alive and well in America.God Bless America.muchiboy

    • Captain America

      muchiboy; it's murderous ISLAMIC tyrants he is satirizing. It is the evils of Islam, and it's anti-democratic & totalitarian ways he is satirizing. This film won't be screend in any muslim country.

  • JimK

    He's obviously been studying Marx, the bros that is, not Karl.

  • tagalog

    Sacha Baron Cohen is a bit of an acquired taste. From what I've seen of his movies, he can be a bit grating, and some of his stuff gets old long before he gets tired of beating on it, but I like the idea of "Shabazz Aladeen," love it! What would Betty Shabazz think?

    • http://www.whycanadamustend.com Tony Kondaks

      What would Betty Shabazz think? Not much, considering her grandson burned her to death.

      • tagalog

        Her grandson Malcolm, I would add. I guess he'd be Malcolm XI.

  • Jim_C

    Pretty good. Borat was really funny; didn't care for Bruno, though.

    Any comedian/satirist worth their salt goes for hot-button issues, so Cohen is the real deal.

  • koran kid

    Respect!

  • KSoldier

    This was so much funnier when Woody Allen did it (first) in "Bananas."

  • Pete

    I think Sacha is making up for a bit of anti-Americanism in Borat. I'm talking about the rodeo scene where he made fun of "your war on terror," then went on to sing the national anthem. I may be the only person who thought it was disrespectful. Other than the crowd at the rodeo. The scene made the local news. People were pissed.

  • Questions

    Cohen has been a live wire for a long time. Anyone out there see "Da Ali G Show?" back when it was on HBO?

  • http://www.whycanadamustend.com Tony Kondaks

    Baron-Cohen is wildly entertaining and I literally fell off my seat watching several scenes of “Borat".

    But I can't forget his careful choice of venues to stage his "Throw the Jews Down the Well" song as "Borat" during an episode of his old HBO show "Ali G". He went to rural Arizona and finagled his way on to the stage under the guise of Borat, a visiting journalist from a foreign land, to try his hand at a country and western bar. Using selective editing, he sang the outrageously anti-Semitic song and had his video people focus on the audience members who he enticed to sing along with him…which they did.

    Upshot: good, decent Arizona residents came off as raging anti-Semites. I suggest that Baron–Cohen could have just as easily chosen a bar in downtown L.A. or New York and gotten the same result considering he would, in any place he chose to go, have had access to a large group of inebriated individuals more than willing to mouth words to a song they could hardly hear.

    See the video for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb3IMTJjzfo

    • tagalog

      When you're accepting humorists who deal in outrageous behavior, you have to take what you get. Remember Andy Kaufman.

    • Nancy

      Embarrassing America is not at all what Borat was about. Borat's hometown had the parade with an ugly Jew float and his "country" is Muslim. His wife: "She girl, she no have name!". My take on the movie is Yankees nearly killed him and he had to go south to find people tolerant enough, even the Jewish couple, to be hospitable despite his horrible, rude Islamic insanity. He was mocking Muslims, not Americans. Later, when the president of Turkmenistan (or whatever) condemned the movie, "Borat" responded he would kill that Jew, Sasha Cohen. Brilliant!

  • Jaladhi

    In O'Reily's terminology, Cohen is a patriot and not a pin head!!

  • maturin20

    FPM has such a fanboy relationship with Hollywood. It's not healthy. Get out doors sometimes, guys, join a softball league. Go meet some girls at the community center, unless your restraining order forbids it.

  • john gerard

    Borat the movie wasn’t funny to me, because I’d seen it all before, done much better by him on the ’11 O’clock’ show in the UK twelve years or more ago. Look up the clips on YouTube – they’re much funnier than the film, as they’re not staged. There are some moments that are truly 100% Peter Sellers, particularly when he goes to Houston to a wine club, which is just beautiful. There’s no other word for it…

  • john gerard

    Addendum: it’s not Houston, it’s Jackson, Mississippi. I don’t know why I thought it was Houston.

  • Sound&Fury

    I wonder if his new film contains any digs at Mr. Obama for his "friendship" with Israel. With friends like that…

  • RUI

    "he is doing what no other established star in Hollywood seems both capable of and willing to do" is just a polite way to say that Cohen has the balls others could never have!

  • Ghostwriter

    What's going on here? Why aren't my comments here staying? Did I do something wrong?

  • Ghostwriter

    This isn't the first time Hollywood has made fun of dictators. In the late 1930's and '40's,a number of films made fun of Adolf Hitler,most notably "The Great Dictator" by Charlie Chaplin. In the 1990's,the "Hot Shots!" films made fun of Saddam Hussein. More recently,"Team America:World Police" made fun of Kim Jong-Il. I wish they'd make fun of people like Hugo Chavez.

  • Ghostwriter

    This isn't the first time Hollywood has made fun of dictators. In the late 1930's and '40's,a number of films made fun of Adolf Hitler,most notably "The Great Dictator" by Charlie Chaplin. In the 1990's,the "Hot Shots!" films made fun of Saddam Hussein. More recently,"Team America:World Police" made fun of Kim Jong-Il. I wish they'd make fun of people like Hugo Chavez.