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In the end, the negative publicity incurred by the ban pressured the Academy to back down and allow “The Dictator” to walk the red carpet, which Cohen did in full dictator regalia, flanked by two sexy bodyguards a là Gadhafi. The Dictator greeted interviewer Ryan Seacrest with “Death to the West!” In response to Seacrest’s obligatory fashion question – “Who are you wearing?” – he replied, “John Galliano,” an insider reference to the fashion designer whose drunken, anti-Semitic rant (“I love Hitler!”) was caught on video a year ago.
Cohen also claimed to be carrying an urn containing the ashes of “close friend and doubles tennis partner Kim Jong-Il,” which he proceeded to spill all over a displeased Seacrest and the carpet, prompting an instant response from Academy security (some perhaps rightly suspect that the entire fiasco was collusion between Cohen and the Academy to bring attention to both parties).
The website for The Dictator is set up as a faux tribute to dictator Aladeen and his fictional country of Wadiyah. It features actual web links to North Korea, Iran, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Robert Mugabe, among others. The calendar notes such events as Holocaust Remembrance Day (“At this somber occasion, Aladeen remembers all those who were so tragically released from Auschwitz”), UN inspections (“MAKE SURE YOU HAVE MEMORIZED YOUR LINES AND STICK TO THE SCRIPT OR ELSE”), and the anniversary of the death of the Dictator’s father (“Everyone will spontaneously start weeping for 16 hours starting at 7:00 AM”).
The site’s tourism link features such attractions as the Wadiyah Museum of Tolerance (“Women, Jews, and disabled not allowed”) and the National Parliament Building (“The perfect state of our nation has rendered political debate superfluous. Which means you can visit this cavernous empty chamber on any day. What so-called Western democracy can say that?”). The site also contains brief histories of Wadiyah and of Aladeen himself (“Aladeen is born. He delivers himself, cuts his own umbilical cord, and immediately delivers a most-inspiring speech criticizing the treachery of the Western nations”).
While comedian Will Ferrell ridicules former President George W. Bush, and Tina Fey mocks Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin, Sacha Baron Cohen takes humiliating potshots at America’s Jew-hating totalitarian enemies. Hate him or love him, whatever you think about Cohen, his sense of humor, or his in-your-face style, he is doing what no other established star in Hollywood seems both capable of and willing to do.
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