How Sacha Baron Cohen’s Characters Shaped What Film Comedy is Today

How Sacha Baron Cohen’s Characters Shaped What Film Comedy is Today

There was a point and time when few if any people could really stomach watching Sacha Baron Cohen and the characters he created. But what can’t be denied is that as reprehensible as they were they did in some way help to shape film comedy into what it is today. That might take a moment to wrap your head around but it’s very true since things tended to change a bit after Ali G, Borat, and Bruno came around. When they first hit the screen they were loathed by a lot of people, but that was largely because Cohen said exactly what he wanted and no one had any idea at first that it was an act and nothing else. Once it was realized that it was all an act people didn’t react much better, but public opinion did change, and so did comedy.

The act of changing any genre in this country when it comes to film or TV is a quick process that doesn’t come all at once, but instead changes over time. Beneath the surface people are constantly reinventing themselves to move with the trends, making certain their career can survive by going with the flow so to speak. Cohen kind of messed that flow up when he introduced his characters and really broke things up when he started getting famous for his act. The thing is, people started liking it. As disgusting as a lot of people found him, and still do today in fact, there were still those that would swear that his material was funny and his characters were absolute genius. It’s obvious that people continue to differ about this opinion but one thing we can all agree upon is that he did bring a wave of change to comedy, and I’ll explain why.

He didn’t stop when it came to crossing certain barriers.

When you look at all the stars, directors, and writers that have tiptoed around certain issues such as race, gender, sexual preference, and so on and so forth you can see that in comedy there has rarely been any room for those that bound over the line like Cohen did. Mel Brooks got away with it occasionally since his brand of comedy was easier to accept back in his day. That doesn’t mean it was any more right for being made, but when Bruno and Borat were made, people lost their minds because both characters crossed the line when it came to certain issues such as race without even blinking. Bruno was perhaps the worst of the two because there seemed to be no shame whatsoever and he was seemingly out to just get a reaction. Well to be honest he got that and more, as rumors of a boycott for these movies flew for all of a few days before dying down.

Obviously people didn’t take too well to the act at all times and there were incidents when it seemed like the people in the movie were more than willing to teach Cohen a lesson by reminding him that certain barriers weren’t meant to be crossed. But his continual need to cross them and keep on going without looking back kind of allowed him to persevere even as it painted him as a man that was willing to do anything for a laugh.

His take on women and feminism was a little skewed, but it served a purpose.

As the gay character of Bruno, he was pretty straightforward about how he felt concerning women and that would have been just fine as a working character quirk. But he took this so over the top that it was hard for many people to stomach and ended up ostracizing him from a good chunk of society. It’s a complicated thing to hate a character and not hate the actor playing them, but many people were of the mind that they absolutely hated Cohen no matter what character he was playing. And yet people watched him, they laughed at his comedy, and then turned around and said that it was absolutely tasteless. When it was seen that his movies started to affect the comedy genre people didn’t say a word. They went along with it, they laughed at it, and never gave a single thought to the fact that Cohen had created a ripple effect that made its way unerringly into the comedy world.

The views and words of his characters kind of woke people up to the issues in a way that they’d not considered before, and sparked something in many folks that continued to grow stronger as the years rolled on. This change in comedy was a long time coming however and Cohen simply picked up on it. Look at films like Freddy Got Fingered featuring Tom Green, and Ali G Inda House, and you’ll get the idea that he’s been influential to the world of comedy for a lot longer than you think.

His views are nothing new, he just took them out and dusted them off so people could be reminded of them once more.

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