Ali Jesus

20/01/09 | Posted by MattPage

Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen has been discussing some of the plans for his next film Bruno. Borat caused such a stir that it led to a number of court cases, but, if anything, the new film looks to go a stage further.

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 Bruno - Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest incarnation

Firstly, Bruno is a gay Austrian fashion reporter who, like Borat before him, will tour around America posing awkward questions to his unsuspecting interviewees. When Bruno appeared in Da Ali G Show, much of the comedy was based on his guests’ obvious discomfort with his sexuality and it’s a fair bet that this will continue in this new movie.

But it’s the presence of one of Bruno’s friends - a black fashion model called Jesus - that is likely to be the biggest source of controversy. A recent article in The Sun revealed that the Jesus character will wear “a loincloth and a crown of thorns”. Needless to say, at a recent test screening, the more religious members of the audience were particularly unimpressed.

Yet whilst there’s an awful lot we don’t know about the movie, it seems reasonably clear that this character is not intended to be the real Jesus. Given Baron Cohen’s history, it seems more likely that the Jesus character is mainly there to provoke Bruno interviewees. It’s not exactly true to the message of Jesus, but it’s a far cry from the blasphemy that some are claiming. It seems far less offensive than the 2007 film The Ten where a character called Jesus used tricks such as walking on water to get women into bed. 

However, ultimately, Bruno is in danger of becoming needlessly spiteful. “Sacha has really gone for the shock tactics this time”, said a source close to the production. “The characters were created deliberately to wind certain sections of society up and Jesus is one of them.” Yet whilst exposing and mocking bigotry, even religious bigotry, is a valuable and important calling, striking right at the core of people’s deeply felt beliefs, for no other reason than to get a cheap laugh at their getting offended seems unnecessarily cruel. Here’s hoping such attitudes remain as unfashionable as Borat’s mankini. 

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Honestly, I cannot see how you can write that it is not blasphemy to create this character imitating the Son of Man; surely the fact that a crown of thorns is used as a fashion accessory is blasphemous - it is disrespect for sacred things.

#1. By Mark Fernandes on February 05, 2009

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