Before I saw Brüno this evening, I had read gushing reviews heralding the film as a brilliant skewering of homophobia and ignorance.
I also read equally negative reviews, as well as complaints from several advocacy groups, slamming it as a faux-gay minstrel show that has the ultimate effect of promoting homophobia.
Given that Sacha Baron Cohen attended a rally for Proposition 8 as a potential scene for this movie, I had high hopes that this film would skewer the lunacy of homophobia.
But I nonetheless viewed it with an open mind, open to a spectrum of possibility, ready to opine on the matter.
Alas, I just finished watching it and I only have one strong opinion about this film: it is exceptionally apolitical.
It's just two hours of extreme pranks with a brave provocateur who had the sole goal to shock and awe.
Spoiler alert: Consider the Ron Paul scene. For me, the idea of Brüno tricking Ron Paul into making a sex tape is delicious with potential. Ron Paul, after all, is one of many politicians opposed to fully extending marriage rights to gays and lesbians. However, the scene is funny only to the extent that it is funny to see any random person -- regardless of their politics or sexual orientation -- being Punk'd by a fake gay Austrian fashionista who tries to seduce him. Plus, Ron Paul is no Rick Santorum.
Sacha Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles seemed driven by a purpose beyond entertainment in only one scene: when they exposed the lunacy of stage parents willing to sacrifice anything to land their kids a gig. (Those five minutes, in my opinion, were well worth the price of admission.)
In contrast, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was a thoughtful satire that had the partial goal of exposing some subtle forms of prejudice that Americans have towards immigrants.
What Borat and Brüno have in common, however, is that both films left me a hundred times more fascinated in the guerrilla tactics used to make the movie than the finished products themselves.
Long after I've forgotten about specific scenes from these movies and the television show, I will continue to wonder how so many people were duped into signing consent forms and remaining on camera even after the hijinks started.