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Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Dictator’ Act Not Welcome at the Oscars

Posted on Feb 23, 2012
The Huffington Post

This year, Sacha Baron Cohen can thank the Academy Awards for giving his latest politically flavored comedy, “The Dictator,” some excellent free publicity. Not that he didn’t engineer it himself. 

On Wednesday, Deadline Hollywood doyenne Nikki Finke reported that Baron Cohen had been “banned” from Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, even though he’s one of the stars of Martin Scorsese’s highly acclaimed “Hugo,” because the British prankster wanted to show up in full “Dictator” regalia. Engaging in this kind of sartorial spoof, evidently, would fly in the face of austere academy regulations—in other words, that’s just not done.

Except, as Finke pointed out in her column, it kind of is. Now the Oscar planners risk coming off like stuffy fuddy-duddies, and Baron Cohen could enjoy a big PR boost for his new movie simply by not showing up. Or, if the academy backs down, he gets to plug his project in character. Either way, he wins.  —KA

Nikki Finke in Deadline Hollywood:

The Dictator is a spoof about the “heroic story of a Middle Eastern dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy never comes to the country he so lovingly oppressed”. Whether the fact that the 84th Academy Awards will be beamed into 200 countries had anything to do with this ban is unclear. But it is highly unusual for the Academy to pull a member’s tickets. An Oscars spokesperson acknowledged to Deadline yesterday: ”We would hope that every studio knows that this is a bad idea. The Red Carpet is not about stunting.” Oh really? Then why did Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park crossdress down the Red Carpet as J-Lo and Gwyneth Paltrow in evening gowns in 2000? Or Ben Stiller appear as an Oscar presenter in full blue Avatar makeup and hair in 2010?

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, February 28, 2012 at 7:27 am Link to this comment

Cohen is clearly an entertainer. As with any successful person in that profession he knows how to get attention.

The Academy, on the other hand, is run by about the most conservative, stodgy, politically-correct, anally-retentive bunch of hypocritical snobs as can be found on the planet.

Their reaction to Cohen’s stunt says far more about them than it does about Cohen.

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By Matt Cornell, February 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In case no one else has mentioned this, it’s worth
noting that Cohen lied about interviewing a
“Palestinian terrorist” for BRUNO. Ignore the title of
this clip, and learn how Cohen pandered to racist
stereotypes to get some cheap laughs playing to Western

To me, THE DICTATOR looks like a mix of Orientalist
brownface and anti-Arab mockery. It’s based on Hussein and Gaddafi, two dictators the US took out in illegal wars. In the case of Iraq, the cost to civilians was enormous. I can imagine many Arabs not finding this very funny at all.

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By bobi6, February 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Borat did not characterize Arabs. Cohen is a British subject as far as I know.
He is very funny and if feelings are hurt too bad. Just about every really
funny film insults someone. Lighten up. Bigots everywhere and enjoy the
laughs or don’t see the film. I though the Academy objection was to his
schtick and costume. It is obvious the powers in Hollywood have no sense
of humor. Just check out the really funny movies from other countries and
our own ridiculous sexist ones. Does anyone but the industry watch the
Oscars anymore. I have no idea who 3/4 of those people are and I love
movies but not the super violent, war and comic book ones. They are just
plain horrible.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, February 25, 2012 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

oakland steve,

Replace ‘arabs’ with ‘moslems’ and yes I think we are back on topic for the stereotypical portrayal comming out of Hollywood.

The entire move has moslem-jew overtones with the moslems viewed as a backwards people insluting jews and the jews as a kind people tolerant of idiots like Borat.

Of course the movie is a comedy and pure fiction.

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By Michael, February 25, 2012 at 5:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cohen’s work is stale post-Borat, but he’s a step ahead
of most of you guys.

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By oakland steve, February 25, 2012 at 5:05 am Link to this comment

Sacha Baron Cohen is a comic actor.  The article concerns the movie business, its bourgeois politics and its commitment to industry profit over all other considerations.  No one has ever accused an academy awards presentation of being overly artistic or intellectually challenging.  George C. Scott got it right when he turned down his oscar, calling the awards ceremony “a goddamn meat parade.”

Those of you who criticize Borat as an anti-Arab movie, please be aware that Kazakhstan is not part of the Arab world and that the character Borat was not portrayed as such.  The anti-semitism in many of these comments will not substitute for knowledge.  Your readiness to read your political prejudices into Cohen’s work doesn’t mean that you’ve actually understood his films.

Goytoy…do you kiss your mother with that mouth?  Shame on you.

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By bigchin, February 24, 2012 at 11:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He should spoof Bibi Netanyahu…

or Aerial Bombardment…

uh… I mean Ariel Sharon.

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By GoyToy, February 24, 2012 at 7:36 am Link to this comment

Cohen is a schmuck.

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By Matt, February 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Vector, the blackface comparison is simply not valid, he doesn’t alter his physical
appearance, as white males were required to do, he simply dresses in hip-hop type
clothes. I’m not sure why you think he is portraying an Arab hip hop moron, rather than
any other generic hip hop moron. Besides the name Ali, and his natural physical
attribute, I’d never think he was trying to be Arab

To Patrick, i don’t think the premise of mocking middle easterners through the character
of Borat would have carried the movie. He was actually holding a big fat mirror up to our
faces, as we mocked ourselves. Borat is the tool he uses, not the punchline. Having
said that, while using the tool he does not hesitate to wring out easy laughs

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By Revere Paul, February 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

cohen…  another dual citizen with ambiguous allegiance heh?

boy the jews get so pissed when you point them out but they never seem to be at a loss to make fun of others, especially those they   terrorize, kill and whose government they manipulate and subvert.

Want to make fun of dictators?  OK how about all those who start wars and call their wars “premptive” “humanitarian” and whatever else other BS euphemism?

How about making fun of bush, oreobama, netanyahu, sarkonazi (jew), cameron   (jew) and the rest of the merry gang of war criminals?

Nah…  so much better to make fun of those dumb “ragheads”... Make fun of the victims…  how avant-garde!

Thankfully the pendulum of history is swinging and a truly final solution will soon be found for all that degenerate vermin.

Mmm…  will this be censored in scheer’s (a jew and dual citizen) truthdig?

Whadya think jew moderator?

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, February 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm Link to this comment

vector56, yes I think you hit the nail on the head. 

Too many movies comming out of Hollywood often demonize arabs or mock them as Cohen did in Borat.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, February 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

Unlike Sacha Baron Cohen, David Mamet seems to have talent. “Glengarry Glen Ross” was riveting!

I have always had a problem with the term, “self-hating Jew”.  Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein seem to be the poster boys for this hateful phrase. Men like Manet assume that their aggressive militant stance is the only way to avoid another Holocaust.

Ironic that they punish the Arabs for the sins of the Germans?

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Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, February 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment

@vector56, good points. His new movie just doesn’t look that funny. Maybe it would have worked if he had made fun of dictators in general, but he does seem to have this obsession with Arabs. The recent turning of the tide in public perceptions of Israel might be having strange, cultural aftershocks with some people. Consider how David Mamet has also gone totally neocon.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, February 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

Sacha Baron Cohen; his extremely “racist” portal of young Arab men is reflected in his other persona “Ali-G” is akin to a White male in “Black-Face” poking fun at the “Colored” people.

I am sure Cohen being Jewish bears no ill feelings toward his Arab Semitic brothers?

I wonder if Sacha has any characters that spoof the Colonial Gods that truly rule the world?

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