Update: Scroll down for the most subtle reference in The Dictator‘s marketing.
Way, way back in the early 2000s, when media prankster Sacha Baron Cohen first began his Ali G. routine, the idea of a comedic actor who went out into the real world as his characters was ingenious. It was like Method acting meets guerrilla theater meets Improv Everywhere (with a little Andy Kaufman thrown in for good measure).
But now we’re all old and grey, and Mr. Cohen’s popularity in America after Bruno and Borat means that no one will fall for his pranks anymore, mostly because he’s too recognizable. It would be like Ashton Kutcher (or Justin Bieber, or Nick Cannon) showing up to “punk” you. And despite the fact that British comedian’s new film, The Dictator, is entirely scripted and does not necessitate any sort of “man on the street” pranks, Mr. Cohen can not, will not, let his old habits die. Even when they really, really should.
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The Academy Awards
The funniest moment of last night’s almost tearfully boring Academy Awards had nothing to do with Billy Crystal‘s hosting duties, which were apparently ripped from a Catskills comedian back in the 70s. No, the best moment was Sacha Baron Cohen showing up on the red carpet, fully in character as Admiral Aladeen of Wadiya to promote his upcoming movie The Dictator.
This was supposed to be a big deal, since Mr. Baron Cohen, who co-starred in Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo, was allegedly told by the Academy not to promote his movie through some viral marketing stunt on the red carpet. The Borat actor replied earlier last week in the form of a YouTube video and a phone call on Today, then went ahead and showed up as Admiral Aladeen anyway.
Proving that they take themselves way more seriously than the MTV Movie Awards, the Academy of Motion Pictures warned prankster Sasha Baron Cohen this week that he could not attend the Oscars in character from his latest film. According to an official statement from an Academy spokesperson, “The red carpet is not about stunting.” As everyone knows, the red carpet is only to reinforce our country’s love of Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and our annual token African-American newcomer, up for a statue for their supporting role in a film starring much bigger celebrities.
Was Mr. Baron Cohen, who co-starred in Hugo, even planning on attending as Admiral Gen. Shabazz Aladeen from The Dictator, a mockumentary about a Middle Eastern tyrant from the fictional Republic of Wadiya?
Well, now that the powers of be say that he can’t do it, the British comedian is going to milk all the publicity from this non-scandal as possible. And he’s going to do it in character. On the Today show. Poor Ann Curry.
The Academy has warned Sacha Baron Cohen not to show up to the Oscars in character as “the Dictator,” the title character from his upcoming fantasia on Middle Eastern themes. As Mr. Cohen’s films rest somewhat on the tension between his invented characters and shocked but credulous citizens, and as he’s run out of citizens Read More