“GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios, who saw the film Friday, said that ‘the movie was a well-intentioned series of sketches — some hit the mark and some hit the gay community pretty hard and reinforce some damaging, hurtful stereotypes.’” –Sandy Cohen
Brüno may seem less shocking because we already experienced that response with Borat, but I think in most respects Brüno is the better movie.
I suspect many mainstream reviewers' meh responses are an unconscious attempt to diminish the discomfort of having to observe homophobia with neither the usual sentimental treatment of its victims nor the comforting illusion that it is entirely contained to certain subgroups in our society—this movie makes you FEEL homophobia, even if you are gay and not homophobic at all. Brüno, after all, is a homophobe's "straw man" of a gay person: Who wouldn't look down on Brüno?
I don't mean to imply that people who don't get or enjoy the movie are homophobes, but the way the Brüno character excites homophobic reactions seems more daring and more informative than the more mainstream-acceptable films that have the sweet, sensitive, misunderstood gay guy die at the end just because "some elements" in our society are not as highly evolved as others.
But Brüno shows us that lots of people on all levels of our culture—from Alabama rabbit hunters to Hollywood bigwigs—lose their shit when confronted with someone like Brüno.
That the movie also delves into America's conflicted reactions to class, race, violence, children, and the media further complicates our responses to it.
Nobody should feel forced to enjoy this movie. That's not my point. Certainly not. But I hope GLAAD and other respected spokespeople for the GLBT community won't let the mainstream media use their well-qualified concerns to demonize a satirical film for doing its job without pulling punches.
Satire has a long history of condemning its society's inhumanity, dullness, and obscenity and, for its troubles, being accused of being inhumane, dull, and obscene.