Youth Culture Window
Homosexuality. Vulgarity. Profanity. Some more homosexuality. Mockery of Christianity. Coarse jokes. Even more homosexuality. Several drug references. Sex toys. And you guessed it: more homosexuality. Will kids pay to see this at theaters?
If Borat's success at the box office is any indicator, they will by the millions.
From the mind of Sacha Baron Cohen
The guy who brought us Borat in 2006 is back in theaters this week with another one of his alter egos, Brüno. Theses foul characters are the brainchild (or brain fart, depending on how you look at it) of Sacha Baron Cohen, a British comedian, who rose to fame in 2000 with his comedic Da Ali G Show. His shtick is based on "mockumentaries" where he interviews celebrities and politicians as an outlandish character of his choosing. By far, his two most famous personas were Borat and Brüno, hence the movie deals that have followed.
In spite of being fired for going too far on a Valentine's Day show in the early 90's, Cohen's career has been nothing short of sensational since his Ali G days. Using the popularity he garnered from the show as a launching pad, Cohen has gone on to star in Borat (2006), Talladega Nights (2006), and now Brüno (2009). He also provided the voice of Prince Julien in Madagascar (2005) and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008).
More recently, you may recall a mostly naked angel-guy falling into the lap of Eminem at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. Yep, that was Cohen, dressed as Brüno, promoting his new film.
In this movie, Cohen takes his "pseudo journalism" tactics to a whole new level. He comes to America as a homosexual fashionista in hopes of becoming "world famous." His ambition for fame drives him to attempt incredible feats he believes will bring him glory, going as far as adopting an African baby, instigating world peace, making a sex tap with former presidential hopeful Ron Paul, and eventually, even trying to go straight.
Throughout these miscellaneous (and failed) attempts at fame, viewers are assaulted with graphic scenes of sex - most of which are homosexual - and several other sorts of tasteless material. You can view the official trailer on YouTube; I'll spare you from the completely reviling red band trailer on the Brüno site.
Originally rated NC-17 by the Motion Picture Association of America, the film now carries an R Rating after several scenes were cut. In the movie's one act of decency, producers cut a scene featuring LaToya Jackson, given her brother's recent death.
You can read a thorough summary of the movie from Plugged-In Online here, but don't expect a movie review from The Source on this one; we're skipping it. However, early reviews of the movie are already in, claiming it's "more outrageous than Borat."
Great...that's just what our kids need.
Dealing with the woe of Brüno
There's a good chance that you will be asked about this movie if you're a parent or a youth worker. What will you say? What's your recommendation...and why? Here are just a couple of thoughts about how to deal with Brüno, and the reasons behind them.
Cohen made millions off Borat, and he looks poised to make even more off Brüno. In your conversations with teenagers, try to help them understand that Hollywood has to constantly figure out new ways to get us to spend $9.50 at the theater...and as long as folks are willing to shell out cash for trash, the more encouraged they are to produce films that are trash.
- Talk openly with teens about the movie. Most teens who want to see the movie realize they will need their parents' permission to see this flick, so the likelihood of them bringing it up is pretty good. When they do, simply ask them about the various elements found within the film, such as the "pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity, and language" that gives the film its R rating. Gently ask teenagers if they can justify that sort of intake in light of the New Testament. They will likely say that they can watch the moral mayhem without being hindered, but we've already seen time and again that it's just not true.
- Tell them you're going to skip it. Teens usually want to know what you'll do - and why! - even if they disagree. So, tell them that you've decided the content of the film doesn't match the values you have in place. Tell them exactly what your uneasiness is with the movie's content, and what sort of message you could potentially send to others by supporting it.
- Strongly encourage your teens to do the same. Yeah, the film skirted the NC-17 rating, barely, but even though it is "only" rated R, there will be plenty of teens who view the movie this weekend (and the rest of summer). In my completely unscientific survey, I've asked a lot of students in the past few weeks (all "church kids" by the way) about whether or not they will see the film, and unfortunately, 38% of them have said yes. When asked why, their response was the typical, "Cause it looks funny." They need to hear from you what they should do, even if they disagree.
David R. Smith
is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth
workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the
gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year,
Ministry By Teenagers
. David provides free
resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org
David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.
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