The Genius of Who is America? - Sacha Baron Cohen’s Extended Air-Time.

Sacha Baron Cohen has always been a bit of a hero of mine *Restepa* and he has certainly not disappointed with his brand new show Who is America?. Like Borat, Ali G and Bruno (mein lieber Österreicher), Cohen’s new characters are designed to humorously expose their unsuspecting but willing victims. A bit like the Ali G show (before your time?) Cohen interviews famous politicians and celebrities in character with an aim to make them look pretty stupid. Chief of Cohen’s characters is Colonel Erran Morad, terrorist expert and “not in the Mossad” – creator of arguably the biggest and best stunts. Yet despite the show’s obvious genius, the comedy doesn’t stop there. So, where does it begin?

Balance is key for Cohen and his attack on America’s upper echelons is threefold. Firstly, the main target of his unearthing piece are the right wing Republicans: Sarah Palin, Joe Walsh, Roy Moore (who’s suing Cohen for $95 million) and even Dick Cheney. Cohen got Cheney to sign his “waterboard” and asked him questions like: “What was your favorite war?”. Cheney’s response? “Desert Storm”. Obviously.

 
  Cohen getting his ‘Dick pic’.

Cohen getting his ‘Dick pic’.

 

Next, the balance: Sen. Bernie Sanders and… that’s mostly it on the A-lister side of things. Oh well, at least Cohen is able to show who the complete idiots are and who isn’t so easily fooled. We also have the self-indulgent celebrity section to add balance (kind of everyone who’s been duped but nevertheless) with the complete package in Corinne Olympios. Olympios is devilishly tricked by my second favorite character, fashion photographer Gio Monaldo, into staging an interview in which she claims she prevented a massacre in Sierra Leone because the warlord ‘knew her’. Just perfect!

Finally, the beauty in Cohen’s work is that the comedy doesn’t end after the show has aired. Already, many of Cohen’s ‘victims’ have responded on various news channels and on Twitter; completely playing into his hands. The main means by which Cohen organised the interviews was by inviting them to receive an award and using their own vanity against them. No wonder, then, that those most in love with themselves demanded more TV-time to respond in an attempt to regain what remains of their dignity. Essentially, they are providing Cohen with additional airtime, plus a further 10 minutes of continual exhibition of their utter haplessness with what’s just happened to them. It’s like they know exactly what Cohen wants...Here’s a few examples:

  • Sarah Palin –we don’t know what she’s done yet because it’s not aired, but she really isn’t helping herself here. Note the interviewer’s exploits in successfully brown-nosing Palin.

  • Joe Walsh on CNN and with our darling Piers Morgan (watch from about 3:00).

 
      I mean how can you stay mad at this guy? Look at him!

    I mean how can you stay mad at this guy? Look at him!

 

Walsh, after openly supporting Cohen’s fake program ‘Kinderguardians’, which aimed to supply kids from “12 to 4 years old” with guns, responded aptly to Piers after being questioned that he “didn’t know what he was thinking”. HA! Clearly. Here’s the segment for our mutual enjoyment.

Some of the things Cohen has gotten his ‘victims’ (note: heavily ironic speech marks) to do have taken them beyond the realm of being able to publicly respond. Already, Georgia governor Jason Spencer has been forced to resign after screaming “n****r”, impersonating a Chinese tourist, and getting his bum out in the name of anti-terror. This was an Erran Morrad skit. And yes, this actually happened.

The show has caused an absolute shitstorm and I’ve only scratched the surface of what it has to offer. I’ll be covering the final four episodes in my next post so if you haven’t got round to it yet, well, what are you waiting for? Watch it, you nooney!

 
FilmLukas Evans-Jones