Of Hamas and Hummus
Did an Israeli interviewee actually get the better of Brüno?
In 2006, when Borat came out, it didn’t take long before Sacha Baron Cohen started fielding complaints (and lawsuits) from those who felt they’d been unfairly mocked. This time around, with Brüno, the complaints started well before the premiere—in one case, a full year before. In a piece he wrote for the Forward last June, Israeli political analyst (and onetime IDF intelligence officer) Yossi Alpher, who was “interviewed” by Brüno alongside a former Palestinian Authority minister in the movie, related how he’d been duped.
Now that the movie’s in theaters, it’s interesting to look back at the piece. Our verdict: it’s a bit defensive, gets a couple of things wrong (Brüno doesn’t say that it was the Jews who should return the pyramids) and raises a question or two (we’d love to know the identity of the “respected Middle East expert in Washington” who made the interview happen), but on the whole Alpher comes out looking OK.
In a review of the movie published in the latest issue of The New Yorker , Alpher comes off looking better still:
[Brüno] even gets Israeli and Palestinian officials together at the same table, holding their hands while he sings a song of (though not in) perfect harmony. It’s horribly awkward, sure, yet the actual questions he puts rely on tired malapropism—mistaking Hamas for hummus, say—and, if you look at the faces of the negotiators, you don’t see dumb humiliation. You see tough, weathered types who have met many dunderheads in their time, and this fop is no different—he’s nothing to them, a speck, and they’ll brush him off the instant he leaves the room.
Who knows, maybe Alpher will be the rare dupe who comes out of a Baron Cohen project with a boost.
What Kind of Interviewer Confuses Hamas and Hummus? [Forward]
Mein Camp [The New Yorker]