Sasha Baron Cohen Foils Tough Guise
Growing up in a boy’s school I sometimes succumbed to hyper-masculine poses. Yeah, that was me, along with plenty of other guys. Silly, overblown showcasing.
And then I grew up and wondered why. Why do we do it? Why do we do it even for strangers we don’t know or care about? People we’ll never see again?
After taking some gender courses, I’ve got some clues.
Growing up there’s plenty of pressure from dads and moms and friends. But it’s more like the pressure of “how not to be.”
Don’t be fem. Don’t be gay.
Everyone seems to value masculine behaviors. Girls can be tomboys. But boys can’t be sissies. At least not without getting tortured.
Guys look to other guys – not women – for cues on how to “do manhood.” We don’t look to women because what would they know? And we’ve been taught to devalue them and their traits, anyway. We’ve got to prove we’re men by projecting the opposite of womanliness.
So guys can grow up to be — or at least act — pretty misogynistic and homophobic.
Especially in groups: We’ve got an audience and we’d better prove our toughness until both the audience and us guys are convinced we are manly.
So what happens when that plan is foiled, courtesy Sasha Baron Cohen?
One character Mr. Cohen plays is “Bruno” — a satiric persona used to exploit homophobia — on The Ali G show.
On one episode Bruno comes upon five guys on Spring Break in Miami. He tells them he’s doing a TV show and asks them to spell out “P-A-R-T-Y” and then chant “Party” in unison. The macho men perform with gusto, complete with raised arms, “gang signs” and body-builder poses. But Bruno keeps insisting it’s not energetic enough. So the guys keep topping themselves —swaying, jumping, running, shoving and screaming. In the last round one guy even jumped from a trailer truck while yelling out “Y!”
As an encore, Bruno tells them to show their asses.
“You want to see some ass-cheeks?” Demands ringleader, Jim, “We’ll give you some ass-cheeks!” Practically delirious, the guys moon the camera.
Finally, Bruno tells Jim to say “hi” to everyone.
“Hi, This is Jim from Daytona Beach, Florida!” he blusters.
“No,” Bruno corrects, “Say hi to the Austrian Gay TV show”.
“Gay TV? What do you mean Gay TV? There is no f-ing Gay TV involved in this,” bellows Jim, as he rips off the tip of Bruno’s microphone.
Funny how performing for a crowd, and showing off your ass, is just fine – until the context changes.
The hyper-masculine poses — the antithesis of femininity and homosexuality — were made to impress both women and men (who could only envy their celebrity spotlight).
But it turned out that they were performing for (and submitting to?) a gay audience, falling all over themselves to please and even show some skin.
Especially when hyper-masculinity is merely a projection of the fear of being equal or being identified with “lesser-thans.” Like women and gays.
Hansel is a former student who wrote this as a final gender studies paper at the University of California, San Diego, where he recently graduated. I edit it down from 3500 to around 500 words. I’m posting with his permission.
Posted on April 25, 2014, in feminism, LGBTQ, men, psychology, sexism, women and tagged Austrian Gay TV, Bruno, feminism, LGBTQ, men, psychology, Sasha Baron Cohen, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.