I’ve been reviewing the Bruno reviews and I’m interested to see that it delights in ambushing the unsuspecting. Even Ron Paul, libertarian candidate for President, gets taken. Apparently, he has never heard of Cohen, Borat, or Bruno.
Strange when you think of it. Cohen has been a big star for several years now. He’s appeared at the Academy Awards and won a Golden Globe. Doesn’t he get pursued by the paparazzi? I assume he must. Indeed, Cohen has said he’ll retire Borat and Ali G, on the grounds that they were too well known by the public. Strange to think that anyone who knows the characters would fail to recognize the celebrity within.
Maybe the answer is that rubes will be with us always. And these are the targets Cohen likes best. People who live on the far margin, nurturing their own brand of nuttiness, safely removed from the mainstream that might otherwise redeem them.
But my guess is that the great fragmentation of our culture means there will also be nooks and crannies filled with people who have never heard of Cohen however famous he becomes. Now that the enameled surface of the contemporary culture is “crazed” with tiny fissures, there are more and more places for culture to take hold.
The question is: when does the center cease to hold? This matters for Cohen because at some point the structural forces that sustains the possibility of ambush must eventually destroy the sanctimony on which, as Scott points out, he depends.
Scott, A.O. 2009. Tuetonic Fashion Plate Flaunts His Umlauts. The New York Times. July 10, 2009. here.