Ukraine's culture ministry announced Wednesday it has banned British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's latest film "Brüno" for its scenes featuring nudity and homosexual intercourse.
Baron Cohen dons the persona of an explicitly gay, Austrian fashion reporter and polizei by the same name in his new film "Brüno."
A ministry-appointed commission consisting of 14 members evaluated the language and imagery used in the film and deemed it unsuitable for viewing by the Ukrainian public.
According to the culture ministry, the film contains "artistically unjustified exhibition of sexual organs and sexual relations, homosexual acts in a blatantly graphic form, obscene language, sadism, anti-social behavior which could damage the moral upbringing of our citizens."
For those familiar with Baron Cohen's work, the film's uninhibited shock value is nothing new. As in his successful 2006 mockumentary "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," Baron Cohen has once again reprised the role of one of his three alter egos featured in "Da Ali G Show," which aired from 1996 until 2002 on British television networks and between 2003 and 2004 on HBO.
With "Borat," audiences watched the title character journey from New York City to California as an anti-Semitic Kazakh television reporter in pursuit of social and cultural knowledge, Gypsies, Pamela Anderson and acceptance, all the while laying a trail of satirical mockery of "the greatest country in the world"--"the U.S. and A."
Whatever effect "Borat" made on viewers--outrage, wonder, glee, kick in the teeth--it is no secret this time Baron Cohen has upped the ante with "Brüno." The latest film's tagline says it all: "Borat was so 2006."
Clad in skin-tight leather, short shorts, vinyl suits and other square-inch-reduced pieces of high fashion, Brüno with his pseudo-Austrian accent and sashaying mannerisms puts homophobia, bigotry and heteronormative perceptions of sexuality in the ugly spotlight.
Though Ukraine has banned him from frolicking across its screens, Brüno's "home country" of Austria may be benefiting from the publicity. The Web site Hotels.com reported a 120 percent increase in the number of people searching for accommodations in Vienna--an upsurge for which the company gives credits to "Brüno."
The R-rated film was released in the United States on July 10 and enjoyed a No. 1 spot during its opening weekend with an estimated $30.4 million in ticket sales. Despite its success so far, "Brüno" has been less well received than "Borat," which boasts a per-theater sales average of $31,607 during its opening weekend versus "Brüno's" $11,040.