Race & Ethnicity

Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator Called Out as 'Ugly' Stereotype of Arabs

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Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 1:30 PM

click to enlarge @MLIM20
  • @mlim20
You saw Sacha Baron Cohen, in character as The Dictator, take on the Academy Awards for allegedly refusing his punk-worthy entrance to the red carpet at the Oscars Sunday.

It was all a media stunt, and Cohen ended up on the red carpet, spreading the "ashes" of Kim Jong Ill on Ryan Seacrest. Ha-ha.

Except Arab Americans aren't happy. Not at all:

Look at it this way. Imagine if Cohen portrayed a Latino leader with a thick mustache, an accent, a vertically challenged presence, corruption all around him, and a box of cigars in-hand.

(Actually, Richard Dreyfuss played an impersonator of just such a Latin American dictator in Moon Over Parador. Discuss).

click to enlarge Richard Dreyfuss in 'Moon Over Parador.'
  • Richard Dreyfuss in 'Moon Over Parador.'

Anywho, the National Network for Arab American Communities is not happy with Cohen's General Shabazz Aladeen, who will receive big-screen treatment in summer, when The Dictator is released.

The group's director, Nadia Tonova, stated today:

Arabs are among the few cultures that Hollywood still exploits with impunity. Routinely, we are profiled as unsavory or sultry characters -- generally terrorists, dictators, sheikhs, oil tycoons or Bedouins.

... They become an ugly message that trickles down to the general public: Arabs and Muslims are untrustworthy; they are un-American; they are... fill the blank.

Shame on you, Cohen. You should go back to playing British hip-hop/raver guidos.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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