Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Devil's Nest: The Dictator & Structures Of Power

Sacha Cohen Baron's The Dictator is crude, yet there are too many golden nuggets buried within the tasteless jokes to not take notice of the important points being made, and the fact that the type of audience member attracted to this type of humor is probably the same one who has no idea what has been going on in America the last three years, makes it plausible that Baron slips them a healthy dose of reality they might not get otherwise. From the power structures of Feminism to the dehumanization of masturbating and abortion, Baron seems to hit all the major moral issues, including the way the press censors news in America.
Aladeen actually was not the rightful heir to his kingdom, Tamir (Ben Kingsley) was, but Tamir arranges to have Aladeen assassinated, then turn the country into a democracy and start selling off the huge oil reserves to the US and Chinese to become immensely wealthy. Tamir's plan fails, of course, but at the signing of what should have been the country's new constitution, Aladeen gives a very blatant speech on how Americans should not be so disgusted with dictatorship because of all the advantages it provides, a clear indication of who The Dictator is aimed at: President Obama. Hearing this "constitutional signing speech" is exactly like listening to Loki from The Avengers talking about people really wanting to be oppressed because we can't handle freedom. This is part of the great flow of ideas that adversity creates: when art is working against something, similar ideas are inevitably shared, validating the catharsis of those also fighting against the same forces, but demonstrating that the evil and oppression aren't imagined, everyone sees it.
I've mentioned before that comedy, far from "revealing" interesting conflicts within society, is more interesting because of the conflicts it continues to hide... I agree with Sigmund Freud and his masterful work Jokes and Their Relation To the Unconscious that jokes do reveal to an audience a confrontation between something forbidden to discuss in society and the inner-need of individuals to release what is being oppressed. With Baron, however, he manages to do that and point to a door that continues to hide what we are unwilling-or unable-to discuss, and those are specific moral issues that I was quite shocked the comedian took up.
The Supreme Ruler in bed with Hollywood actress Megan Fox (playing herself, as Edward Norton plays himself later in the film). In the trailer, there was a clip of Megan growing through her "compensation" and she held up a small gemstone and asked, "Is this a ruby? Are you kidding me? Do I look like a Kardashian?" and Aladeen replies, "No, you are much less hairy." That part isn't in the film, there is a far more sexually explicit comment, involving a diamond Rolex.
Let's start with the celebrities mentioned in the film first. In the beginning of the film, Aladeen is in bed with Megan Fox, and, upon finishing the sexual act, announces to her, "Now you have herpes." She gets out of bed and wants her "compensation," and mentions that "Katy Perry got a diamond Rolex," and Aladeen replies, "That's because she let me $@#R% in her face" and then Miss Fox poses for a Polaroid with Aladeen after refusing to "cuddle" with him for awhile. After she leaves, Aladeen places her Polaroid with hundreds of others of famous people who have prostituted themselves with Aladeen: Lindsay Lohan, Oprah Winfrey and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Later, the Chinese delegate will talk about buying property next to George Clooney on Lake Cuomo, and how much it would take to pay Clooney to have sex with him, and names Harvey Keitel as all ready giving into him; the Chinese delegate later walks out of a bathroom with a tearful Edward Norton who has obviously just engaged in oral sex with him. What does this mean? All these celebrities are Democrats and supporters of President Obama (with the exception of Arnold, discussed below).
Aladeen and Megan Fox posing for the Polaroid for Aladeen's "memory wall."
Lindsay Lohan, for example, wanted to be a spokesperson for the Obama 2008 election campaign (she was turned down based on her personal life) and Megan Fox is on record for talking about how she thinks Obama is "sexy." Oprah Winfrey, of course, had the Obamas on her talk show and gave the then Senator substantial funds to get him elected. George Clooney has supported Obama and been a driving force in his bid for re-election funds, and Harvey Keitel and Katy Perry both publicly supported Obama's election bid as well. Edward Norton was actually making a movie about Obama. This supports what I wrote last year in Martha Marcy May Marlene about Obama "seducing" people with his rhetoric and promises and how, just like Megan now having herpes, she will go on to infect others by continuing to support "the dictator." (Please remember, I didn't make this film, this is Baron speaking, not I).
The great problem with dictatorships is the lack of competition generating better products and conditions. Aladeen's Olympic races illustrates in his awarding all 14 gold medals to himself that similar allegory of America and the Soviet Union in the Cold War, the arms race, symbolized frequently in the 1960s by "drag races" (think of American Graffiti and Carnival Of Souls). The lousy quality of this race illustrates the lousy quality of nuke warheads Aladeen's nuclear program makes (pictured below).
What about Arnold Schwarzenegger?
It could be said that Arnold, a Republican, leaving the state of California in such financial straits prompted the way for Obama, but given the morality of the rest of the film, I think it predominantly alludes to Arnold's marital infidelity: if you break the bond of matrimony, you're sleeping with everyone, and the scandal of Arnold's personal-life-made-public aided in an easy Democrat/Socialist win (I am not saying, by any means, that Baron himself is a Republican, I certainly don't think he is, however, one Republican who has had a terrible scandal in the midst of a plethora of Democrats supporting Obama brings out Arnold's poor qualities and how his decisions effected the country).
Aladeen inspecting his nuclear warhead at his nuclear development facilities (yes, it's a barn). Aladeen is upset that his warhead is so small, but he's reminded that he had Nadal, the previous head of nuclear development, executed (Nadal, consequently, is the one who aides Aladeen in undoing Tamir's plot because anyone Aladeen has ordered executed has instead been sent to New York to foster an underground against Aladeen). In a speech in the opening of the film, Aladeen says that his pursuit of nuclear technology is "solely for peaceful purposes, clean energy and medical advancements" while, of course, he's trying to keep from laughing, and then he attempts to add, "It won't be used to attack Isr--oh, boy,..." and starts laughing.
But two of the celebrities are specifically linked to the Chinese: George Clooney and Edward Norton. In supporting Obama as fully as these two have done, and the Chinese delegate specifically mentioning sexual relations with them, Baron makes the point that supporting Obama is supporting what he supports, which means, through practice if not in theory, the Chinese ownership of America. When Aladeen parades down New York's 5th Avenue, he says, "Ah, America, built by the blacks and owned by the Chinese," referring to two policies created by Democrats that have nearly ruined this country: the Democrats forcing the Civil War over the issues of slavery in 1861 (led by Democrat Jefferson Davis) and the immense American debt accumulated by Democratic agendas during the Obama Administration. (It's important that Baron brings this up because we will be discussing this again on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). To participate in the Obama Administration today is to participate in the selling-off of America to the Chinese.
In the trailer at this part, Aladeen says, "Ah, America, the birthplace of AIDS" (which we have all ready discussed, was actually in Africa, where Aladeen is from, suggesting the scapegoat tendency of Muslim nations blaming the US for everything, and Aladeen does call America "The Devil's Nest" as most dictators would). In the film, however, he says, "Ah, America, built by the blacks and owned by the Chinese."
It's not enough, however, to remind the audience of the Democratic Party's historical and current failures, Baron even takes out the one "credible" achievement of the Obama Administration: the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. Throughout the film, Aladeen remarks several times that Bin Laden is staying in his guest house and floods the bathroom. The "flooding bathroom" refers to Bin Laden's (excuse the expression, please) "shit" blocking the pipes which has caused problems, but not in the Middle East, in America, because of the deaths, the loss of the twin towers as financial centers, the psychological impact it has had on Americans, the hassle today of air travel, the expense to New York City tourism and the additional expenditures on homeland security (and the lawsuits which result from "racial profiling"). Osama Bin Laden has flooded our bathroom, in the USA, and Baron goes so far as to suggest that Obama didn't even get him.
The first reference made to abortion is when a woman unexpectedly goes into labor in Zoey's grocery store and Aladeen tells them that he was Wadiya's number one surgeon (just as Aladeen is Wadiya's number one everything) so Aladeen delivers the baby. When it finally comes out, Aladeen looks at the father and says, "Oh, I have bad news, it's a girl. Where's the trash can?" and prepares to throw the baby away. The second example of abortion comes towards the end when Zoey and Aladeen have been married and Zoey announces she's pregnant; Aladeen asks her, "Are you having a boy, or an abortion?"
But Baron makes a surprising argument against Obama's most popular platform (with Feminists, at least) and that is against abortion. Twice in the film, Baron reminds the audience that if Feminists are so pro-woman, it's usually female babies that are aborted and if Feminists are supporting a political platform that kills women, they are not only in a serious state of contradiction, but are doing more harm to women (the female babies) then the dictators of countries they campaign against.
The double (to protect Aladeen from assassination) is literally the double of Aladeen because the double shows how Aladeen's treatment of women is reducing them to the level of animals (when the double starts milking the breasts of a woman as if she is a goat) yet this is exactly in line with "sexual liberation" which Feminists are preaching: that they should not be held by artificial standards of sexuality (which Zoey's whole character is about) and that's why the "talents" of the female virgin guards assigned to pleasure Aladeen's double French kiss each other, their sexuality has been codified by a code of "liberation" (they aren't sexually liberated unless the two women kiss each other, which comes down to an enforcing of sexual conduct, not a liberation from it).
In this shot, Aladeen claims that someone left a bottle of Nair and women's razors in the tip box, insinuating that Zoey needs to shave her armpits. Zoey has politicized everything and everyone in her grocery store, even the act of how a person goes to the bathroom (the lesbian's bathroom). Zoey's growth of her under-arm hair mirrors the non-liberation of sexuality discussed above, that is, if a woman in today's world is really liberated, she doesn't shave her arms. In the end of the film, she says that she will shave her arms for Aladeen, which is probably nauseating to Feminists, but also mirrors Aladeen's need for facial hair to be a leader. The lesson, in terms of hair, can be that hair helps to identify us whether we realize it or not, in how we wear our hair/body hair, or don't, and even that in today's world has become a sign of our political being.
Which leads us to the very graphic birthing scene in the film. As previously mentioned, a woman goes into labor in the grocery store where Aladeen covertly works for Zoey and delivers the baby. During delivery, the camera goes inside the woman's womb to see the baby, as well as the cell phone Aladeen answered during delivery and then Zoey goes into the womb to help Aladeen help pull the baby through. Aladeen and Zoey end up holding hands in the woman's womb and have a moment of bonding, Nadal talking on the other end of the cell phone still within the woman's womb. The point is, the hand-holding between Zoey and Aladeen clearly demonstrates the real purpose of sexual intercourse, the bonding and the procreation of humanity; anything besides that is as foreign to a woman's body as the cell phone inside her.
In the beginning of the film, (as in the trailer at the start of this post) we are told that Aladeen changed words in the language to Aladeen, his own name. For example, instead of saying "stop" or "go," one would say, "Aladeen" or "Aladeen," whichever one you meant. Why? What purpose does this serve? In the policital landscape, it seems there has been the same type of language change, that words such as "hope" and "change" become "fear" and "socialism" and charges to "take courage" really means "shut up." At one point, Aladeen and Nadal go into a funeral for the "father of Harlem," a black leader who obviously was very revered, and they intend to cut his beard off so Aladeen can have a beard again (more on this below), but members of the mourning party realize something's going on and tries to stop them, so Nadal cuts the black man's head off and takes it with them. Nadal himself was supposed to be executed for telling Aladeen how nuclear weapons work (Nadal disagreed with Daffy Duck, basically) so Aladeen ordered Nadal beheaded, only to find that he wasn't. So what's the point of taking the head, and of Aladeen playing with it throughout the film? the head symbolizes the "governing function," for example, Christ is the head of His Body, the Church; because Aladeen turns the decapitated head into a "talking head," there really isn't any other way to understand the "decapitated leader" as being other than President Obama.
And this builds off an earlier scene: Aladeen masturbating for the first time. He wants to have Zoey perform sexual acts upon him, and she tells him that he needs to "take care of that himself" and that most mature adults do it. She puts him in a room and coaches him... after Aladeen climaxes, he comes out of the room and tells everyone about it in very graphic terms (I told you it was crass) but this is part of his point: if it's not proper to discuss in public--as it obviously isn't--neither is it proper to do. This goes back to Zoey and Aladeen holding hands in the woman's womb, because Aladeen makes a big deal about how he had used that hand to... well, enough said.
Why does Aladeen always hold Tamir's hand? It's a false show of friendship on Aladeen's part. It's the forging of a fake bond with his real political rival. Why does Aladeen's beard get shaved off? The beard is either a sign of the appetites or it is a sign of a hermit/old wise man because, in their pursuit for wisdom, they have given up the worldly pursuits symbolized by growing a beard, and this later understanding is why Aladeen refuses to wear a "fake beard" and wants the beard of a leader and distinguished man to wear to make himself look distinguished because the image of a dictator is the dictator.
Lastly are the issues revolving around Israel. Baron's own mother is Jewish and while Baron doesn't consider himself Orthodox, he does go to the Synagogue twice a year. The repeated slurs against Israel and Jews which Aladeen makes is meant to draw sympathy to and awareness to the precarious situation of Israel within the hotbed of Middle East politics and the ways in which Israel is "dumped upon" by other countries wishing to bring an end to the state of Israel and the Jewish people.
The terrible irony is, these female guards are meant to guard the life of Aladeen, but he doesn't guard them, he exploits them for his own sexual pleasure. In this scene when Aladeen enters The Lancaster Hotel, he complains about having to pay $20 a day for internet access (not that we have seen the Surpreme Ruler on the internet) but it's typical that those who rip off others, don't like to have the same treatment applied to themselves. Which now brings us to the scene where the man hired to protect Aladeen is actually going to assassinate him after torturing him. Seth Rogen's character goes through a whole display of torture devices and Aladeen tells him why each one is deficient, because Aladeen has used them all and knows all the techniques.
Obviously, a film about dictatorship involves power structures and structures of power. Zoey's own Feminist politics are themselves dictorial because she reduces everything to "power": either someone steals power from someone or someone has been politically dis-enfranchised. The moment Zoey best communicates with Aladeen is when she hugs him, when she makes an act of love that even a ruthless dictator needs, and that's a total undermining of power structures because everyone has the power to love. Zoey and Aladeen getting married is the necessary conversion of the two of them because they each have to make sacrifices for the other, and that's the only time love really exists.
The Dictator is really packed full of fabulous, well-constructed political messages, it's just too bad that most people won't be able to enjoy them because of the disgusting jokes throughout the film. I'm glad the film was made, validating a number of points I have been talking about, but I wish it were available to a wider audience for viewing consideration.