Who is America second episode 5 star review: ‘Sacha Baron Cohen’s show hits chilling new high’
One of the most nauseating sights on television last week was Joe Walsh, the former Republican congressman for Illinois who’s now a blowhard right-wing columnist, wriggling like a worm on a pin on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Walsh, you may recall, was one of the targets in the first episode of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who is America?, where he was coaxed by Baron Cohen into supporting a fake project to arm four-year-old children. “Happy shooting, kids!” was Walsh’s parting shot.
Walsh tried to squirm, double-talk and generally bullshit his way through a GMB interview with Piers Morgan, insisting that he didn’t mean what he said.
Walsh has been telling the American media, meanwhile, he was “duped” and “fooled”. This seems to be the common tactic of Baron Cohen’s marks: try to deflect attention from having your naked stupidity and rancid views exposed by blaming the person who exposed them. The latest one to pull this stunt is Georgia state representative Jason Spencer, a prime target in last night’s episode.
Where do you begin with this idiot? Believing he’s attending a self-defence course taught by Israeli “terrorist terminator” Col. Erran Morad — who’s quickly emerged as the most effective of Baron Cohen’s new characters — Spencer pretends to be a Chinese tourist taking an upskirt photo of a female mannequin in a burka (a way, Morad convinces him, of telling an ordinary Muslim woman from a terrorist Muslim woman).
He repeatedly screams the N-word, and finally drops his trousers and underpants and tries to ram Morad with his bare buttocks.
This, explains Morad, is the best way to repeal an Isis kidnapper. If you touch Isis members with your bare bum, they believe it will turn them into homosexuals.
In a post-credits scene, Spencer yells into the camera about “sand n***ers”, before slicing the penis off a terrorist mannequin and biting down on it. Spencer is threatening to sue Baron Cohen and broadcaster Showtime.
This was a far better, more consistent episode than the first one, but not without a couple of weak spots. When confronted with Trump-supporting character Billy Wayne Ruddock Jr, former ABC news anchorman Ted Koppel dismisses nonsense about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowed with a curt “I mean no disrespect to you, but this is a waste of time.”
Baron Cohen’s Italian character Gia Monaldo persuading airhead US reality TV “star” Corinne Olympios to lie about her non-existent charity work in Africa was fish-in-a-barrel stuff.
But Dick Cheney’s appearance was even worse (for Cheney) than that heavily-trailed clip of him signing a waterboaring bottle suggested.
Baron Cohen, as Morad again, asks him to name his favourite war. “Oh, I think it was what we did in Desert Storm, I really do,” says Cheney.
When Morad compliments him on the number of terrorists he’s killed and asks how he feels about being “the king of terrorist killers” Cheney chuckles and says, “Well, it was nothing personal.”
What most viewers will take away from the episode, however, is the final segment. Ultra-liberal character Dr Nira Cain-N’Degeocello unveils a proposed $385m local development to the people of Kingman, Arizona: a huge mosque, “the biggest outside the Middle East”, funded by “the Saudi government and the Clinton Foundation”.
The crowd erupt. “We don’t want that shit here!” shouts one. “This town’s lucky to have black people in it!” bellows another. When Cain-N’Degeocello agrees the town is lucky, because black people “add a lot to society”, he’s told: “We’re saying there are black people in Kingman that aren’t welcome here either, but we tolerate them.”
Critics will accuse Baron Cohen of mocking the powerless.
But if you have a vote, you have power, and we know how Arizona used it.