Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cultural Learnings For Make Benefit Glorious Empire


Lenin's Tomb is delighted, quivering and damp in the crevices to have received a leaked draft of a script outline for the next Sacha Baron Cohen film, involving a zany new character: Sizlak. A hyperactive, dishevelled, foul-mouthed academic from Slovenia who delights in pushing to the limits of contrarian absurdity, this satiric fancy is certain to test every one of Baron Cohen's legendary 'foreign accent' and 'funny face' skills. Worldwide audiences will be challenged and giggled to bits by the casual racist humour and misogyny.

Cultural ironies abound. In one scene, Sizlak explains to an antiwar demonstration: "What if, you know, the real problem with America is that it is not an empire! Okay, why not, you need an empire, who else is there? But America will precisely not invest itself in a proper colonial adventure because it would have to be a genuine humanitarian operation. No? This is what I call subversive overidentification - you precisely, like The Good Soldier Ċ vejk, follow orders so closely that you end up unmasking the whole enterprise! Have you heard the one about the chocolate laxative?"

This is closely followed by a hilarious skit in which Sizlak tries to book an overnight stay with a gentle family in London - only to discover they're Muslims. "You know," he explains breathlessly to the camera as he cowers in the unlit bedroom he has paid for, "this is not what I meant by traversing the fantasy! I did not see their horns, but they were always present in the Running of the Mohammedan - don't get me wrong, I like them. I like sex too - it's nice. It is simply that I refuse to engage in the patronising strategies of sophisticated, you know, pseudo-understanding that characterise the official liberal racist response to Muslims. We must, to be properly in solidarity, have exactly a ruthless critique of Islam." And with that, he flees.

Sitting astride an enamel toilet in Malet Street, Sizlak cheerfully tells the camera: "The real reason we do not simply crap in public is precisely because the Other's excess of enjoyment is always bothersome. No? And if we want to really disturb the coordinates of liberal-democratic hegemony, you know, we should stop this stupid disavowal and collectively put shit on the road. Would this not precisely dramatise the 'movement of movements' that anticapitalists speak of, but without the Beautiful Soul narcissism? You know, I am almost tempted to reverse the usual dictum, and declare 'All things in excess!'" He adds: "Have you heard the one about the French toilet, the English toilet and the German toilet?"

'Sizlak' is coming soon to a campus near you.