Photo: Sacha Baron Cohen in disguise
Sacha Baron Cohen strikes again. Despite the lingering threat of the coronavirus, the United States has recently seen a surge of rallies and protests. These gatherings have mainly been in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, as a result of the very public killing of George Floyd. However, other groups have also been holding demonstrations, including “constitutionalist” and far-right militia group the Washington Three Percent. According to Variety, the anti-government group recently held a rally on June 27th, titled “March for Our Rights 3”, but the event was crashed by a surprise guest.
A week before the rally, a group known as Back to Work USA contacted the group’s founder and former leader Matt Marshall, and offered to help organize and pay for March for Our Rights 3. The group paid upwards of $50,000 to vendors in order to supply portable toilets, a stage, a security team, and some live musical performances. Everything was going according to plan until a last-minute live performance was scheduled for the end of the evening. A very large man in blue overalls, sporting a massive beard, took to the stage and began singing. The lyrics claimed that the coronavirus was a hoax, and invited listeners to chop up members of the World Health Organization. The entire operation was a hoax, planned out and executed by British actor Sacha Baron Cohen.
Sacha Baron Cohen’s journey
Sacha Baron Cohen is no stranger to donning disguises or stirring up trouble. Born in London and once a member of the Cambridge University Amateur Drama Club, Baron Cohen’s blood runs thick with theatrics. He has made a name for himself by creating and embodying a number of satirical characters, including Ali G, Borat Sagdiyev, and Brüno Gehard. In most of Baron Cohen’s projects, including Da Ali G Show, Borat, and Brüno, he conducts interviews while in the guise of these outlandish characters. His performances are often designed to wind people up, and often lead his unsuspecting victims into self-revealing ridicule. By conducting heavily dramatized behavior, Baron Cohen leads people to reveal ugly truths about themselves.
His latest performance also fits right into this same trend. Baron Cohen’s musical performance at March for Our Rights 3 was ridiculous and extremist, but many attendees were enthralled by the performance and happily sang along. Many listeners were supportive even as Baron Cohen sang about injecting Barack Obama with the COVID-19 virus, or killing members of the World Health Organization. The song also proclaims that the coronavirus is a “liberal hoax”.
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In an interview with NPR, Washington Three Percent founder and former leader Matt Marshall explained the event from his own perspective. According to Marshall, the group rejects racist and white nationalist ideals, instead being focused on the written constitution. After very positive correspondence with Back to Work USA, and a bit of hesitation from Marshall, he agreed to have the group fund his event. Upon hearing Baron Cohen’s problematic lyrics Marshall attempted to shut down the performance, only for Baron Cohen’s security detail to stop him.
Alt-Right leader shocked the attendees went along with Sacha Baron Cohen’s Racist chants
He explained that after the song was finished Baron Cohen and his entire crew fled to their cars and left immediately. Marshall, who is currently running for Washington state Legislature, commented that “It’s sad, it’s unfortunate that some people chanted back,” as Baron Cohen sang, and that the entire situation was, “just kind of a kick in the teeth.” Despite the founder’s insistence that his group does not support these extreme right-wing views, many in the audience sang along with Baron Cohen’s performance.
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The purpose of Baron Cohen’s appearance at this alt-right rally isn’t entirely clear, but given his past exploits it isn’t exactly shocking. However, The Wrap reports that the stunt was not filmed in order to be a part of the next season of Baron Cohen’s show Who Is America?, so it seems that this $50,000 production may have just been a bit of fun for the eccentric craftsman. Whether the performance will appear at all in the future, either as its own project or as a small part of a larger venture, remains to be seen.
Introducing Certain Kinds of Americans to the world in ‘Who is America?’
Who Is America?, which first aired on Showtime in 2018, is a political satire show where Baron Cohen interviews political figures while disguised as various eccentric characters. Former and current major figures in American politics, including senator Bernie Sanders, former president Dick Cheney and former presidential candidate Jill Stein. While conducting the interviews Baron Cohen adopts different roles such as far-right conspiracy theorist Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr. and British ex-convict Rick Sherman. The program is very similar to Baron Cohen’s previous series Da Ali G Show, where he would conduct various interviews under a number of different characters and aliases. It was on this show that the actor’s most infamous characters, the anti-Semitic homophobe Borat Sagdiyev and the flamboyant fashion show presenter Brüno Gehard, were first introduced.
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Sacha Baron Cohen has a long history of creating political and revealing satire. His endeavors are always big, loud and extravagant, and his musical performance at March for Our Rights 3 is no different. Despite the efforts of founder Matt Marshall, Baron Cohen’s ability to make the crowd sing along to such harmfully ignorant lyrics paints Washington Three Percent in a very bad light. As long as political rallies continue to occur around the country, groups will continue to have their voices heard by all those who follow them. And just as long as politics exists, Sacha Baron Cohen will continue to mock everybody involved.
Click here to read Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Black Lives Matter, in which he tackles more than just police reform, press freedom and more – click here.
An excerpt from the love letter: Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “Hollywood Insider fully supports the much-needed Black Lives Matter movement. We are actively, physically and digitally a part of this global movement. We will continue reporting on this major issue of police brutality and legal murders of Black people to hold the system accountable. We will continue reporting on this major issue with kindness and respect to all Black people, as each and every one of them are seen and heard. Just a reminder, that the Black Lives Matter movement is about more than just police brutality and extends into banking, housing, education, medical, infrastructure, etc. We have the space and time for all your stories. We believe in peaceful/non-violent protests and I would like to request the rest of media to focus on 95% of the protests that are peaceful and working effectively with positive changes happening daily. Media has a responsibility to better the world and Hollywood Insider will continue to do so.”
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