Twitter loves it, and also, Twitter hates it. Sacha Baron Cohen has always been a provocateur, but the reaction he is getting with his latest effort, Showtime’s Who Is America? is notable, even for someone who makes his living trolling people.
Who Is America? also breaks new ground creatively, observers note. Cohen duped and mocked several prominent Republican politicians, including former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Alabama politician Roy Moore and former congressman Joe Walsh, but he also targeted the left, including Bernie Sanders.
Along the lines of his previous performance art-style pieces (Borat, Da Ali G Show), he shows up in disguises and essentially cons his subjects into making more and more outlandish admissions and policy recommendations.
The most notable portion of Sunday night’s premiere involved Cohen masquerading as an Israeli gun enthusiast; in the process, he convinced gun-rights advocates and GOP politicians (including former Mississippi senator Trent Lott and GOP congressmen Matt Gaetz, Dana Rohrabacher and Joe Wilson) to endorse programs training toddlers to use guns.
The subjects objected on Twitter. Palin characterized the show as "truly sick." Walsh also admitted the Cohen "got him good," but others ate it up.
Actress Annabelle Wallis called it "one of the bravest uses of comedy I have ever seen. It sparks a very deep moral conversation about the world we live in and it is HILARIOUS!! I am in shock and awe…OH MY GOD." Comedian Chelsea Peretti hailed it too, writing "IT IS BEYONDDDDDDDDD. SO FUNNY AND SO DARK AND HAS INSANE DEPTH. PPL SHOWING WHO THEY TRULY ARE. AMAZING."