— General Aladeen
So I just watched The Dictator, the Sacha Baron Cohen vehicle that has him satirizing Middle-Eastern/North African dictators, among other things. Yeah, it’s out of control like you would expect, and you’re not sure if you should be laughing at some things, and some things are kind of dumb and don’t work. But I think the main thing I took away was how the film presents inconsistency in beliefs and behaviors: it permeates the whole thing. It starts with stereotypes of course, but these stereotypes end up oscillating between stereotypical stuff you expect and unexpected or opposite behaviors. Some would argue that this is just poor conception or writing or whatever. But I dunno.
This approach really smacked me in the face about halfway through, when The Dictator (Adm. Gen. Aladeen) walked into a Wadiyan (the fictional North African country he lords over) dissident restaurant in NYC. One of the running jokes in the film is that Aladeen changed the name of a bunch of concepts in the Wadiyan language to his actual name, and this caused mass confusion. For instance, ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ are referred to by the same word: aladeen and aladeen (the character is pretty much modeled after the insane Gaddafi, Libya’s recent dictator who was overthrown in killed in the Libyan revolution). Anyway, the door of the restaurant had a sign that you flip over, with one side saying ‘yes, we’re open’ and the other saying ‘sorry, we’re closed’, except open and closed were replaced by ‘aladeen’. See, that’s inconsistent and crazy because that’s a dissident restaurant whose patrons loathe Aladeen, so why would they keep alive that insane tradition in the language? Maybe they were doing it to be ironic, but the scene doesn’t suggest that at all.
Anyway, I kinda see the film as speaking to stereotypes and inconsistency in our own beliefs and our interpretations of others. I don’t know if I’d call it an essay, exactly, heh. In its presentation, it’s kinda like how I imagine Col. Gaddafi’s mind worked. The ending pretty much solidifies what I’m talking about.
It’s my experience that we believe we exist in the day-to-day world safe in the knowledge that we operate from a consistent framework of beliefs and principles. But I’d venture to say that we consistently act against previously stated beliefs/principles, or we say things we’re not sure we really believe.