Political satire is Sacha’s comedic tool, and satire is using irony to portray people, culture and politics in a ridiculous fashion, therefore alienating us from the object of humor. What’s ironic is that I felt empathy for the Dictator as he grew from a lonely little boy with Daddy issues into a Mubarakesque democratically elected prime minister (with an astounding 99.9% of the votes- which pretty much gives away the entire movie).
I reject Dean and Assif’s contention that The Dictator is just an active “brownface ministerial” undertaking. Their point being that Muslims and Arabs best know how to portray the stereotypes incorporated into films like The Dictator. That argument would mean that law enforcement should let Muslims do the counter terrorism investigations because American Muslims are best at creating terrorism plots. Neither of these arguments work for me because they are premised on this narrow contention that itself is stereotypical of a minority community’s inability to gain or wield social and political power.
On the other end of the spectrum is the American Muslim pre-emptive outrage as expressed in online petitions and ambivalent social media discussions around the movie. One such petition making the rounds reads “It promotes negative stereotypes of Arab culture as well as places a prejudice against Islam and Muslims. This Film may initially seem to merely poke fun at the Authoritarian regimes so often found in the Middle East, however what it does not show is the reality and views held by this regions population.” The petition goes on to say that the movie is a satire making profit by promoting ignorant and stereotypical views about Islam and Arabs.
What Dean and the petition got right was that they haven’t seen the movie, instead they jumped to conclusions. Dean’s being a very sad short sighted, maybe misguided, conclusion about the roles minority’s should play in Hollywood and the petitions author’s not understanding or appreciating the social utility of satire. Rather than talk about something you haven’t seen, it makes more sense to go watch it, unless of coarse you plan on boycotting it out of moral obligation. But than don’t talk about the movie like you know what it is because you’ve been watching the trailers, I mean what happened to not judging a book by its cover?