Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen attracted as much anger as plaudits this week, after the premiere of his new satirical television series, Who Is America? aired on Channel 4 on Monday night.
The British-born actor, best known for his controversial Ali G and Borat characters, adopts a series of outrageous personas to lambast Trump-era politics and culture.
In one of his most audacious sketches, Baron Cohen disguised himself as Israeli colonel and anti-terror expert Erran Morad, who speaks to pro-gun lobbyists about ‘Kinder Guardians’, his novel idea to ensure children aged three to 16 are taught how to handle such weapons.
Among those on board with the idea is gun rights advocate Philip Van Cleave, who agrees to take part in a promotional video for young children, urging them to aim at the “head, shoulders, not the toes, not the toes”.
Meanwhile, Trent Lott, former Senate Majority Leader, said of the Kinder Guardians programme: “It’s something we should all think about, putting guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens, good guys, whether they be teachers, talented children or highly-trained pre-schoolers.”
Former Congressman Joe Walsh excitedly added: “In less than a month,
a first grader can become a first grenader”, while lobbyist Larry Pratt was more direct in his enthusiasm for the project.
“Toddlers are pure, uncorrupted by fake news or homosexuality,” he declared. “They don’t worry if it’s politically correct to shoot a mentally deranged gunman. They’ll just do it.”
Ahead of the show launching, former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin described the humour of Sacha Baron Cohen as “evil”, “exploitative” and “truly sick” after claiming she too had been duped into giving him an interview.
There are suggestions Donald Trump may also have unwittingly been involved with the series after Baron Cohen shared a video of the US president blasting the comedian on Twitter.
In the video, Trump said: “This third-grade character named Sacha Baron Cohen – I only wish that he would have been punched in the face so hard, so many times right now, he’d be in
American-Jewish politician Bernie Sanders, who ran against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, was also interviewed by Baron Cohen while under the guise of a right-wing conspiracy theorist – but the experience left him more baffled than aggrieved.
Despite the hype and promise of well-known interviewees , Who Is America? struggled to pull in a wide-reaching audience and averaged only 802,000 viewers, or just 5.4 percent share of the public.
Watch the trailer video ‘Who Is America’ here:
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