Series: Who Is America?
Available on Hotstar
There is a scene in Sacha Baron Cohen’s new show Who Is America? in which he interviews Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt. The conversation veers to marital rape when Cohen’s character says, “It’s not rape if it is your wife”. Pratt laughs and pumps Cohen’s hand. “That probably won’t be in the video we send to the Hill,” he says. There is nothing funny about marital rape, and it is a sign of how far we have sunk when we not only endorse it, but go one step further and treat it as a joke.
In the show, we have former American vice president Dick Cheney endorse torture by signing a “waterboard kit”. We have a group of gun rights advocates promote a programme called Kinderguardians, which aims to give guns to toddlers as a solution to school shootings.
Who Is America? is a scathing indictment on human depravity. Nothing is taboo anymore. Cohen talks about “kiddie fiddling” (paedophilia) and “free-bleeding” (menstruating) on the American flag with a blithe nonchalance. And the thing is, his listeners are not shocked. Neither are we, as watchers. Which makes me think the show is not restricted to Americans. It should be called Who Are We? and not Who Is America? Or rather, What Have We Become?