sacha baron cohen’s new series is “perhaps the most dangerous show in the history of television”
It features the former Vice President of the United States signing a waterboarding kit.
From Kazakhstani journalist Borat to the gay Austrian fashion reporter Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy shtick hangs on pushing stereotypes within an inch of their caricatured lives. It’s sometimes smart satire and sometimes misses the mark entirely. And not just because he popularised the fluorescent green over-shoulder 'mankini' for Halloweeners, stag-do lads and intrepid beachgoers alike.
Fear not, woke ones. This time Sacha’s taking on a group wholly deserving of unbridled mockery: American politicians. In a just-released clip for his new show, Who Is America?, subtitles ask, “Imagine if Sacha Baron Cohen had been undercover secretly filming a new show for a year.” Cut to Dick Cheney signing a waterboarding kit at Sacha’s request. The former Vice President of the United States autographing something that’s been unequivocally condemned as a torture device. With a smile.
Not that it’s surprising: Cheney has been a longtime proponent of the controversial interrogation technique. Back in 2006, he said that the process -- designed to simulate drowning -- is a “no brainer”, adding, "But for a while there, I was criticised as being the Vice President for torture. We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in." To see him happily autograph it on camera like Charlie Sheen scribbling on a fan’s bottle of Oxycontin is a smart -- albeit it highly distressing -- dig at Cheney’s hypocrisy. And idiocy.
Not that Cheney necessarily knew it was Sacha -- the question comes from a ‘journalist’ with a thick accent -- presumably the character Sacha’s been masquerading as for the past year. Which is just as well, because Sacha Baron Cohen is definitely not endorsed by the current President of the United States. “This third rate character named Sacha Baron Cohen -- I only wish that he would’ve been punched in the face so many times right now he’d be in a hospital,” Trump says in the first clip advertising Sacha’s new show, which came aptly came out on the fourth of July. “Sacha Baron Cohen, go to school! Learn about being funny.” It’s a clip taken from a video Trump posted online in 2012, as response to Sacha crashing the Oscars as his character from The Dictator to dump “ashes” on Ryan Seacrest.
Good news for Trump. As the teaser points out, Sacha has gone back to school. In fact, he’s gone back to Trump University. And he has graduated.
According to a different promotional video released by Showtime two weeks ago -- and including no further information due to non-disclosure agreements -- the project will come out on 15 July. The promo did, however, trumpet the series as “perhaps the most dangerous show in the history of television.” Which isn’t exactly true. I’d argue that that prize goes to The Apprentice, for giving Trump a platform in the first place.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.