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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 10:31 GMT
Is Ali G racist?
Spoof character Ali G's new film has opened to a mixed response in London's West End.
Ali G, played by white comic Sacha Baron Cohen, is renowned for offering former MP Neil Hamilton a joint, an ill-judged BBC Radio 1 appearance and appearing in a Madonna video.
A group from Untold magazine, which has a high number of black readers, jeered arriving guests and complained the film, Ali G In Da House, was racist and should be boycotted.
The character Ali G has been accused by some sections of the black community as racist, because he adopts elements of black youth culture.
Has Ali G taken the joke too far? Is it time for Sacha Baron Cohen to move on to new ground?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
To be honest I do find Ali G offensive, the fact of the matter is that because he's from Oxbridge he gets away with it because an educated man could never be a racist. Frankly I find his brand of humour condescending to the youth of today who may very well aspire to achieve well in life and are instead shown that it's much easier to do as Sacha Baron Cohen has done and impersonate various ethnic groups in a vague attempt at comedy.
What annoys me even more about Mr. Cohen is the pathetic way he has avoided the media whilst under his own persona in case he is confronted by a sensible question as to whether he believes that the Ali G character has added to the widely held belief by adolescent lads that street crime and gang culture is something to aspire to.
This has all the hallmarks of a
comedian trying to milk his last few
quid from a character that ceased
to be funny months, if not years, ago.
Racist? Probably not. Boring, repetitive,
tired and unimaginative? Certainly.
I'm an African and thumbs up to Ali G. There are other worse things going on in the world today and so I say to all those frustrated people out there "the man is making us laugh...if you don't like it, don't watch".
As a student living in Birmingham who went to see Ali G last night, and I must say that I've never seen so many people from different ethnic backgrounds laughing about the same thing. Was it crude? - yes, was it funny? - absolutely hilarious!
Although the film is a comedy, Ali G does bring up issues of ethics as Ali has to save his local leisure centre, the result being that all the rival posses join together to form one 'massive' and save Staines. A thoroughly entertaining film from start to finish.
People have forgotten what humour is. Lighten up!! I thought British humour was about poking fun at yourself a bit.
Yus thinking I am racist yeah? I is simply taking the proverbial out of the way that the massive hang and their use of the slang in the street, innit. Me was not trying to offend the brotherhood, I give dem nuff respect. BOOYAKASHA to all ya brothers... RESPECT!
I don't see what all the fuss is about. People are getting the wrong end of the stick. Behind his exterior is an intelligent university graduate and his comedy appeals to the majority of our youth, and in many ways it brings all races together. Come on, just look at how much stick us Paddys get!
I'm black, Ali G made me laugh to begin with but as his slot extended from five minutes, to half an hour, to the film length now, it's basically got less clever and so less funny every step of the way. But no, I disagree with the politicians saying Sacha Baron Cohen is either being racist or glamorising black gangster chic - they imply that guns weren't being used in black communities like Moss Side five years before Ali G was created.
Brendan Fernandes, UK
What next? - Mr Blobby is actually a racist metaphor for Euro-Asian assimilation? He is, after all pink with yellow spots! Get real!
I'm in my late 20s I think the geezer is well funny...he makes fun out of everyone and everything from the NHS to the Beckhams. He just chooses a slightly different platform to do it from. I thought Father Ted was one of the funniest shows in years, it made fun of every aspect of Irish culture and coming from that culture myself I haven't met one Irish person who was offended by the show.
Cohen, a white man pretends to be black. Is this racist? Lenny Henry, a black man, has poked fun at white stereotypes for years. Is this racist? OF COURSE NOT! The whole debate about Ali G trivialises the real issues around racism and xenophobia in the UK.
Iz it coz 'e iz white?
The character, and let us not forget that "he" is just a character and not a person, is a caricature of those who aspire to certain aspects of modern culture (many of them from black culture) while completely failing to understand them. The funniest thing about Ali G is his insistence that he is black, and the willingness to accept this on the part of some of his audience and interviewees, despite the fact that he is clearly not.
John Kearney, UK
As has been said here, Ali G is a satire - it is a very observant view of modern youth society. It takes 'street cool' to the limits, mocking people's desire to be like their offensive role models. Don't be fooled - Sacha is extremely intelligent, very fast, and not stupid enough to put himself on the block. If people have real concerns, there should be an open forum, hosted by Cohen, and we'll see who puts across the best argument!
Whatever it is he is sending up, it's become embarrasingly dull and a reflection of his shallow talent. Monty Python came up with about 10 new characters every week, Sasha Cohen can't manage two in five years!
James Kerr, England
Banal and unfunny, yes. Racist NO. Some people just seem to look for offence.
What he is and what he does is neither funny or amusing, he is just a crude lout who is making a lot of money out by appealing to the impressionable youngsters in this country who don't know any better.
I take offence to Peter Walker's comments that Ali G is subject only to the young and 'those who don't know any better'. Has he heard of opinions? I have watched some very intellectual debates which study his work and he has been called a comic genius by some. I wouldn't agree with that, but he's certainly funny.
No. He satirises white or Asian youths who dream of being black and affect a black vernacular. Black is cool whereas one's own skin colour is not. C'mon, what's the problem? Save your anger for real racism.
Colin Wright, UK
Think it the other way; if some black comedian adopted some elements from white youth culture and would be accused of racism, what would that sound? Unbelievable, of course, just as this claim. No need to be over-sensitive.
I totally agree with Peter from Finland; if this were turned around it wouldn't be a problem. Ali G is hilarious! There is nothing racist whatsoever in what he does - it's just a laugh! Stop looking into things too much and take Ali G as he is meant to be taken - a comedian.
How precious is society becoming? Everyone knows who the real targets of his humour are, the suburb dwelling white teens who are so ashamed of their own culture that they try and mimic someone else's. But is it time for him to move on? Yes, it's getting a bit boring, but was quite funny when it started. I always preferred Borat anyway.
20 Mar 02 | Film
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20 Mar 02 | Reviews
Ali G keeps it real
18 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Radio 1 apologises for Ali G outburst
18 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Hamilton 'shared joint' with Ali G
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