Media stunts are very much hit or miss. With the reaction to Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest stunt being very much divided, here are two opposing views.  

For Austin it was a hit

 Sacha Baron Cohen’s PR perfection at the Oscars saw his upcoming film ‘The Dictator’ promoted in every major news outlet across the world. The cost? A suit, an urn and ‘Kim Jong Il’s ashes’.

Showing up at the Oscars in full costume as his latest creation, General Aladeen ‘dictator of the Republic of Wadiya’, Cohen proceeded to empty the ashes of Jong Il over the red carpet and interviewer Ryan Seacrest.

This was perfect in every way. No filmgoer remotely familiar with Cohen’s previous work or even the premise of his latest film is going to decide not to see The Dictator because of the stunt. Instead, the whole world now knows about its release and will be reminded of his antics at the Oscars when it is released.

As for the venue, it too, could not have been better. In an our age of austerity there is something about an over-the-top awards ceremony that takes itself seriously, rewarding grossly overpaid actors, writers and directors (of such films as the Artist because it’s silent and therefore presumably ‘quirky’), which makes you glad a 6ft-3in British Cohen turns up, without taking himself, or the death of a tyrant, remotely seriously to add some light relief.

 Charlotte was unimpressed

 I’m with Donald Trump on this one; Sacha Baron Cohen’s stunt at the Oscars was ridiculous and disrespectful. It doesn’t help that I dislike the guy, but what annoys me the most is that a silly stunt like this deflected all the media attention away from the actual talent at the awards.

There’s a time and a place for stunts and, for me, doing it at a classy awards ceremony was totally inappropriate. It may have created chatter during the awards and a few photos in the papers the next day, but by the time his latest film is released, will people remember this? Even if they do remember, will it just be because it was so crude and crass? Any attention is not always good attention. I certainly will not be going to see the film.

The verdict

So was it a success? At Firefly, we remain unsure – but we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the official box office figures on May 11th, when ‘The Dictator’ is released,  to see what they have to say about this divisive and controversial stunt.

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