Talkback: Was It Wrong To Use Kim Jong-il's Death For Free Dictator Publicity?
The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il this past Sunday inspired hope in some and fear (that Kim's mysterious 20-something son Kim Jong-un will continue his father's tyranny) in others. But for Sacha Baron Cohen -- the comedic actor/writer/producer who reveled in staging uncomfortable situations in his mockumentaries Borat and Brüno -- Kim's death inspired a publicity push for his upcoming comedy The Dictator.
Early Monday afternoon, Paramount and ostensibly The Dictator star, writer and producer issued a statement from the perspective of his Dictator character -- North African despot General Aladeen:
I am saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend Kim Jong-Il. Our thoughts go out to his wife and 813 children. "K-Jo" was a great leader, good friend and average double's badminton partner. He died as he lived, in 3-inch lifts. An extraordinary man, he did so much to spread compassion, wisdom and uranium throughout the world.
On behalf of myself, Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Newt Gingrich, we would like to welcome his son, Kim Jong Un into the "Axis of Evil."
In addition to the statement, which quickly circulated online, Cohen & Co. used the North Korean leader's death as an excuse to start a Twitter feed for his Dictator character -- @RepublicWadiya -- and tweet his eulogy.
The opportunistic marketing scheme raises the question: Was it wrong, disrespectful or just in bad taste for Cohen to use Kim Jong-il's death to market his film, especially considering the millions of North Korean people who starved to death, lived in poverty and otherwise fallen victim to Kim's ruthlessness regime? Or is it wrong for us to expect anything less from a man who has made a living out of provoking people with politically incorrect statements and gestures on-camera?