So 2011 brought us the “Arab Spring.” Will 2012 be “The Dictator Summer?”
The trailer for Sasha Baron Cohen’s new film hit a few weeks ago and it seems more timely than ever. The film is based on Saddam Hussein’s (alleged) book, Zabibah and the King; a novel about a love affair between a monarch and a peasant, Zabibah, whose life is made miserable by her rich, abusive husband and neighbors. Sounds terrible. To no surprise, the characters serve as an allegory for Iraq in the years following the first Gulf War: the king represents Saddam; Zabibah, the Iraqi people; her husband, the evil United States; and rich neighbors, Israel. Poor Iraq, apparently Saddam wasn’t too adept to subtlety.
To totally give away the ending because I am sure everyone was one click away from ordering this gem on Amazon… Zabibah is sexually assaulted by a mysterious figure who turns out to be her spouse (uh hum, the good ol’ US of A) then tragically killed on January 17 (the day the US bombed Iraq.) Deep shit, Saddam.
Luckily, Baron-Cohen’s version is a bit less heavy. Which he describes as a film “about a dictator who is secretly replaced by a look-alike goatherd and must rebuild his life in New York City.”
Is this the Middle East’s Coming to America? Time will only tell. But, Baron Cohen plays both the dictator and the goatherd, while Anna Faris plays the Zabibah figure. The film also stars John C. Reilly and Jason Mantzoukas (Raffi from “The League.”)
Well, unfortunately, Saddam isn’t around to check out the theatrical debut of his “work” nor is Gaddafi to see his likeness strewn across the screen. However, if precedent holds true, The Dictator will most likely be a satire on us, using the likenesses our sworn enemies. Oh the irony.