Gay rights groups in the US have mixed feelings about Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest film venture Brüno.

The satirical film features Cohen playing the character of Brüno, a flamboyant gay Austrian man, in various scenarios said to contain over-the-top gay stereotypes.

The filmmakers say the intention is to highlight homophobia and the audience’s prejudice, but there is concern that some might not get the satirical edge of the film.

According to Universal Pictures, “Brüno uses provocative comedy to powerfully shed light on the absurdity of many kinds of intolerance and ignorance, including homophobia. By placing himself in radical and risky situations, Sacha Baron Cohen forces both the people Brüno meets and the audience itself to challenge their own stereotypes, preconceptions and discomforts.

“While any work that dares to address relevant cultural sensitivities might be misinterpreted by some or offend others, we believe the overwhelming majority of the audience will understand and appreciate the film’s inarguably positive intentions,” the company said in a statement.

“Some people in our community may like this movie, but many are not going to be okay with it,” Rashad Robinson, senior director of media programs for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation told the New York Times. “Sacha Baron Cohen’s well-meaning attempt at satire is problematic in many places and outright offensive in others.”

According to Brad Luna, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the organisation believes that an on-screen message asserting the film’s intention is required.

“We strongly feel that Sacha Baron Cohen and Universal Pictures have a responsibility to remind the viewing public right there in the theatre that this is intended to expose homophobia,” he said.

Aaron Hicklin, the editor of Out magazine, disagrees: “The movie does something hugely important, which is showing that people’s attitudes can turn on a dime when they realise you’re gay. The multiplex crowd wouldn’t normally sit down for a two-hour lecture on homophobia, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen. I’m excited about that.”

Cohen has not personally commented on the concerns raised by the LGBT activists and organisations. Brüno is set for release on July 10 in South Africa and the US.

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