Here's a new case in point: A woman in California who ran a charity bingo tournament has sued Cohen and his corporate promoter, NBC Universal, for causing her a brain injury that's forced her into a wheelchair. Rochelle Olson claims in her lawsuit that Cohen grabbed the microphone at the event in Palmdale, Calif., and started using vulgarities in front of an elderly audience while calling the numbers. When she tried to take the microphone back, she states, she was surrounded and attacked by the camera crew, looking for a "dramatic, emotional response." When she ran from the stage, she fell and hit her head on a concrete slab.
Cohen and NBC Universal are offering no comment on this story.
Then there's Eminem, Cohen's comrade in shock, who is trying hard to sell his newest slab of hate-rap after a five-year hiatus -- so hard he's willing to have a bare male butt thrown in his face, twice. Once was more than enough for the audience grossed out at home. But Eminem was thrilled. He told the website RapRadar.com "I'm thrilled that we pulled this off better than we rehearsed it."
A few weeks ago, Time magazine's Josh Tyrangiel suggested Cohen surpassed Eminem in shock value through his Borat stunts. "Baron Cohen was darker, funnier and way more misanthropic than Eminem -- which is how it goes with cultural instigators," he wrote. "They poke, we react; they poke again, we react a little less, until eventually someone with a sharper stick and a bushier mustache comes along."
What surely troubles most in that sentence is Time magazine's gleeful admiration for misanthropic instigators who are mining the bottom of the barrel for the newest, darkest mockery. Cohen was admired for broadening the attack on decency to "mocking all Americans ... for being naive enough to believe their own mythology." Cohen painted Americans as racist, anti-Semitic, and stupidly in love with their own country.
By contrast, Tyrangiel thought Eminem wasn't really sincere enough with his instigating on his latest disc. By the middle of the first song, he's "masturbated to Hannah Montana and left a pile of bodies behind the counter of a McDonald's."
Tyrangiel continued, "On 'Medicine Ball,' he promises to rape the Pussycat Dolls and spits out a couplet of abuse for Madonna and Rihanna, while 'Same Song & Dance' has him raping Lindsay Lohan in one verse, and Britney Spears in the next. Suffice it to say that many more rapes occur and I stopped taking notes."
Just as the average Time reader would put down the magazine in revulsion, Tyrangiel yawned in print. "Are you outraged or just bored? Eminem has trampled these boundaries before."
When on Earth do our sick-headed "tastemakers" find enough is enough?