Who Is America?

Who Is America?

Part of a series on Sacha Baron Cohen. [View Related Entries]

Updated Aug 17, 2018 at 10:24AM EDT by 3kole5.

Added Jul 09, 2018 at 04:50PM EDT by Matt.

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About

Who Is America? is an American television series created by and starring comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. The show aims to explore and satirize the diverse political spectrum of the United States of America.

Online History

On June 29th, 2018, the Showtime television network released a teaser for an unnamed show that would be released on July 15th, 2018. While the ad claims that they could not name the series due to a nondisclosure agreement, they referred to is as perhaps "the most dangerous show in the history of television." The post (shown below) received more than 300,000 views in two weeks.[3]



Several days later on July 4th, Sacha Baron Cohen tweeted [1] another teaser for the series, featuring footage of President Donald Trump criticizing Cohen. The post (shown below) received more than 7,400 retweets and 25,000 likes in five days.




On July 8th, Cohen announced the show on his Twitter[2] account, posting another teaser that reports the show had been filmed in secrets and features an interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney. The post (shown below) received more than 8,000 retweets and 30,000 likes in 24 hours.




The next day, Showtime released an official teaser for the series. The video (shown below, left) received more than 18,000 views in less than 24 hours.

On July 15th, Showtime released a 10-minute preview of the series on YouTube. The clip features Sacha Baron Cohen in disguise as Israeli Anti-Terror Expert Col. Erran Morad convincing gun rights activists and members of the House of Representatives to participate in a video for "Kinder-Guardians," a faux political campaign to arm 4-year-olds. The clip (shown below, right) received more than 4 million views in 24 hours.



Reception

Response from Guests

Leading up to the series premier of the series, numerous politicians and political commentators announced that they had also been tricked by Cohen and his characters. On July 13th, 2018, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin appeared on Good Morning America to give one account of an interview with Sacha Baron Cohen. Palin claims that the interview was pitched as a real discussion about the disabled and the rights of veterans, which was then subverted by Cohen disguised as a disabled person.



On July 15th, radio host and former congressman Joe Walsh tweeted,[4] "What can I say Bradley? @SachaBaronCohen got me. Do I believe kindergarteners should be armed? Hell no. But, it's on me. Sacha fooled me good. Flew me out to DC for some made up friend of Israel award. I gotta live with it." The post (shown below, left) received more than 640 retweets and 3,600 likes in 24 hours.

That day, he also tweeted,[5] "I agree David. I gotta own what I said. But @SachaBaronCohen flew me out to DC, put me up in a hotel, all to have an Israeli TV network give me a big 'Friend of Israel' award. The entire thing was a big lie. But he got me to read 30 seconds of crazy stuff about guns." The post (shown below) received more than 50 retweets and 185 likes in 24 hours.


Joe Walsh @WalshFreedom What can say Bradley? @SachaBaronCohen got me. Do I believe kindergarteners should be armed? Hell no But, it's on me. Sacha fooled me good. Flew me out to DC for some made up friend of Israel award. I gotta live with it. Joe Walsh@ @WalshFreedom I agree David. I gotta own what I said. But @SachaBaronCohen flew me out to DC, put me up in a hotel, all to have an Israeli TV network give me a big "Friend of Israel" award. The entire thing was a big lie. But he got me to read 30 seconds of crazy stuff about guns. David Frum@davidfrum I'm really really not loving this game where @sachabaroncohen repeatedly takes advantage of people's affection and respect for the State of Israel to deceive and humiliate them. twitter.com/WalshFreedom/s...

Jason Spencer Segment

The second episode of Who Is America? featured a segment with guest participant Georgia state representative Jason Spencer, best known at the time for a proposed ban on men and women from wearing clothes that cover the face, which would have effectively banned Muslim women from wearing veils.[8] In the segment, Cohen, disguesed as an Israeli antiterrorism expert Erran Morad, designed a training seminar, during which Spencer drops his pants, reveals his buttocks, imitated a Chinese person in a segment where he trained to take up-skirt pictures of fully-veiled Muslim people and screams numerous racial epithets.

On July 23rd, 2018, the segment was uploaded to YouTube. Within two days, the video (shown below) received more than 3 million views.



After the segment aired, several members of the Georgia state government condemned Spencer's actions and called for his resignation.[9] In a statement, the speaker of the George House of Representatives David Ralston said in a statement, "Representative Spencer has disgraced himself and should resign immediately. Georgia is better than this."

That day, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal tweeted,[10] "The actions and language used by Jason Spencer are appalling and offensive. There is no excuse for this type of behavior, ever, and I am saddened and disgusted by it." The post (shown below) received more than 890 retweets and 3,700 likes.


Governor Nathan Deal @GovernorDeal The actions and language used by Jason Spencer are appalling and offensive. There is no excuse for this type of behavior, ever, and I am saddened and disgusted by it.

Jason Spencer initially responded to the piece by blaming Cohen for duping him. In a statement,[11] he said:

"In 2017 I received countless death threats in connection with my introduction of legislation involving the wearing of masks. The threats escalated to the point that my wife received threatening phone calls concerning her and my children. I was very afraid for my safety and the safety of my entire family.

"Then, on June 14th, a gunman opened fire at members of Congress on a baseball field. I knew people on that field. Now, the fears I already had became more intensified as the reality of my family being targeted by a similar, deranged, would-be assassin became even more possible. I was in such a poor state of mind that my wife and I also undertook marriage counseling with a licensed therapist during this time.

"Sacha Baron Cohen and his associates took advantage of my paralyzing fear that my family would be attacked. In posing as an Israeli Agent, he pretended to offer self-defense exercises. As uncomfortable as I was to participate, I agreed to, understanding that these ‘techniques’ were meant to help me and others fend off what I believed was an inevitable attack.

"My fears were so heightened at that time, I was not thinking clearly nor could I appreciate what I was agreeing to when I participated in his ‘class.’ I was told I would be filmed as a ‘demonstration video’ to teach others the same skills in Israel. Sacha and his crew further lied to me, stating that I would be able to review and have final approval over any footage used.

"I deeply regret the language I used at his request as well as my participation in the ‘class’ in general. If I had not been so distracted by my fears, I never would have agreed to participate in the first place.

“I apologize to my family, friends, and the people of my district for this ridiculously ugly episode. Finally, there are calls for me to resign. I recently lost my primary election, so I will not eligible to hold office next term. Therefore, I will finish the remaining five months at my post and vacate my seat."

Two days later, on July 25th, Spencer announced that he would resign from his post on July 31st, 2018.[12] In an email, he said, "This email/letter is to serve as an official resignation notice to your office that I will be resigning my post effective July 31, 2018."

Who Is America? Appearance

On July 29th, 2018, the Who Is America? released a clip of former senatorial candidate Roy Moore the series. In the segment, Cohen disguises himself as an Israeli anti-terror expert and interviews Moore about a device that can detect pedophiles. When Cohen turns the device on, it begins beeping when waved in front of Moore, who has been accused of having sexual relationships with underage women. Moore leaves soon after the device begins recognizing him as a pedophile. The video (shown below) received more than 1 million views in 24 hours.

That day, Vulture[12] ranked Moore's appearance #3 in a list of whose appearance was the most "Damning."



Moore responded to the segment by explaining that he received an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., where he would receive an award for his support of Israel. He wrote in a statement, "I did not know Sacha Cohen or that a Showtime TV series was being planned to embarrass, humiliate, and mock not only Israel, but also religious conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Joe Walsh, and Dick Cheney[…]As an American, I would never hide my identity and deceive others only to mock and ridicule them as this Showtime Series is designed to do."[13]

Critical Response

The series received mixed reviews upon its premiere. The review aggregator Metacritic[6] gave the series a score of 50 based on 16 critical reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes [7] scored the series a 62% based on 29 reviews. In their critical consensus, the site writes, "Fleetingly funny and all too relevant, Who is America? proves Sacha Baron Cohen still has something to say -- though its nihilistic approach may not be the right way to say it."

Search Interest

External References

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