Sacha Baron Cohen Has Been Banned from the Oscars

In an act of sublime self-seriousness, the Academy has banned comedian Sacha Baron Cohen from the Academy Awards this weekend for fear that he’ll show up as the outrageous authoritarian ruler he’s playing in his upcoming movie The Dictator. It does seem like a bit of an obnoxious publicity stunt for Baron Cohen, and a sign of how he views his very good work as the disabled and embittered train station master in Martin Scorcese’s Hugo, which is up for a slew of awards. But the Academy comes across as awfully over-sensitive about what is, at its core, a deeply silly and self-celebratory promotional event for its products. Or maybe The Dictator just cuts a little close for the many Hollywood celebrities who have taken huge payments to perform for authoritarian leaders, a practice that became awfully uncomfortable last year during the Arab Spring—the movie show’s Baron Cohen’s character paying to sleep with starlets including Megan Fox.