Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Ramon C. Cortines has been incensed by a photo shoot of Cohen, in his role as gay Austrian fashionista "Bruno," that appeared in the latest issue of GQ magazine and on its website. It showed the scantily clad comedian in poses with the Birmingham football team, including one on top of a player on the ground.
"I don't believe that there is a place on any high school in America, including Los Angeles, for photos such as these," Cortines said in a news release issued by his office.
Cohen, perhaps best known for his portrayal of the wide-eyed Kazakhstan hero Borat, is hoping for similar success with his Bruno character. Bruno already caused a stir at the MTV Movie Awards when Cohen's bare buttocks descended on rapper Eminem in pre-planned stunt.
Told that some who have commented to The Times had suggested he might have reacted as he did because the character played by Cohen is gay, the superintendent strongly disagreed. "It has nothing to do with whether one is heterosexual or homosexual," he said. "There is just no place for this kind of scene on a school campus using students."
Birmingham was paid $500 for the shoot, according to the superintendent, and the players turned in parental consent forms. However, the district said an investigation determined that the forms did not specify the nature of the shoot. The district also said the photos violated California Interscholastic Federation rules, which prohibit students from wearing football uniforms out of season.
It seems extremely short-sighted to invite this type of controversy for a paltry $500, but that's another matter altogether. If you had a student at the district, what would your reaction to these photos be? Is it right for these parties to be disciplined or is this an overreaction. And, do you think there'd be the same kind of uproar if the Bruno character wasn't gay?
Coach, principal being disciplined over 'Bruno' photos (Los Angeles Times)