People have been wondering whether Sacha Baron Cohen will be able to continue doing Borat or his other characters in the wake of his widespread fame. The question is somewhat short-sighted in that it assumes a more universal cultural consciousness than actually obtains in the world. No doubt many more people now recognize Baron Cohen in his various guises, but networks of information and exchange in this country, as in every country, have few, if any, connection points.
Let's take an example, and here I'm assuming that everyone reading this in 2006 is a cosmopolitan of one stripe or another. One of the top-selling authors in American history is alive right now and his name is Tim LaHaye. He attracted the attention of The New Yorker last year, so he won't be totally unknown to my readers, but he has been around much longer than that and his Left Behind series of books has sold 63 million copies, according to his website. 63 million copies and I have never seen a single one despite teaching literature and writing for a living. I don't even know anyone who has read one of his books.
We tend to live in our own little echo chambers. We surround ourselves with people and media that reflect our taste and that cater to our needs. And that's okay. Frankly, I don't want to read the Left Behind books. They probably have as much to say about religion as Ben-Hur. I recently got a copy of the gnostic gospels discovered at Nag Hammadi and I'm looking forward to reading that, but again, that is a work editted by a scholar according to standards of academic textual scholarship so it, too, reflects my world.
The point is, all the people out there who shun the supposedly debauched world of the Hollywood elite probably don't know any more about Borat than you, dear reader, know about Tim LaHaye. The same is true of people who just don't see that far beyond their world. In the 1990's I asked my grandfather if he knew who Michael Jordan was. He did not. I was only mildly surprised. Why the hell would James Baker know Ali G? Does James Baker seem hip to you?
As for the Tim LaHaye industry, they are now selling Left Behind videogames. From the official website:
"Finally, we have an inspirational game for the marketplace that challenges game makers' beliefs that gore is better, by introducing one of the first high-quality games with a positive moral message. No blood, no gore, just great fun!" said Troy Lyndon, co-founder and CEO of Left Behind Games.
The Associated Press ASAP calls it " … perfect content for a video game. " … a positive moral message," states AOL.com
(Yes, that is the punctuation at the Left Behind site.)
A videogame with a positive moral message. Somehow, I think they're missing the point of videogames. And yes, there will be much more to say about æsthetics and didacticism in the future.