Sacha Baron Cohen has a way of exposing the worst sides of people. In most cases, this makes for funny, if sometimes shocking, segments — like exposing a Georgia State Representative's "willingness to use racial epithets" or Republican lawmakers' support of a fictional guns-for-kids program.
Occasionally, however, things get too dark even for Cohen, who is famous for his fearlessness on camera.
While filming a segment of his latest project, Who is America? for Showtime, Cohen encountered what he believed to be a pedophile ring in Las Vegas, Nevada. He decided not to air the footage and instead turned it over to the F.B.I., who ultimately decided not to pursue the case.
@IndieWire The FBI investigates college sports recruiting. Seems like they could investigate this.— Kit Kansas (@Kit Kansas) 1545691213.0
According to Deadline, Cohen was in character as "Gio Moldonado," interviewing a hotel concierge from Vegas when things took a dark turn. Cohen began implying his character had molested a young boy, thinking the hotel worker would leave the room in disgust. That is not what happened:
"We thought that the guy would leave the room. Instead, this concierge stays in the room and I go, 'listen, you've got to help me get rid of the problem.' And this guy starts advising Gio how to get rid of this issue. We even at one point talk about murdering the boy, and the concierge is just saying, 'well, listen, I'm really sorry. In this country, we can't just drown the boy. This is America we don't do that.'"
Is it true actor Sacha Baron Cohen discovered a pedophile ring and turn them into the FBI and they refused to investigate?— Liza Trainer (@Liza Trainer) 1545886522.0
The concierge instead said he could connect "Moldonado" with various lawyers who could silence the young boy. Deciding to probe even further, Cohen asked the concierge if a date could be arranged with a boy "lower than Bar Mitzvah but older than eight," to which the concierge replied:
"...yeah, I can put you in touch with somebody who can get you some boys like that."
@Slate Even Sacha Baron Cohen knows better when to hand something to the FBI than the president does— Calvin Graves (@Calvin Graves) 1545695084.0
The clip was deemed too dark even for Who is America? and Cohen sent the footage into the F.B.I. for investigation. Though investigators decided there wasn't anything worth pursuing in the interview,
Cohen made a point of telling Deadline:
"This concierge had said that he'd worked for politicians and various billionaires.
@Slate "Can you get me a date for tonight? You know, like a young man. He says, 'Well, what kind of age?' I say, lo… https://t.co/XKVDMk3jXe— Seth Yoder (@Seth Yoder) 1545694781.0
@Slate Man those last few paragraphs.— Jared Helmerci (@Jared Helmerci) 1545695035.0
@IndieWire Wow. We’re so close to brutality and depravity at every turn aren’t we?— W. Sun Chien (@W. Sun Chien) 1545694987.0
Who is America? actually filmed several segments that were widely publicized without ever making it to air. Cohen famously tricked politicians Sarah Palin and Ben Carson into interviews, but the comedian decided the clips didn't quite meet his standards of hilarity:
"There was a lot of pressure on me from the channel to put out Palin...but ultimately, I looked at the footage and it just wasn't funny enough."
Just saw that Sacha Baron Cohen asked Sarah Palin to be his date for the golden globes and I’m dying— Tony (@Tony) 1545333404.0
Who is America? garnered positive reviews and a Golden Globe nomination, but Cohen has claimed a second season will never become reality.
He told IndieWire the program would be impossible without the now-diminished element of surprise:
"It would be impossible. We relied on the fact that no one was expecting me. I hadn't done anything undercover for over a decade and so nobody thought, 'Oh wait a minute, is this a Sacha Baron Cohen character?' That's the problem."
@IndieWire that’s exactly what he WOULD say— Jack Fiasco (@Jack Fiasco) 1545638923.0
@samtripoli Bummer, I have never laughed and felt so ashamed at the same time. https://t.co/3GwTcmnDeo— 🇨🇦 Stephanie🍁 (@🇨🇦 Stephanie🍁) 1545425000.0
Fans may lament the lack of a second season, but we'll always have these gems of American political discourse:
Sacha Baron Cohen: Who is America? Childrens Gun Advertwww.youtube.com
Official Clip ft. Jason Spencer | Ep.2 | Who Is America? | SHOWTIMEwww.youtube.com