'Dictator' jokes about Christchurch
COMEDIAN Sacha Baron Cohen has joked about giving money to the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Fund in a promotional video for his latest film, The Dictator.
In the film, Cohen - known for courting controversy with his Ali G, Borat and Bruno characters - plays Admiral General Aladeen, leader of the fictional country Wadiya.
In a promotional clip called Admiral General Aladeen Greets New Zealand released today, Cohen, flanked by armed female guards, addresses Kiwis ahead of the film's New Zealand release on Wednesday.
"Today I urge you to stop what you are doing, cease your binge drinking, stop killing kiwis to make delicious fruit, and stop making silly laws prohibiting the use of the most excellent resource nuclear power.
"Today you must do only one thing, make plans to attend the opening of my film The Dictator.
"All profits will go the Christchurch earthquake recovery fund ... and will definitely not be used to build me a new Palace in Wadiya."
Paramount Pictures NZ publicist Matt Andree Wiltens said the quip was just "Aladeen's sense of humour".
"It's just Wadiyan propaganda. It's not actually legitimate, none of it is," Mr Wiltens said.
"It's not a joke about the earthquake.
"Aladeen and the whole film, The Dictator, is a satire and Sacha Baron Cohen is a comic genius known for pushing the limits."
Wiltens said the clip had been made by the studio, and many countries have similar videos, each tailored for individual markets.
"It's a way of letting Kiwis know about the film and personalising the message to them.
"We're not looking to cause offense with this, it's just something that ties into the character, which is in itself a satire.
"In the same way as we're not endorsing dictatorships, this is a way of drawing attention to several issues and they're all highlighted quite well in the film."