Growing up in Australia, we first saw Ali G in Madonna’s music video for her song “Music” (2000). We weren’t familiar with the man behind the character, Sacha Baron Cohen, until the release of the Borat film.
Alistair Leslie Graham, known as Ali G, was one of Cohen’s satirical fictional characters which first hit television screens on The 11 O’Clock Show (1998) on Channel 4 in the UK. Ali G lived in his grandmother’s garage in what he called the “Staines Ghetto”, in Staines, west of London. The character was a stereotype of a chav imitating hip hop culture, speaking with an accent and using Multicultural London English.
The character of Ali G was so successful that he was able to convince people he was a real person. Da Ali G Show (2000-2004) aired for 3 seasons and 18 episodes and starred three “journalists” which are now three iconic Cohen characters: Ali G, Borat Sagdigev and Brüno Gehard. They would interview celebrities and politicians, being politically incorrect, making wild claims, and even managing to fool people into agreeing with them. Being able to stay in character the entire time during these awkward interviews is a talent so few have mastered.
Ali G Indahouse, the 2002 theatrical film, made $26 million at the box office, and even spawned the song “Me Julie” performed by Ali G and Shaggy.
It would be remiss of us not to mention that Cohen has received his fair share of criticism for Ali G. Many have concerns that the character negatively portrays black stereotypes. Cohen says Ali G is meant to parody white, privileged youth who act like black British youth, and that no malice is intended. You’re free to draw your own conclusions and opinion on the character.
If you’re unfamiliar with Ali G, you can find a number of episodes and compilation videos on YouTube.
For such a colourful character, it’s funny that both of the Ali G tattoos we found are in black and grey. Would you get an Ali G tattoo? Or would you choose another of Cohen’s characters?
For tattoos of another Sacha Baron Cohen character, Borat, click here.