Bomb Rating: 

Unfortunately or not, I must digress from crankiness and address "Borat" in a way other than my usual sarcastic, semi-amusing schtick. This is because piling sarcasm upon sarcasm doesn't work very well, a lesson I learned all too painfully once writing for a national media outlet when I tried ripping apart an article that was itself a parody because I failed to understand the nature of the article in the first place. To say such an incident is a blow to one's intellectual self-esteem is a mild understatement.

I think I understand "Borat" pretty well. I suppose that it's more than possible that its star and writer, Sacha Baron Cohen, is a self-hating Jew, right along with the movie's director, Larry Charles. If so, that might make the charges of it being anti-Semitic valid. The other racist angle in the film concerns Borat's nationality. Since Cohen paints Kazakhstanis as backward, racist, sexist pigs, the film has been condemned as being racist. I didn't know Kazakhstanis were a race, but that's another argument.

It's just pathetic and sad that the Anti-Defamation League saw fit to complain about Cohen's so-called anti-Semitism due to a particular country western song calling on people to "throw the Jew down the well" on HBO. The irony is that Cohen is doing them a favor. Given Cohen's religion, do they actually think he's pulling a Gibson? Does anybody? Jesus, start asking some simple questions before calling the lawyers. Cohen is emphasizing the prevalence of anti-Semitic thought, not trying to spread it. Sweeping its existence under the rug doesn't make it go away, it just sends it underground. The more it's out in the open, the more good people can work to make it go away - to educate and inform and satirize if need be.

And that's hardly Cohen's focus here. What he does instead is connect the same sorts of social and cultural retardation in one part of the world with similar cultural retardation in America. What Cohen is examining is the ugliness caused by intolerance. American audiences ought to be a lot less frightened by the satirized attitudes of Borat than they are by the real gay-hating, race-baiting, women-hating attitudes of the Americans in the film. These are real people. Borat is fake. What Cohen is saying is, "Hey look, you've got more than enough real-life Borats to make lots of films right in your backyard." Frankly, it's disheartening as hell that more people don't realize this. They want to attack Cohen because looking inward is too hard.

The most pointed connection occurs at the rodeo, where Borat (Cohen) goes to sing the national anthem. For those unaware, Cohen's shtick is that he takes Borat into the real world and fools people, often catching them saying and doing things in reaction to Borat that are simultaneously hilarious, embarrassing and uncomfortable. At the rodeo, he interacts with a guy who spouts a variety of group-bashing bigotry. Cohen seems to be saying that one kind of hatred isn't all that different from another.

Cohen isn't attacking a race or a religion. He's satirizing bigotry. There is nothing wrong with that. It opens people's eyes to stupidity. Those who attack Cohen for being racist not only completely miss the point, they reveal their ignorant selves.

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no such thing as

Anonymous's picture

no such thing as Kazakhstanis , people in Kazakhstan are called Kazakhs. it is a race

Kazakh strikes back at Borat

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

 A film director from Kazakhstan has decided to take a shot at Borat in order to make benefit to his glorious country.


Asian auteur Erkin Rakishev plans a cinematic response to the famous Sacha Baron Cohen comedy flick, “Borat:Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”


The plot will follow an American tourist who visits Kazakhstan expecting to see the backwater he remembers from the 2006 Borat film, but instead finds a modern, prosperous nation.


{;-) Dan in Miami

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hmmm, interesting...

TMundo's picture

...I don't think Sacha's point was to literaly make fun of Kazakhstan, he said he just wanted to choose a little out of the way country nobody had heard of.  Unfortunately, how could he not piss them off in the process?

Much worse was the footage he shot in a poor town in Romania, telling the people he was shooting a documentary, and also the people who got screwed over in america, thinking he was shooting a documentary.  I recall one woman loosing her job, and the character of a few college guys getting defamed.  If people have to get screwed over that badly in the name of comedy, well, I don't think that makes it very funny.  Pissing off a few people in the subway is one thing, making people loose their jobs is something else.

oooh, here's a similar film on youtube

TMundo's picture

Borat is Bor ing

lrbloom's picture

I thought this was the worst movie I'd ever seen - this guy is like foreign version of Will Ferrell something - nothing funny - overrated nonsense

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