If you're offended by Borat, then the joke's on YOU !
by: Amir Nadimi
Brilliant satirist and impersonator Sacha Baron Cohen delivers 'piss in your pants' humor to
the big screen in his latest film debut "Borat ~ Cultural Learnings of America for make benefit
Glorious nation of Kazakhstan". After much controversy for its anticipated release on
November 3rd, Sacha Baron Cohen's character Borat delivers satire and absurd humor like
no other. I had to actually watch this entire movie twice to fully grasp the full concept of
Cohen's intent in presenting this stereotypical former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan's
fictitious character "Borat". The fact is that it seems as if they miscellaneously threw on a the
globe and picked Kazakhstan as the country of origin for this chauvenistic back-water
'Eastern' character. From glorifying Kazakhstan as "third largest exporter of human pubes" to
proudly presenting his sister (and apparent lover) as "Kazakhstan's 4th best prostitute",
Cohen tests the audience's level of knowledge and ability to grasp the humor in these
references. One might say what is so funny about declaring Kazakhstan's third largest export
as human pubic hair? Well it is funny, first of all because it is absurd , second of all because
Cohen posing as his fictitious character Borat the
cheeseball "Kazak Journalist" on his quest for "Cultural
learnings in America"
MOST people have no clue what Kazakhstan's third largest export is or WHERE Kazakhstan may even be located on a world map ! BORAT
has stirred so much controversy that it has actually aroused an upset Kazak Government who is officially lobbying a boycott of the film and
has even held Cohen liable for 'defaming their nation in the eyes of the world'. I know where Kazakhstan is and so may you or somebody
you know. But the fact is, most people have no clue where it is and I can actually say that Cohen in many ways offers an opportunity for
audiences to seek their own "cultural learnings" and look up Kazakhstan on Google or Yahoo (realistically, it doesn't matter which search
engine you use, cause you'll end up reading the Wikipedia page on Kazakhstan anyway right ?). My point is, Borat has put Kazakhstan on
the world map and I see no reason for any Kazak or other Ethnic person to be offended by his satire. If you're offended, then the Joke's on
YOU ! Borat is meant to offend. In this film he offends everybody, from local hoodlums to the upper crust of 'high society'.
Cohen's intelligent attempt of exposing some disturbing realities in American
society ranging from dormant hatred and fear of other cultures amongst Rodeo
spectators in Texas to fundamentalist religiousity of the Southern U.S.'s Bible-Belt.
Some of the secnes make you question how this kind of cultural behaviour may
be any different than what is seen by everyday news tv watchers of negative
portrayals of "hateful, angry religious Arabs" or any other carefully crafted imagery
we see on media ? Case in point, Borat is raw ! Media coverage of the
Middle-East or any other "Ethnic hot spot" is NOT. Corporate Media filters, taints,
sugarcoats, cuts, slices edits and presents what it deems worthy to be seen by its
owners and other corporate sponsors. However, Cohen's satire is exactly the
opposite. This "mocumentary" of sorts is brilliantly calculating yet honest and
candid. What else can you expect from a former Cambridge Psychology major ?
SOME Jewish groups are upset at the negative depiction of Jews and others are
just offended at the overrall portrayal of this character as a back-water old school
ethnic mentality chauvinistic oddball. In the film, most of the dialogue between
Borat and his trustee Information Ministry co-traveller is spoken in Armenian,
Romanian and broken Hebrew !! You may be asking yourself, "I don't get it, where
does Kazakhstan come in all of this" ?The answer is nowhere .
Borat could be from anywhere. Bulgaria, Romania, Armenia or even Albania
(which was the country of origin of Cohen's Borat character early in its development). Borat describes as one of his former occupations as
"Gypsy Catcher". Lucky for me, my friend's wife who watched the Premiere with us happens to be Romanian and pointed out to us that the
dialogue and scenes taking place in "Borat's village" is actually a village of gypsies filmed on location in the mountains of Romania ! But to
the viewer, it's just somewhere in Kazakhstan. In reality Kazakhstan is one giant flat territory north of the Caspian Sea that just happened to
fall victim as now what is to be one of the most memorable satires on the Big Screen since Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator". Loosen up
and have a laugh, Borat's the bomb.
contributed by Amir Nadimi