Borat can’t pretend it’s satire while being racist and sexist, outright


When Borat came out in 2006, I haven’t seen it (I was 12) – but I had a strong sense of how happy my classmates were. The film, which follows a fictional fanatic Kazakh journalist to America, where he says the unspeakable and documents American prejudices on his merry way, resonated deeply with teens of the early 2000s: mankini, toilet humor, the [Borat voice] “Very good,” which often echoed throughout the class. In my mind, this fits perfectly with the youthful humor offered by South Park, Little Brittany, and another of the creations of the writer and actor Sacha Baron Cohen, Ali G Indahouse.

So, during the release of this month’s new Borat movie: Next film Borat: Delivery of a stupendous bribe to the American regime to benefit a glorious nation of Kazakhstan, I was surprised to learn that Borat is in fact widely loved by critics on what appears to be a deeply intellectual level; and that the new episode, which sees Borat returning to the United States with his daughter Tutar to take on anti-masks and Trump supporters, would prove to be a huge success.

So if like me you’ve never really committed that much, or if you were a kid when the concept of Borat first hit the cultural landscape, here’s the deal. The common intellectual case for Borat is that the film is satirical. Yes, while the character himself is racist, sexist, and bigoted in so many other ways, it does help persuade Americans (often Republicans) to feel comfortable enough to expose that they themselves have these. opinions.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s mustached alter-ego rose to fame after the original 2006 hit movie

(Amazon Prime Video)

Although Borat is fictional, the politicians and the people he interacts with are real – and the fact that they not only believe Borat is a true Kazakh, but often feel able to reveal their own racism and sexism when they interact. with him, is shown as proof that the joke is about Americans, Republicans, racists and sexists. By targeting these groups, Borat strikes, and thus avoids being offensive. Or at least this is the case with Borat, retained both by liberal critics and by Baron Cohen himself. But does it work in practice?

I’m not sure it’s that easy. One of the first signs that Borat’s concept was failing in 2006 was that the film had been banned in Kazakhstan, due to its portrayal of the country as anti-Semitic, sexist, and globally “upside down.” Not in a subtle way, but in an obscene way. Borat, like many other natives of his hometown, celebrates the Holocaust (for more context, Baron Cohen is himself Jewish). Stories from Borat village also refer to incest and rape. As a satirist, Baron Cohen is supposed to rehash an old joke about Americans’ ignorance of other cultures – he’s not showing the real Kazakhstan, but what Americans think of countries like Kazakhstan.

But in practice, it seems that Borat is doing more harm than good to the under-represented country, especially since the Kazakh people have launched a petition against the new film, signed by 110,000 people. Many additional accounts from Kazakhs, especially the few inhabitants of the United States and the United Kingdom, have shown that many Britons and Americans in fact believe that Borat is a realistic representation of Kazakhstan. This begs the question: Despite Baron Cohen’s stated intention, how can we be sure that all audiences “understand” the nuance of such a risky joke? And when it comes to the film’s wide and disparate fan base, are 30-something movie critics and 13-year-old school kids really laughing at the same thing?

The Kazakhs are not the only ones who are unhappy with the way Borat has shown the country on screen. Scenes from “Kazakhstan” in the original Borat, which shows people living in extreme poverty, were filmed in Glod, a Roma village in Romania. The villagers seen in the film are true residents of Glod, who then took legal action against the film, claiming they were exploited, misled and humiliated. A leader of the Roma community claimed that the villagers were told that it was a documentary rather than a comedy. He also said that community members had each received around three euros for Baron Cohen’s privilege of labeling unwitting villagers “rapists” or “abortionists,” or of installing cows in their homes. Does it continue?

Baron Cohen, as Borat, goes undercover at a gun rally in Washington in one of the sequel’s biggest sets

(Amazon Prime Video)

To clarify its policy, there are parts of Later Moviefilm supposed to demonstrate to the public that victims of racism and sexism can be good people (in case you didn’t already know). Unfortunately, they also end up being treated as fodder for the audience’s laughter. Take Jeanise Jones, Tutar’s 62-year-old babysitter, who worries about the exploitative nature of Borat’s relationship with his daughter, and tries to take the young woman under her wing and guide her, as a woman. to woman. Jones is one of the few likeable characters in the film, but she receives the same “Borat treatment” as his most abominable interviewees – with an element of racism – as he asks her, “Will you be my new black wife? It’s painful to watch and you end up feeling sorry for Jones, who has now spoken of feeling “betrayed” by the film. She said Page six: “They told me it was a documentary so that this young woman understood that she had rights and that she could do anything a man can do. I felt pain for her.

The film undoubtedly raises old questions about what satire can actually accomplish. In the current climate, I’m very skeptical of the idea that emulating the more obvious face of bigotry will do anything to challenge it. Writer Jason Osamede Okundaye articulated this well in a genre pullout from ‘ironic racism’ earlier this year: ‘Baron Cohen secures his cultural cachet by baiting and caricaturing what the liberal and bourgeois public consider to be the old-fashioned face. , stupid and odious of racism – while giving oxygen to abominable views.

It has been said time and time again that in Trump’s America there is increasingly less leeway for satire – the president is a reality TV star who shouts at neo-fascist groups on national television. In the end, this is the most glaring new pitfall that emerges Later Moviefilm; Racist views are no longer a secret, taboo revelations quietly revealed to a foreign documentary filmmaker – they are rife on Facebook, they are in the White House, and many fascists will gladly put their names on their opinions. As one reviewer wrote for Free time: “Do you want to admire the white supremacists who display their Nazi ideology at a rally? Turn on the news. “

So, since Baron Cohen isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know, what is Borat really doing? If racism and sexism can no longer even be justified as a means to an end of exposing a greater truth… isn’t it just racism and sexism outright?

The more criticism I hear, I usually associate myself with keep talking Later Moviefilm, the more I became confused. Maybe in these times the bar is low.

That’s not to say that there aren’t good parts of Later Moviefilm. The times when Baron Cohen hits clean are the strongest, such as when he storms a conservative conference disguised as Trump and is dragged out. There are also some tangible positive things that can come out of this project – for example, I sincerely believe that his final blow involving Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani could dent the US election. But unfortunately, for Borat, many more are collateral damage.


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