Last night, I was invited to a very chic movie night with my boyfriend. It was decided we would watch an epic classic of the past decade “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” due to the fact that some of us haven’t seen this masterpiece of cinematography (more specifically, the lovely host). I took this occasion to refresh my memories of this movie, because let’s just say I was too young to have watched all of it when it came out six years go. Today, this movie struck me, deeply struck. I also, lost all trust in Rotten Tomatoes, because as it appears, they have rated this movie *certified fresh* with 91 percent.
What is it that struck me so much? I guess the same reasons for which this movie was banned in the countries of the Arab world. It was banned under the excuse of being “vile, gross, and extremely ridiculous” as stated by a film censor for Dubai. I mean, sure the movie is humorous in parts… but I still can’t believe the fact that it deals with a real country – Kazakhstan. They could’ve invented any fictional country, but why mock and create false impressions of a real country? I realize that this movie was actually good for Kazakhstan in some ways… because it has awakened a sudden curiosity in people and they all rushed to Google whether it is actually inhabited by Borats and hookers. But I also realize that there are many ignorant people that were left with this permanent image of Kazakhstan, created by the British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.
As it should’ve been expected, the character of “Borat” was heavily criticized by the Kazakh Government, being a concoction of bad taste and ill manners which is incompatible with the ethics and civilized behavior of Kazakhstan’s people. Moreover, the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan threatened to sue Sacha Baron Cohen. I mean wouldn’t you feel the same way if Borat was from your country? What if they were making fun and creating false stereotypes of your people?
In the movie, Borat, a pathetic reporter from Kazakhstan travels to the USA with the purposes to study the American culture and somehow implement these learnings back in his home village. However, whilst changing channels in his New York hotel room, he stumbles upon a hottie from Baywatch, Pamela Anderson, or simply CJ Parker. He then sets out on a road trip to California… with intentions to marry and uncork his platonic love. The movie proceeds as he travels through small towns of the United States, conversing and getting to know Americans. “Hello, my name is Borat, I am from Kazakhstan” he says numerous times in a terrible Eastern European accent. The people around him seem to welcome him, and that is, in my opinion, what is most shocking.
Borat may be marked as a clownish, regressive foreigner, but as often as not in America he seems right at home. (Anton Bitel, Eye for Film)
Makes me wonder if this mockumentary makes more fun of Americans or Kazakhs? It is said that many of the scenes were improvised, and the subjects of the film were not aware that it was all a joke – in their eyes Borat was actually filming a documentary for Kazakhstan, that is how we get so many of the interesting reactions and humorous situations.
I have found the movie to be offensive in many ways. First of all, because it is obvious that “Borat” does not represent the average Khazakh person. Nor does his wife Oksana. Nor does his sister Natalia.
Second of all, there are oceans of racist comments and jokes towards Gypsies, homosexuals, Jews, and Uzbeks. Haven’t those people had enough discrimination in their lives? Why make it worse with silly movies? No matter how you look at it, this movie is not acceptable. I decided to write this post, because Russia has always had a very close relationship with Kazakhstan, a former republic of the Soviet Union… so yeah, it’s practically Soviet Russia… In Soviet Russia, Kazakhstan makes fun of you! According to Sacha Cohen, the joke was not on Kazakhstan, but instead on people who can believe that the Kazakhstan that he describes can exist… so yeah… I guess this post is dedicated to those people, if it is that they actually exist.