BORAT, CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN : IGNORANCE IS BLISS
Since September 11th, the movie going audience have been bombarded with films with messages about patriotism, the questioning of our government, religion, and racism. Most recently, movies such as United 93 and World Trade Center have taken it upon themselves to remember what we stand for as a county. Sacha Baron Cohen has a different take on America. He uses comedy ingeniously as the character Borat, a native of the country Kazakhstan. But there is an underlying message with his humor. This message will make you downright uncomfortable.
Borat Sagiyev is a simple man who lives in a small town. His home is primitive. His relationship with his sister is incestuous. He is anti-Semitic, racist and chauvinistic. So when he gets the chance to go to America to observe our way of life, he jumps at the chance. When Borat gets to New York, he watches the television show Baywatch. From that point on he becomes infatuated with Pamela Anderson and travels across the country to California so he can make her his wife. Along the way he meets with all walks of life. He meets with an etiquette coach so he may have dinner with high society. He has fun with a prostitute (no, not that kind of fun). He gets a wild bear for protection. And all of his traveling takes place in a used ice cream truck with his producer Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian) .
Sacha Baron Cohen won’t do interviews as himself, invoking an Andy Kaufman-esque method to his comedy. This shows his commitment to spreading his message as Borat. The humor at first glance may seem silly. Borat becoming infatuated with Pamela Anderson after watching one episode of Baywatch can seem understandable. But wrapping a Baywatch magazine like it is his Bible is a different story.
He is trying to tell us as Americans that our priorities are out of whack. His conversation with an older gentleman at a rodeo elaborates on Middle America and their racist and homophobic views. The majority of the people that Borat interacts with aren’t aware of what they are taking part in. As such, they show their true selves. We get to see an honest but scary version of some Americans and why we can be hated as a nation. It made me uncomfortable and embarrassed that these people on screen were representing the United States. And the fact that there was a congressman in the film made it even worse. The story is novel and Cohen is superb as Borat. He does the straight man like nobody I have ever seen. But it was the originality of the film and its comment on society that make it innovative.
There is one scene in the film that was blatant in its sexual overtones and nudity. I tend to think of myself as a liberal person and 100% against censorship. So it saddened that me that during the scene there were black marks covering a certain male body part. But yet in a previous scene a male body part was shown exposed. So by causing censorship to occur, Cohen has even unintentionally made another statement in regards to our values and what we feel is offensive.
Borat is not your average U.S. comedy. It is hilarious and will make you wince. It is smart and revolutionary. Sacha Baron Cohen has crossed the line of absurdity to make a point. Hopefully you were listening.