Friday, November 10, 2006

Borat -- love it or hate it??

I mentioned last week that I loved BORAT. I wasn't proud of myself for laughing at a lot of it but I did. Then, judging by the audience reaction and feedback from friends and readers I assumed pretty much everyone loved it.

Not so.

A comedy writer I very much respect hated it. Then a few other friends did too. And it seems they're not alone. This article in New York magazine really pans it and explains why.

So my question to you this weekend -- did you love it or hate it and why? I look forward to your comments.

Coming Monday: my Holiday Movie Preview.

52 comments:

The Bunny said...

Me like Borat, you like me? I'm a comedy writer too. The movie is good and it had some of the funniest scenes I've ever seen. But it wasn't the funniest movie I've ever seen, but it had some incredible moments.

Ironically I think its actually a great documentary more than a great comedy film. The people that are real in this movie let so much truth out. None of this "reality" show I know I'm being taped truth. The people had no idea this would be playing in American theaters so they were themselves. They didn't hide their true selves. It was great.

As for the New York reviewer, who cares? They have their facts wrong. Pam Anderson was in on the joke. Does the reviewer really believe she had no idea. Come on that's just stupid.

As a Jew myself, I understand the mindset of Cohen. I love that he can explore antisemitism without the audience feeling bad about it because he is a Jew.

First and foremost he's a comic genius with balls of steel. Secondly, he has something to say about the world we live in. Comedy shouldn't be safe. It should make people uncomfortable to be great. Fart jokes are fun, but comedy is the truth people are afraid to say outloud.

Will Teullive said...

It is a flat out great movie. But, I've heard some folks get a little carried away and say "greatest comedy ever".

How quickly we forget "Freddie Got Fingered"

Khyle said...

I, for one found it hilarious. I have not laughed that hard since, uh...I don't remember. In my non-scientific poll, it had the lowest average time between guffaws ever recorded.

It has it's issues, but anything that can make people laugh at nude male wrestling has to have something going for it.

Joshua James said...

I loved it, and I laughed so hard I squeaked. I also went in thinking I might hate it, but I didn't. I laughed my ass off, as did the entire theatre full of new yorkers.

"Let's go back to New York, there are no Jews there!"

Entire theatre erupted. That's not a jackass moment, that's real wit.

That being said, I can surely understand why some folks might not like it or even hate it, you bet.

I think, especially with edgy humor, if you're not pissing SOMEONE off, you haven't gone far enough.

Sam Kinison used to make me laugh so hard I couldn't hear. He's definitely not for everyone.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the scenes that were with unsuspecting people were incredibly funny, truly brilliant. And I'm talking about things like the chicken on the subway, the feminists, the rodeo, the gun shop owner, the dinner party, etc. However the clearly written pieces that did NOT involve unsuspecting people, like virtually all of the Borat and Pam Anderson stuff in her hotel room and the nude wrestling match with his producer and climactic scene with Pamela Anderson were not funny, clearly very ham-handed in their execution... although that is only my opinion as the audience I saw the film with loved those scenes too.

And the above paragraph is not a criticism, just an observation. I can understand the problem of having to create a story and through-line for a movie of this type and the hilariously funny scenes certainly outweighed the much less funny created scenes. So I think that Sacha Baron Cohen should be really proud of his film.

And by the way, I don't know if a lot of people know this or not, but there were several VERY good writers who participated in helping him work out a lot of what you saw on film and they did not get screen credit. Because it seems like they are cool with that, I won't mention their names here, but they contributed enormously to the comedy you saw and if you're really in the business of writing, it won't be hard for you to find out who they were. (And no, I was not lucky enough to be one of them.)

JOHN LEADER said...

I must be getting old (like I have a choice?)...watching people get humiliated increasingly makes me uncomfortable.

And, I know it sounds cynical (remember I'm getting old), but I'd say most of Borat's "victims" were in on the joke before hand.

Funny? Sure for a few minutes. For a whole movie? Not so much.

Jason Orrill said...

Put me and my wife in the "loved it" camp. My wife is one of those who typically acknowledges the humor in something, but doesn't typically laugh out loud. Not so during "Borat." However, she did avert her eyes during the infamous wrestling scene.

I'm not familiar with Edelstein, but if he's so uncomfortable watching people get confronted by their shortcomings that he can't watch a baseball player strike out (seriously?), then he has no business commenting on something like "Borat." I have to wonder what he thinks of "The Daily Show" or "The Colbert Report," which do the same thing to people on a regular basis.

Jason Orrill said...

One other thing, and I'll go away-- Salon.com has a piece up about what was real (and not) in the movie. Most of the folks were not in on the joke, although a couple suspected.

Bryan said...

I loved it, whether the entire thing was scripted or not. Watching that naked fight scene, I haven't been that uncomfortable and laughed that hard at the same time since they brought out the gimp in Pulp Fiction.

Christopher said...

Borat is a certain strain of humor and you dig it or you don't. Either way, it ain't The Second Coming or The Apocalypse of Comedy. Nor is he what I would consider a "comic genius". No way he stacks up with a Charlie Chaplin, Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor, Dave Chappelle, or Larry David.

And my biggest drawback with it as a comedy writer is that a ton of the comedy comes from someone who doesn't know they're in on it - so where's the real creative talent in that? It's not a lot different than me grabbing a Canon handheld, pouring a Slurpee on a bum, and posting it on YouTube. The end result is the same - you're laughing (or not) because someone was made to foolish on camera. Wow. Look. I’m a comic genius. Hardly.

Genius is in the crafting of something, not the accidental discovery of it.

I don’t care who helped set up the situations in “Borat”, because if the heart of the comedy involves someone off the street providing you candid comments, than the “creator” of that comedy is 100% expendable.

With regards to the reviewer, somebody needs to take the laptop away and hand him an appointment for a shrink - I mean, come on, not being able to watch someone strike out in baseball? Wonder what he thinks about UFC? And I wonder how many times his lunch money was taken at recess? Yikes...

Rob Spalding said...

I thought it was hilarious.
Don't know if I'll ever get the image of them wrestling out of my brian.
The cut between the kids running up to the ice cream van and the bear roaring out doubled me up - even though I knew what the joke would be.

Strangest thing is the one line me and my brother have picked up on to keep quoting - "Fuck off Death!".
Mostly because it's so incidental, and it was a subtitled joke and my brother hates subtitles.

Danny-K said...

It's a truism that:
"There's nothing new under the sun"
because it's just struck me:

- Sasha Cohen IS Andy Kaufman!

Cohen, in his movie, foists the uncouth Borat upon an unsuspecting public; likewise Kaufman did the same with the abusive lounge singer Tony Clifton. Cohen doesn't tell jokes or do stand up, nor is he a a comedian in the traditional sense. Wikipedia says this about Kaufman: "He disdained from telling jokes and engaging in comedy as it was traditionally understood. He was one of the most famous practitioners of anti-humor or dada absurdism". Also Kaufman never agreed he was a comedian.

Couldn't that description of Kaufman's 'art', also be used to describe Cohen's modus operandi too?

One example of the absurdim's Cohen enacts through Borat: Hollywood movies have characters who reach for the word 'shit' almost every time something fails to go to plan, no one worries whether children hear movie stars say it or not, so much so that it has become almost ubiquitous. The high and mighty will use it at the drop of a hat. The word and its meaning has lost it's power to shock - everybody uses it, but in Borat's hand's you have this:
On the doorstep of someone's house he asks: "Excuse me, I cannot wait any longer, please how-you-say, may I shit in your house?"

Those who find the Borat movie distasteful, I envisage, (in this instance), as some kind of hand-kerchiefing Niles, recoiling in horror at THAT word being used in SUCH a manner, upon an unsuspecting public.

Ken, you say you know a comedy writer who hates the Borat movie, and that he's not alone in that view. I think if we rolled back the years the same sentiments would have been equally laid at the door of Andy Kaufman.

Shit man! I rest my case.

Tod Hunter said...

I don't even want to see it.

There's something nasty about roping people in by saying that this project is an Eastern-European documentary and then taking advantage of their good nature by using them as dupes for a comedy sketch.

I have seen the Borat character on entertainment segments on TV news shows -- where the interviewers are in on the joke -- and I agree that he's very funny.

But I don't care for the ambush bits.

--t

wcdixon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wcdixon said...

I'm a big Boral fan and found the movie very funny.

And I posted not too long ago the suggestion that he was Latka (Kaufmann) meets Tom Green.

http://uninflectedimages.blogspot.com/2006/10/i-just-figured-it-out.html#links

Bosley said...

I'm a comedy writer and while I enjoyed the movie immensely, I don't think it's the masterpeice some people are calling it. It seemed to me like they cut a LOT of stuff out of the movie because they probably just wouldn't be able to show it in the theatres. I'm looking forward to the DVD because I just know they got so much more footage.

Now I know as a comedy writer that pacing is very important. However, while I'm glad the movie wasn't three hours long, the movie didn't seem to take its time as much as the T.V. show. When I got home from the movie they were playing an Ali G marathon on HBO. I was really surprised how much funnier I thought that was because Cohen let the scenes play out more. I just loved all the awkward pauses as the unsuspecting interviewees just can't believe how stupid Cohen's characters are. In the movie it seemed that Borat would say something funny, then BOOM cut to another gag. I totally understand why they did it, because in any other comedy I would do the same thing. But alas I think the TV show really hit the nail on the head.

Danny-K said...

Will,
- That's makes two of us that agree we see an Andy Kaufman connection! What prize do we win?

Don't know how I missed your Oct 31st blog (read it now though), as I'm only here after reading your blogs, and following your remembrance trails and your recommended blogs-of-interest that had Ken Levine tagged there as well.

Hmm... Oct 31st... yeah, think you were onto the Kaufman comparison a week or so before a light lit-up above my head.

RAB said...

I haven't seen the movie, but I've seen Cohen doing the Borat character a number of times and he doesn't impress me at all. He's just a very weak performer. Any comparison to Andy Kaufmann insults both of them.

It amazes me that so many people appear to be taken in by Borat and believe for even a moment that he's a real Khazak when Cohen's delivery is so flat and unpersuasive...but we may have to give some credit for that to the producers, who have carefully targeted only the most credulous subjects and shuffled aside anyone who would spot the act. I suppose there's some "biting satire" to be found in some Americans being so insular and sheltered that if someone plays the "goofy little foreign guy" they'll overlook all the obvious clues he's a fraud. That sort of thing certainly flatters the audience for being smart enough to see what the ignorant yokels miss. But it seems a cheap source of humor to me.

JimK said...

I put it to you that those who are "offended" by this film are A: pretending to as to appear more highbrow and smarter than those who laugh at what is basically gross-out, racial and funny-word-based comedy - or B: they are uptight jagoffs who can barely muster enough wit to do their jobs as writers. And half their jokes contain some reference to wine or houndstooth.

Wait, I just thought of another choice. C: they're not frigging smart enough to get the social satire, they only see the first layer of Borat being stupid. I'll bet a lot of these same people think South Park is nothing but fart jokes.

Borat is simply funny. That's all there is to it. Every form of comedy that exists is in that character, from goofy sounding words to pure farce to gross-out to sex-based to Jew jokes to the whole Kaufman thing, it's all there.

Takes talent to pour all that into one mold.

Webs said...

I saw the movie in September, and I knew it would be a hit. Every quadrant in the theatre was laughing: "You'd think Borat wouldn't be for everyone, but the older couple on my left laughed as hard as I or Simon on my right did. I offer my fullest admiration to co-star Ken Davitian for his bravery during the hotel fight and subsequent chase scene. That takes balls."

http://101squadron.com/2006/09/borat.html

Danny-K said...

Rab:
"I haven't seen the movie, but..."

"... He's just a very weak performer..."

Rab, no offence, but you've missed your calling; you should be in politics.

RAB said...

Danny-k: no offense, but judging from the way you cut "...but I've seen Cohen doing the Borat character a number of times..." out of that sentence -- knowing full well that it invalidates your attempted dig -- you clearly already ARE in politics.

Anonymous said...

Sing along with "Throw the Jew down the well": You're in on the joke

Make up your own lyrics: You're an Anti-Semite

Do I have this right?

fivegoodhours said...

Loved it. It takes a kind of genius to peel back the skin of a culture like ours and reveal some of the nastier aspects in a way that is spit-take funny and gut-churning uncomfortable at the same time. Chickens. Nude obese guy. Finding the lord that played like a scene from "The Snake Pit". Hell yeah!

Danny-K said...

My apologies Rab, you'll have to excuse me, I'm fairly new to this blogging and commenting game - I didn't realise that in the blogosphere it wasn't at all necessary to actually watch a movie before offering a definitive opinion of that movie.

P.S. I don't think any one's been misled as they could see I'd placed your comments on two separate lines and separated by (...) to show they'd been lifted out of context, and were not presented as one sentence.

The point is, you admit to not seeing the movie, but do admit to basing your opinion of Cohen's movie, based on the out of context Borat clips that you have seen. On that, I'd say my out-of-context comments and your method of reviewing a movie, were a complete match.

R.A. Porter said...

I've not seen the movie (and don't intend to) because I don't find Cohen's characters funny. My wife and I forced ourselves through Ali G once because her boss had insisted on it. I've had better oral surgery.

So am I: "pretending to...appear more highbrow and smarter than those who laugh at what is basically gross-out, racial and funny-word-based comedy"; "uptight jagoffs"; or "not frigging smart enough to get the social satire"?

Wait, let me provide some more data points so JimK can complete his analysis...
LOVE
- The Daily Show and Colbert
- South Park
- Broken Lizard's work
- Puppies
- Long walks on the beach
- Wine

HATE
- post-WW Sorkin
- The Office
- Lost
- Mean people
- Alex Rodriguez
- Houndstooth (weird...I mean, I like wine)

I would happily provide more of my likes and dislikes, but only if someone buys me a nice dinner and brings me some flowers.

The point is that someone can think Cohen is "shit" without somehow lacking humor or being pretentious. I'm glad others enjoy Borat and even more glad I live in a society where I'm not forced to.

Danny-K, I assume that Rab, like me, has suffered through Cohen's interminable comedy on his television show. That's far more than just a few out-of-context clips, and more than enough to know whether or not he likes it. It was certainly more than enough for me to last a lifetime.

I am not Star Jones said...

I liked the movie -- especially when he is restored by his true love with the black, fat, blonde escort woman from the South.

And although I liked the movie, I did get the feeling that
it played on certain American prejudices & peculiarities in a way that make well-educated and urbane feel very comfortable and smug about not being that kind of American.

It seemed to ignore the possibility that even well-educated and urbane people can still be limited and myopic about social/cultural/political issues.

Dwacon said...

I'll let you know when it shows up on HBO or Showtime and I can tivo it. Not paying $9 to see a film so... well, you know.

Was fun reading how Sasha got punched out in NYC trying his Borat schtick on a guy in the street. Hugh Laurie had to save him.

Now THAT is funny!

-- dwacon

Not Quite Decartes said...

I laughed, therefore I found it funny.

Douglas McEwan said...

"Underlying the above account is not a plea for a more civilized, courteous, or comfortable kind of comedy."
While David Edelstein is correct in this sentence, I fail to see how this is an even remotely germain criticism. BORAT doesn't claim to be "a plea for a more civilized, courteous, or comfortable kind of comedy." Nor do I, for one, WANT "a more civilized, courteous, or comfortable kind of comedy." COMFORTABLE??? When comedy is comfortable, it is DEAD. "The Donna Reed Show" was civilized, courteous and comfortable. So was Ozzie & Harriet, "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It to Beaver". They are also BORING. David Edelstein needs either a time machine to take him back to 1960, or he needs to write about something other than comedy. I suspect he would have cringed at Andy Kaufman, and cringes at a Barry Humphries stage show. I know now that if I ever see his bi-line on a comedy review again, I can skip reading it altogether.
I shared a stage with Andy Kaufman, and even with his alter-ego Tony Clifton once. It wasn't comfortable, but it was damn funny. Sam Kinison was a friend of mine, and I watched audiences laugh their heads off at him, and other audiences walk out on him. You knew something special was going on; something dangerous and exciting, the opposite of the billion Seinfeld clones trying to get laughs with "What's the deal with shoelaces?" All the "Observational" comics on earth added together aren't as funny as five minutes of Barry Humphries slicing elegantly to the core of our prejudices.
Edlestein doesn't even seem to understand what he's seen. When Borat singles out one of three middle-aged ladies at that dinner with "Her, not so much." the joke isn't that the woman isn't attractive. She's actually no less attractive than the other two. It's Borat's amazingly frank rudeness, his savaging of a social taboo, and his making a non-existant differentiation. And once they themselves are freezingly rude to the sweet prostitute (Yes, a ringer. Really an actress.) Borat invites over, any sympathy for these women evaporates. Their snobbery has been revealed.
The nice people Borat deals with aren't humiliated or made fools of. The sane, civilized driving instructor isn't laughed at. He copes with his ridiculous pupil quite well. The guy in the New Yorker's article's picture teaching Borat how to tell a joke comes across well also. It's the bigots and monsters who come off badly, because they've been allowed to reveal their inner horrors. He let's us see how bigots talk when they're alone with other bigots. This is good, and if the release of the movie humiliates them, GOOD!
BORAT is not the funniest movie ever made, nor the funniest movie I've ever seen. It's just the funniest one I've seen this year.

Oh, and once again I am amazed at the gall of people in this comments column who feel qualified to criticize a work, be it books or films, that they have not seen, read, or experienced. Folks, if you haven't seen the movie, you are not qualified to have an opinion on it.

Freudian Slip said...

I have to admit that I loved it. Sure, its not for everybody, but that doesn't mean its not good.
Matt

R.A. Porter said...

Don't know if I'm one of the galling ones to Douglas McEwan, but just in case...I never saw It's Pat because I'd seen Julia Sweeney's character and didn't find it funny. Likewise A Night at the Roxbury. I can't comment on those movies, but I can certainly say that I find all those characters to be uninteresting and unfunny. Borat hasn't been constructed of whole cloth for this film, so I feel comfortable commenting on my feelings about both the character and his creator.

I can neither speak for nor defend anyone else who holds an opinion of the movie, the character, or the creator; however, I'm justified and comfortable with mine. I'm shocked I feel strongly enough about this to write anything, but the if you don't get it you're stupid attacks against those who dislike or criticize Cohen from Danny-k and JimK triggered a deep-seated need.

Again: didn't see the movie; haven't liked Cohen in the past, including the Borat character; don't believe liking Cohen's work is a litmus test for humor; and never appreciate those who claim superiority because of their entertainment preferences.

D. McEwan said...

Having seen "It's Pat", I can tell you you were wise to skip it. I can not comment on "A Night at The Roxbury" as I haven't seen it. My general experience of SNL sketches-into-movies is that whether the character works well on the TV or show or not is no borometer as to whether the the films will be good. The films all suck, and I have seen most of them.
As for Cohen, none of the appearances or clips I saw prior to the film impressed me at all. A friend dragged me to it, but the movie was great. If I'd stayed with my prejudgements, I'd have missed out, as you are doing.

FW said...

As to be expected with the movie's sudden "hit" status, there is a slow but constant development of more serious anti-Borat movie criticism out there.

On the web a good example is is over at "cinephilia". It states more directly, what many of the others just touch on, as seen from its opener:

"Borat..FINALLY answers the burning questions still lingering in the American air. Are southern people racist? Do feminists have no sense of humor? Are frat guys drunk misogynists? Do black people use slang? Will an old Jewish couple insist you eat a pastrami sandwich?....thank you I would have gone to my grave NEVER HAVING HAD THESE STEREOTYPES CONFIRMED BY ISOLATED (possibly staged) INCIDENTS!" (cinephilia web site)

Their conclusion is also shared by many writers:

"Sure we're in a crazy war we don't understand. Please check out the last 200 years of this country. I do not believe that the solutions to the problems we have with American culture are to be found in a film that baits people who work all day, lost children, possibly fought in some of those wars, campaigned for birth control, or practice a religious faith that is different from mine. This is not ground-breaking cinema. This is Johnny One-Note playing a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall." (quote from cinephilia again)

Whether or not one laughs isn't the point - there are great comedies out there you can feel VERY guilty for laughing WITH, rather than AT the actors - even when laughing at the protagonist, you also laugh with them. That is some of the work of comedy. Not the Fox-news reduction of the world to stereotypes which if we don't understand can be made fun of, if just to reinforce the stereotypes.

Finally, much has been made of Baron-Cohen's background, practicing orthodox Jew, very conservative, not working on Fridays etc... and that would be wonderful to compare to the rest of the comedy industry, he historically shares heritage with.

It's one thing if Chico Marx in the age of vaudeville, inhabits a stage "type" Italian and plays it up with his bros. in their staged fictional cineama world, its another when he claims to go and represent that country. What was the need exactly to drop the proscenium arch here in Borat? To discover what - real comedy we discover something about the comedian as well, the exchange rate has to be better - much better- than what is in Borat so far.

Arden said...

Thanks for the Cinephilia shout-out!

Like I said in my review, the whole thing... lazy.

Danny-K said...

Damn! This has been a good thread.

Enjoyed reading them ALL. (Pro's and con's - good arguments from both camps).

However, it's another day, another topic beckons; time to move on.

Disgusted in Seattle said...

If your movie is supposed to be a comedy, don't you want to open with the strongest 5-10 minutes you can in order to really grab your audience? So is that 3-5 anti-semitic jokes; more on incest, pedophilia and poverty, and then making every New Yorker on the subway seem like the dysfunctional morons who wrote this movie.

Then to top it off, it looked filmed in 16mm with Super 8mm release prints. We walked out in the subway scene, and across the hall to instead watch Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" - which was excellent. Sorry we inadvertently added to the "Borat" box office numbers. It would be interesting to see what they would be are if you subtract all the walkouts.

mef said...

To answer the title of the post:
Love it. Didn't try to analyze it. I'm sure I could talk myself out of loving it. But it made me laugh. A lot.

Seymour said...

Dear Disgusted in Seattle,
It was SUPPOSED to look grainy and low quality, to simulate the low-tech of the make-believe Kazakstanian TV show. The poor picture quality was part of the joke and the premise. If you couldn't figure even that much out for yourselves, you were probably wise to leave.
I saw it at a fully-packed theater in Los Angeles, and no one walked out. Hope you were able to hear "The Departed" okay over all the loud, raucous laughter coming from the theater you walked out on. Do you often sneak into movies you haven't paid to see? I love the morally-superior tone from someone who admits sneaking into movies they didn't pay to see, thinking themselves justified because they didn't like the one they did pay to see.

Disgusted in Seattle said...

Seymour... I'm sure the granular look WAS part of the joke. We just didn't think it was worth hanging around for. Our choice. I'm not only pretty thick-skinned, but fairly open-minded too and very little offends me.

My thought on walking out was that maybe we'll find this funny somewhere up the road when we watch it on cable to give it a second chance. But for now - in these times, with Israel's right to even exist threatened by illiterates, the movie was in poor taste right out of the box. So... see ya.

And no - we didn't sneak into anything. With the movie just starting, the theatre person said 'no problem' with the switch. We weren't the first.

The Gilded Moose said...

Did anyone else find it boring? I mean, "rednecks hate jews and gays... LOOK!" Who didn't know that already?

The whole time I was thinking this is the really shitty version of The Jerk.

Keller said...

Certainly, there are some things in life you need to see or experience before you comment or judge them.

But there are some things that are made so ubiquitous by marketing and word of mouth that they invite prejudgement. (In fact, marketers want you to prejudge it in a positive sense so you feel good about the money you've spent to see it.)

At this point, I don't think anyone actually has to see BORAT to have an idea what they are probably getting.

Whether one finds it hilarious or not, BORAT is a familiar reality format with a deeply galling psychological twist.

It's been well publicized that some people in the film feel they were duped or tricked into it. There is probably some money-grubbing going on. But there is probably some truth to the claims too. After all, would you want to look like a fool in front of everyone in the world?

Hard to blame someone for saying, without having seen the movie, that they don't want to make a $10 vote of approval to that kind of fun.

Seeing or experiencing may be knowing. But, I'm sure most would agree you don't have to join the Aryan Brotherhood, or even read their literature, to justifiably reject the Aryan Brotherhood.

Anonymous said...

the movie was Great! movies are put on earth to put us in a different frame of mind and that's what this movie does. it's funny and should be take for what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

Borat's humor is lowbrow and mean-spirited. But it appeals to the unintelligent, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

This was the most stupid movie I've ever seen. It just simply was not funny. There is no talent or comedic genius involved whatsoever. If our world has stooped so low to find cutting remarks, racist comments and fat naked guys sucking each other's balls funny - I weep for our future. Save your time and money - this movie's not worth either of them.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the full movie yet and don't plan to, but I saw some scenes of it and know from other satirical shows what kind of "humour" it's supposed to be.

The biggest problem I have with satire today, is how average John Does are tricked and made fun of in a mass medium, where a whole city or nation will point their fingers at them. These victims are often not prepared for the insults that follow, some of them try to get in front of the camera in order to survive and get paid for it because they are already struggling with personal problems. Instead, it results in a mob adding insult to injury.

I'm not saying that I wouldn't laugh at some scenes in this movie and if you say a racist remark and seriously stick to this opinion, then it's your fault if you're being mocked for it, but far too often average, friendly persons who just want to live a simple life or are not what is being perceived as "normal" are being mocked in the mass media by companies with lots of money and lawyers. Some of these victims end up wasting money for therapy while the stars of satire are being glorified, because they were the ones who made one laugh.

I think comedy can be "comfortable without being dead". If you can't make any comedy without taunting someone or embarrassing your own (real) personality, you are mean-spirited and egoistical. Then it's not comedy, but abusing a victim by getting the laughs on your side in order to make yourself more popular. Sure, me, you and everybody else has done that more than one time in his or her life, but if you do it towards a weaker person on the radio or on TV without knowing what other problems he or she has in life it's probably going too far.

Furthermore, a lot of kids and teenagers who see this kind of behaviour and do not know what satire is will make fun of weaker people, because this is the easiest way of getting further in life. It is already like that and it's going to be so in the future. The many mockeries on the Internet of disabled people or otherwise weaker people show it.

I'm not sure if I'm right, but how I see it is that satire in the past was about mocking the upper class, it was the voice of the lower and middle class. Today it seems that the ones in power are practising some kind of eugenics using satire.

"Running Man" is a reality nowadays, just slightly different.

Anonymous said...

I know it's a been a week after this post, but it takes a while for news to come out of Fake Kazazkstan (er, Romania)

It seems there's nobody in the little town Borat filmed in who are happy being portrayed as idiots:
___
Spiridon Ciorbea is portrayed as the local mechanic who performs abortions on the side in the movie. We found him welding a green iron gate. He told us he was paid $70 for his role in the movie and had no idea what his cameo role was in Cohen's fictional road trip. ''Yes, I fix cars and I'm a welder, but I know nothing about abortions. How can I do anything like that with these hands that are full of scars?'' The grandfather of 11 children threatened to attack "Borat," if Cohen came back to face him. "If he does, I will hit him over the head with this hammer.'' With a wide smile, his teeth brimming with gold, he added, 'If a lawsuit goes ahead, I will sue.''

"I was stunned. How could he show my father in such a way?'' asked Ciorbea's son Ion. He too has a message for Cohen: ''If I see Borat, I will kill him with my own hands,'' he said.
---

Funny how the film production company is having the last laugh at the country bumpkins he paid them a pittance and made fools out of them.

Seeing as how Cohen's Jewish, the producers are Jewish... and all the people that were made fun of were horribly lied to and underpaid for what entertainment they did provide ... all of a sudden this business about making fun of Jews for chasing after scraps of money seems... more accurate than comedic.

Anonymous said...

loved every last bit of it

Luke said...

FWIW, as a long-time resident of the South, I think the Borat movie is a disaster for civil discourse in America, whether between Jews and Gentiles, Northerners and Southerners, liberals and conservatives, or the upper and lower classes. Whether realized or not, it is an unbrideled expression of Jewish bigotry (I mean bigotry by Jews) pure and simple, and those who laughed are no better than the sophisticated anti-Semites in Europe who laughed at cartoons of Jews in the 1930's. I'm not kidding. This movie is poison and should be pulled.

Matt Greenwood said...

I absolutely loved it. The only way I could possibly have been disappointed by it was if it didn't hold up in comparison to the TV show, which I think it did.

As for the people who hate both the movie AND the TV show, well some of them plain don't understand satire so they here the word "Jew" and assume it's literal and hateful so judge it from there, or the people who think it's dishonest and in bad taste to mock unsuspecting people who are shown to be racist, homophobic or masogonistic.

But consider who we actually laughed AT. The driving instructor went along with it and the humour came from his reactions to the obscene cultural differences like drinking at the wheel and being amazed that women are allowed to drive.
However, we laugh AT the morons in the van who say horrible things about women, and we laugh AT the man who says Borat should shave his mustache shaved off to avoid looking like a Muslim. And we laugh AT the audience of hicks who cheer when Borat says George Bush should drink the blood of every man woman and child in Iraq.

And to that poster Luke, you very much missed the point of the film. Did you even know that Sacha Baron Cohen is Jewish? If you don't understand irony, don't go and see the film. If you think equally narrow minded people like yourself will take the message of the film the wrong will inspire hate then you're no better than the people who think they should ban "the n-word" to prevent racism.

mandypants said...

I really like the movie borat and all of his shows

I think that he is a funny man and that if people hate him so much and hate the remarks he makes then stop bitching and just dont watch the shows :D

it would solve all the problems then wouldnt it?

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