I should first say that I found the BORAT movie very funny although two hours with Borat were more than enough and I thought it definitely ran out of steam at the end….The Pamela Anderson part of the plot was not funny as what happened on the journey to meet her
Much funnier were the original Borat segments of the THE ALI G SHOW….Ten minute vignettes much more suited the character.
With Sasha Baron Cohen bringing a second character from THE ALI G SHOW, Bruno, to the big screen, I wanted to reflect on what I see as the true meaning of the Borat character and what Sasha Baron Cohen is really trying to criticize.
The school of humor Cohen comes from is the same as that employed in the 70’s sitcom ALL IN THE FAMILY or in some of the late 60’s and 70’s music of Randy Newman or that utilized by Stephen Colbert….That is to say he takes on a role of someone who mouths or otherwise communicates politically incorrect opinions to both force people to explore their own prejudices and also to sort of trick people into giving voice to their own prejudices.
This is an accepted and effective style of satire….However, what Cohen is really trying to express is the issue.
First off, who is Borat the somewhat clueless sort of innocent foreigner with his negative feelings about Jews and the place of women in society?….Is he really from Kazakhstan?....I’ve met a few people from Kazakhstan….They are very Asiatic, I would say Mongol in appearance with very little facial hair….They look absolutely nothing like Borat.
Second, Jewish people have very little history (if any)in Kazakhstan….There is no history of anti-Semitism or persecution because they’ve just never been a presence there.
I believe that Cohen picked Kazakhstan as Borat’s home because it was a country relatively few people in the West had heard of or knew anything about so he could say anything he wanted and get away with it.
I believe he did this because he couldn’t away with attacking his real target by name.
It’s important to mention who Sasha Baron Cohen is….He is from one of England’s most affluent, old money Jewish families….Members of his family were involved in the creation of the state of Israel….Cohen himself is a Zionist.
This being the case, Borat with his droopy mustache, curly hair, generic Mediterranean accent, aversion to women, anti-Semitism IMO is meant to be an Arab….Everything Borat does from the language he uses to his deliberately awful wardrobe to the attitudes he conveys are in keeping with a cartoon caricature of an Arab.
While Cohen can get away with this, one subject he won’t touch is religion….Even if Borat is from Kazakhstan, it makes perfect sense for him to be a Muslim as that is the main religion there….However, Borat studiously avoids any talk of religion although he did imply he was a pagan in one episode and when confronted at a rodeo in the film with the question “are you a Muslim?” said “No”….None of this makes any sense when you consider who this character is supposed to be and it further seems like Cohen is trying to fudge the issue.
I don’t mind humor that is pointed or that chides the negative behaviors of a specific group although I am still waiting for the film or show about the true history of Israel and the mass murder and land theft it still continues to this day….I would also respect Cohen more is if he was honest about his real target.
As I said I do find Borat funny but watching a film made by a Zionist that pokes fun at Arabs and indulges in stereotyping no matter how cleverly it is hidden behind something else is a bit like watching a film from the early part of the last century wherein all the African-American roles are played by white people in black face.