Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Life and Death of Borat Sagdiyev

"There used to be a real me, but I had it surgically removed."
Peter Sellers

Borat: The Cultural Learnings of America for Make Use of Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

It's all in the name.

Let's break it down.

Borat is Sacha Baron Cohen And Sacha Baron Cohen Is Borat. He is also Bruno, Jean Girard (Taladega Nights is rescued by his performance, despite inept acting by John C Reilly And Will Farell) and last but not least the Infamous ALI G. He made a name for himself in the Uk through this last character and now he is assaulting "the US and A" as Borat Sagdiyev, Kazakstani reporter.
Cohen is a very rare sight: a Cambridge Educated Jewish British Comedian that rivals Peter Sellers in Character Immersion. He does not play Borat Sagdiyev, he becomes Borat Sagdiyev, he IS Borat. Out on a rampage. Assaulting the likes of Linda Stein or Alan Keyes (" a real chocolate-face, no make-up!"), and creating a special blend of humour: sarcasm, faux-naivite and toilet jokes working together as one.

The Cultural Teachings Of America.

The Purpose of Comedy is to make you laugh. And with Borat you are guaranteed to laugh. However one man's humour is often another's temple. Such is the case with this movie, Borat slowly unravelling the web of dreams and wishful thinking surrounding America. Because Borat is on a Quest. To discover "Deep America" ( And marry/kidnap/rape Pamela Anderson). Borat's humour come s in many shapes and sizes, from nude wrestling a fat guy in various homophobia-inducing positions to chasing people around New York just to try and say hello. But the Funniest moments in the entire movie stem from the fundamental difference, the Huntingtonial Clash of Civilisations. When Borat gets a solid round of applause after saying "I hope President Bush drinks the blood of every man, woman, and child in Iraq!" but is booed off after messing up the Anthem at a Rodeo, you start to laugh but you also start to wonder. Sure, stuff like "Jagshemash! My name a Borat. I like you. I like sex, it's nice. These are my country of a Kazakhstan." is fun but when Borat goes to the "shit-hole" in the middle of a formal Southern Style Dinner, and is complimented ad absentia as "a very nice man" who can "very easily be turned into a real american", only to return with a bag of shit moments later, that my friends is beyond toilet humour, going into those gray areas that show how, despite the technological gap and cultural differences, we humans are all alike. America is deconstructed and its "cultural teachings" of jingoism, xenophobia, homophobia and its pretended superiority are revealed for what they are. Borat is simply the magnifying glass, "distorting the image" so that we can see
it in all its glory.

For make Benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan.

The great nation of Kazakhstan insists that Borat Be banned, not realising that they are causing more damage to their image than the Mock-kazakh, Borat is. They shut down his site and the media howled, they deliberately countered him with statements as bland and idiotic as "Kazakhstan does not export Potassium, we export oil", causing greater publicity for him
and a media disaster for the country. Meanwhile the Kazakhstan we know and love is closer than we thought. It is in Romania. The Gypsies and the "pizda ma-tii" gave it up. But are we so in denial as to simply say "oh that's not Romania", just as Kazakhstan did. Brush up on your Crimele de la ora 5 and feel the pain.

This movie is disgusting, inept and gut-popping fun. And, yes, that translates as a must-see.
Borat lives on as a living testament that every man has his skeletons, as does every nation. His in-depth character study and his shell of coarse naivite brush off the thin layer of politically-correct varnish off anybody revealing the strong beliefs underneath: the anti-semitism, xenophobia and intollerance in us all. And just as the world remembers Clouseau and not Sellers, they will talk about Borat long After Cohen is Forgotten.

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