Borat – orientalist satire to make a glorious Western Intelligentsiya debate

"Dzienkuje" Sacha Baró Cohen!

We were waiting for Godot, but you heard what we really needed and, instead, you sent us Borat! And Borat is if it's not a mobile party and a gift that he continues to give. At the same time, he was able to offend the Kazakhs, frighten Jewish anti-defamation groups, outraged the monitors of Orientalism, remove Americans from hypocrite skin, provoke laughter to the generations of Beavis and Butthead, Southpark and Archie Bunker, and finally, however , of course, no less important – offers a glorious opportunity for western intellectuals to criticize and debate the merit, meaning and interpretation of masterpieces of celluloid. Finally, thanks to you, we can now confirm that rumors of the death of Yakov Smirnov and # 39; They were very exaggerated. It turns out that he's doing well and doing well, after having found work in the big American city called Branson, Missouri ("Hours great … auditorium, career and less-filled pockets … but what country!" … well, bad example)! Slama dunk, emission achieved, and hiyya-fiyva, to you Sacha!

Talk about a movie that caused cinemakers to be bombarded, even before they checked the hours of the movie, with indications and conflicting instructions of cultural elites, designers and peers of reference:

1) Go to the movie. Rio, have fun!

2) If you go to the movie, do not laugh!

3) Go to the movie, laugh, but then I'm outraged!

4) Do not go to the movie, partly because you could laugh!

5) If you go there, something goes wrong.

6) If you do not go there, there is something wrong with you.

Borat!: Cultural Learningings of America for Make Benefit The Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan can not help, but I do not leave the impression that we may have become an over-programmed culture with too much script.

This article tries to address some of the greatest controversies and ramifications derived from the character Borat and Borat! the movie (from here on Borat!). He does this by touching some of the broad criticisms, publishing options and online publications that the film has generated. An admission and a type of resignation on the film seems in order before beginning: I went … I laughed … I cried … (but because I laughed, not because I went).

It's to make fun of Kazakh people! … NO !!!

Let's start with a question that has consumed so many keys in recent months. In part, we can do it because the intention of Sacha Baron Cohen (that is, from the point of view of production / supply) is much simpler than the question of how it is or has been interpreted and used The film on the part of the public (that is, on the side of consumption / demand).

Shortly after the American launch of Borat! An interview with Sacha Baron Cohen appeared at the Rolling Stone edition on November 14, 2006. It is clear that a lot of people do not know about the interview, have not read it, or do not want it , because the Internet is the debate about who satirized Baron Cohen in the movie. While there may be, they are and there will be many interpretations of who is harmful due to Borat! (more information below), the comments of Baron Cohen & # 39; Interviewer Neil Strauss really eliminates much of the speculation that Baron Cohen intends to make the film. That Baron Cohen would have noticed too late that there was a real value and the power to keep the mother about his intentions with Borat is possible when you consider that, according to Strauss, Baron Cohen was disturbed enough by the meeting that Strauss called a week after the interview to speak.

Here is what Cohen Baron said, although he probably did not win, he would have to diminish speculation about his motivations in favor of Borat! Baron Cohen reacted to the news that the Kazakh government was thinking of suing him and published a full-page ad that promoted the country to the New York Times (they finally did):

I was surprised, because I always had faith in the public who will realize that it was a fictional country and its sole purpose was to allow people to bring their own prejudices. And the reason why we chose Kazakhstan was because it was a country that nobody had heard about, so we could play basically with the stereotypes that could have on this former Soviet rear. The joke is not going to Kazakhstan. I think the joke is about people who can believe that the Kazakhstan that I describe may exist, who believe that there is a country where homosexuals wear blue hats and women live in cages and drink fermented horse urine and the age of consent It has been raised until the age of nine.

In this way, much of the debate about the intentions of Cohen & # 39; s. These are Borat interviews for people, in the American film, and not for Kazakhs and Kazakhs. The film is intended to be American.

Certainly this was what pulled the movie Ryan Gilbey from the left-wing weekly of London, New Statesman. An article introduced as "Sacha Baron Cohen's American crass show" and "Kazakh journalist reveals uncomfortable truths about the US" summarized the film as follows:

Borat's violence in the New York subway after trying to greet the strangers with kisses is really frightening. There is an aging cow that only requires the possibility of supporting the murder of gays and Muslims. Others are accused so much they do not say or what they do. A multitude of wheels does not show any kind of fulfillment to encourage Borat's borate speech on Iraq, without realizing clearly that what he said was actually: "We support your war of terror!" And it is impressive to bear witness to the tacit acceptance with which Borat's borate requests are welcomed. Trying to find the ideal car to seal gypsies or seek the best weapon to kill Jews, only finds compliance among sellers of America. It seems that the client is always right, even when he has the extreme right.

An April 2003 article by Lucy Kelaart in the British newspaper The Guardian suggests that some Kazakhs, at least those with a certain exposure to the West, have understood Borat until then (according to their British television visits to the United States). Most interview topics by Kelaart & # 39; Almaty's streets did not have fun, instead of being really offended and they thought Borat was simply stupid:

Ainura, 25, spent a year living in the United States. He thinks Borat is giving Kazakhstan a bad name. "Borat does not make fun of the Kazakhs, he makes fun of Americans," he says. "They are credible. You have not said any of them, and in any way, this can not be true." The program describes an American stereotype, not a Kazakh. # American attitude toward foreigners: strong accents, strong voices, stupidity, male-chauvinism. "

Of course, as I said before and we will see, the intentions of Baron Cohen & # 39; It was all the criticisms of this article would be much shorter than it is. Especially in the period of postmodern criticism, the audience and any real or potential sub-audience take center stage.

The "complete" Sacha Baron Cohen: Beyond Borat

What less American than see Borat! Consider in ethnocentric terms that we are the main objective of Baron Cohen & # 39; In his work, it is instructive to look at the "complete" Sacha Baró Cohen or, at most, a wide range of characters that he has played on television and in the movies. .

In the other signing role of Baron Cohen in Hollywood movies in 2006, he played the role and antagonist of Will Ferrell & # 39; to the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. The character of Baron Cohen & # 39; Jean Girard is a French pilot of "Formula One" that takes the NASCAR circuit by storm. It is a march of achievement that some could say of the "fried of freedom", American stereotype of "franc (frit)" (franc): a snob, effet, espresso gossip, opera escort, L & # 39 ; Etranger reading (adding insult to the injuries while driving!), a homosexual sponsored by Perrier (his long-time partner played by Conan O & # 39; Brien's lead partner Andy Richter) .

It is difficult to see this as a role in which Baron Cohen exploits the American public in some way, unless interpreting a stereotype destined to be the highest offensive, in a certain sense condescending to that public and his intelligence . Rather, his role as Jean Girard seems to be an English par excellence (at Benny Hill) and, in that sense, gives light to Borat, as we learn from his interview with Rolling Stone that Baron Cohen grew idolizing to Peters Sellers and loved Sellers & # 39; famous French stereotype, inspector Jacques Clouseau:

The future of Baron Cohen was established when he was about eight years old for two significant events. The first was to see one of Peter Sellers & # 39; The Pink Panther films at the ninth birthday of a friend, which is a lifetime admiration of the British comic book and # 39; The other was when his older brothers snatched him into a theater to see Monty Python & # 39; s the life of Brian.

Certainly, the most famous character of Baron Cohen and whose success was probably responsible for Borat having a long-term opportunity – is the false rapper "gangsta" Ali G. In fact, it is Instructions to keep in mind that in the first feature film of Ali G. & # 39; In 2001, Ali G. Indahouse, instead of an epic quest for Pamela Anderson, Ali G. pursues the supermodel Naomi Campbell. Much of the criticisms of "Ali G." It sounds, in fact, remarkably familiar when we see complaints about the insensitivity of Baron Cohen and # 39; s to Kazakhs. In the United Kingdom, Ali G. precipitated comments like that of Felix Dexter, a comic book of a British television series. It replaces "Kazakhs" with the "black street culture" and we could get a characterization similar to what we see after Borat!: "But a lot of humor makes laughing at the black street culture and is celebrating because it allows liberal middle classes to laugh at that culture in a context where they retain their sense of political correction ".

Tell the Kazakhs! … However, why exactly Kazakhstan?

Borat's ancestor and prototype was the character of a Moldovan television reporter, Alexi Krickler, who Cohen played in the mid-1990s on British television. According to Cohen, this character was based on a doctor who met in a free beach getaway in Astrakhan, in the south of Russia: "… there was a guy who was a doctor and, at the time I met him, I went I started laughing … I had some Borat elements, but I did not have any racism, misogynist or anti-Semitism. In fact, it was a Jew. "

This is revealing in that personal characteristics are separated from the visions it attributes to their artistic creation, something that some might complain is the essence of the stereotyped.

It was like Alexi Krickler that Baron Cohen collided with what Strauss called "a tiny epiphany that would end up feeding the Baron Cohen's career # 39;"

For example, when someone interviewed the British Lions British team, he would return and return with the interviewee for ten minutes, apparently unable to understand that they do not have real lions playing rugby. "I was shocked by the patience of some of the high class members who were so willing to look polite, especially in a camera, that they would never get out," says Baron Cohen.
Of course, there was a difference that may have been evident over the years … at least to Borat !: Originally, Baron Cohen concentrated a lot on the truly powerful, whether celebrities or those with money and power, but Borat! He clearly began to slip towards "extreming the gang of" more average citizens. Maybe it's where he goes "cross the line".

Greetings from "Post (card) -Commiestan"

Borat of Borat! He still had to have several incarnations of Alexi Krickler at Borat Sagdiyev today. After Alexi Krickler came an Albanian television journalist named Kristo. Only later became the "barred" of Baron Cohen & # 39; s: first as Borat Karabzhanov, later as Borat Dutbayev, and finally in 2003 as Borat Sagdiyev. This is perhaps important because it suggests that, although Sacha Baron Cohen and Kazakhstan have become inseparably intertwined, Borat & # 39; Kazakhness was almost incidental. Here, inevitably, an intent is wrong, sometimes it is convenient to read in retrospective analyzes: Bram Stoker & # 39; Dracula is currently inextricably associated with Romania, but apparently, Dracula began Stoker's imagination as "Count Wampyr" in Styria (Austria)) and only later (as Borat) migrated to the head in Transylvania

However, Moldova, Albania and Kazakhstan have a clear and common theme: they are part of the post-communist world of Eastern Europe and of the former Soviet Union. And it is worth remembering here the comments of Baron Cohen & # 39; mentioned above: "And the reason why we chose Kazakhstan was because it was a country that nobody had heard about, so we could basically play stereotypes that may be in this respect. The former Soviet ex-president" . That is, a generic place (card) -Commystan of type.

Baron Cohen has not commented specifically on why Krickler had to leave Moldova and change his name and why his television reporter is always in the post-communist world, but we can speculate. In this way, Bram Stoker has not changed a lot since the time of Bram Stoker, the need to find an environment both exotic and at the same time familiar, to act as a propitious one, but not to distract from the underlying objective of the artform. We wonder to what extent the Borat migration & # 39; s from Moldova to Albania to Kazakhstan was granted directly or indirectly for events in the real world: Albania surely lost part of the "unknown" character that is key to this argumental device, due to heavier news coverage. enveloping Kosovo in the late 90s (perhaps it is a witness to the Wag the Dog film). The distance, of course, facilitates parody (witness the famous song Weird Al Yankovic and video parody "Amish Paradise", talk about a disjointed community that is unlikely to bother!) But only to a point: Go to the young man! … but not too far in the world, because it makes you unrecognizable and your audience can not relate and the power of satire is lost.

Molvania, Romanova and Kreplakistan … Oh My!

This still leaves a key question unanswered: why has Baron Cohen sought out that his mock reporter came from real places … even though he was described fictionally? Yes, as Baron Cohen suggests, Borat is not a real Kazakhstan, but a fictional Kazakh man so absurd that "the joke lies with people who can believe that Kazakhstan can describe it", why choose a country name real to start. with? As a reflection of separation, the claim of independence and the micro-state phenomena of the region during the post-communist era have seen an explosion of "really imagined communities" in recent years in the form of fictitious countries to the post-communist space.

According to John Tierney, he said in a New York Times, "I would like Cohen to have invented a country like Molvania," instead of Borat coming from Kazakhstan. Molvania is, of course, the well-known fiction land of the Jetlag Travel Guide (Molvania: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry), described as "somewhere in northern Bulgaria and below Chernobyl." (Despite the name of a fictional country, the stipulated location and its characteristics, its three Australian authors maintain that it was not modeled in Moldova or Romania, but was inspired by trips to Portugal.) Among many other things, Molvania is the home of Europe & # 39; It is the oldest nuclear reactor, and according to one of its authors, "It is a very beautiful country now that the levels of radiation have fallen to acceptable standards."

Unsafe nuclear power stations, environmental degradation and genetic mutation are also the fist of Ben Stiller & # 39; s Dodgeball comedy in 2004, which is presented to Fran Stalinofskivichdavidovitchsky of Romanova: "In his native country of Romanova, Dodgeball is the national sport and his nuclear power station won the championship five consecutive years, which makes the deadliest woman on Earth with an elusive. "

Then there's Mike Myers & # 39; Creation of Kreakistan in the Austin Powers series: Kreakistan is an old Soviet republic apparently unable to protect its nuclear fires and in a state of perpetual chaos (as CNN clashes of people who convey to us are mocking). There is speculation about Wikipedia that Kreakistan "is probably based on the true Autonomous Socialist Republic of Karakalpak, now the Republic of Karakalpakstan." More convincing, however, is the idea that "kreplak" inspires "kreplach, a Jewish dish from Eastern Europe consisting of meatballs full of flesh".

But, is to invent a country the solution to problems of stereotypes and negative prejudices? If the Internet is an indication: apparently not. Molvania contributes a strong criticism on the part of those who see it as another variation of the orientalist (neo) theme. There are angry allegations, especially from the photos that authors use in the book and on the Molvania website, since, while they play the role of fictional millers, they are really real people. The critics in Molvania have not only been sent to the monitors of Orientalism. In similar comments to Kazakh officials about Borat, in 2004, Britain's former British minister Keith Vaz criticized the book because "it reflects some of the roaring prejudices (in Europe) … The sad thing is that some of them people may actually believe that there is this country. "Ironically, too, the option of a fictitious" country "can be interpreted as even more insulting because it treats people from a whole region or group as a" they "essentially undifferentiated. I can not separate them, they all look alike … "

Borat, class and urbanity

The parallel drawn by John Tierney between Borat! And Molvania is, of course, natural and, therefore, one that has made many, especially on the Internet. Especially when stories about the way Borat & # 39; s scoffed at the "Kazakh" hometown of the film was filmed in a gypsy poor (Romanian) village of Romania – where the villagers received as a payment for their work the "pig party" and, While presumably, Sacha Baró Cohen spent the night at the refuge of the abducted mountain of Sinaia – the subject of the class entered the discussion about Borat! It is difficult to not reach the conclusion that the subject of the class can make the movie more attractive because it is portrayed as a "safe cultural environment". That is, poverty becomes broadly fun when portrayed by relatively unknown or culturally unprotected culture … whether it be Kazakhs or "trash trailers" in "America" ​​in red.

The Polish author of the blog "Beatroot" captured this well in a publication of Molvania's book titled: "Why is it that the only liberals think it is not good to laugh at them? days? the white working class and the central and eastern Europeans? "

Europe & # 39; s & # 39; white trash & # 39;

… There is something strange in the West. If you had written this type of books about African people, let's say, rightly so, there would be a hassle and an outrage. Words like racism & # 39; It would have been used by liberal left reviewers. But it seems that political correction currently extends to all groups, except for the poor targets of urban, rural or rural areas of America and Europe.

In fact, I would venture to speculate that the villagers had Borat! Presented as gypsies or "gypsies", rather than as fictional Kazakhs, there could be greater indignation over this, precisely because of the hierarchy of officially recognized discrimination that prevails in the cultural and political circles of the West. Being presented as relatively unknown Kazakhs, however, made "easier" laugh freely. If the English tabloid media had not been interested in the town of Glod (which means "clay!") And show the clips of the movie to the villagers, it is possible that these fictional Kazakhs would have been so discouraged as the familiar Amish. Weird Al Yankovic: According to journalists, "not a single villager with whom we have ever spoken could have allowed a trip to the nearest cinema, 20 kilometers."

Clay that is cooked in the sun or when things will be placed: uses of borate

It is well known that the finished cultural products can turn into intermediate inputs or be reprocessed by the things that their creators could never have dreamed and may even disagree. A few years ago, I remember seeing a television report in an important US metropolitan area where real estate agents were investigated to use the "Archie Bunker" shortcut to describe customers with discriminatory tastes, & # 39; thinking that, through this language, they were left in some way within the limits of equality of opportunity regulations. In the same way, US troops in Iraq have described the incorporation of the satirical jingoistic ballad "America, ** ck yes!" of Team America: World Police in their missions. So it has been with Borat. This is undoubtedly the complaint of Jewish anti-defamation groups: it does not matter that Baron Cohen is a Jew and seeks to highlight anti-Semitic prejudices, if his audience laughed, more than not, with Borat i # 39; s anti-Semitism

The London tabloid The Sun, well-known for his "deceit" about immigration, and some would argue his action against racist and xenophobic attitudes, sought his field of work to do away with Borat! in the context of the debate on immigration in relation to the entry of Romania and Bulgaria & # 39; to the European Union on January 1, 2007. The article is pleased to cite Gheorghiu Pascu, 46, saying that "Borat is a son of a bitch, who made us look wild. This is Transylvania, the Dracula's home. If he ever comes back, we will stick a stake to his back and we will prevent him. Then he would cut the b ***s. "Two weeks later, under the title that spread" We left Romania "was an image of villagers in carts drawn by horses with the figure "Horse and cart … The Rumanians are heading towards a better life, slowly." The article cites a villain saying that "people will simply avoid restrictions working on the black market or working for their own account" and ends with another commitment, "Borat should have an account. Soon it may reach some of us in London . "

American stereotype … Now that you reach a theater near you:
Incorrect reception of the United States, its incorrect rights and its incorrect rights

Borat! It is full of what we could call "nesting Westernisms" or "nesting anti-Americanisms": that is, it creates and plays with foreign and domestic hierarchies of Americans, good, bad and mild. Chris Jones focused on the guidance and nostalgia of Baron Cohen and # 39; Itinerary of the film as follows:

… Borat starts his American walk in New York, the land of the cold and the far, where the only communication is epithet. He then heads to the South, the land of multifaceted and idiocy, where local gothic artists have not changed their vision since Scarlett O & # 39; Hara He turns to Texas, where the dried fruits garnished with cowboy hats chew their lips in each corner. And after a short trip to the ghetto, where each street is called "Martin Luther King Blvd." – It ends in Southern California, where the breasts are surgically enhanced in each swimwear.

In other words, Baron Cohen traveled the way so often visited by the European attractions park of American stereotypes (and some of us would have to believe that only Americans see the world as an extension of Disneyland! ) "Otherwise", it turns out, it does not recognize the class struggle or the political correction.

Baron Cohen, certainly, is taken seriously, or at least wants to portray himself. Therefore, it should not surprise anyone that the Americans who get the best out of the movie are a Jewish religious age couple, who religiously watches, who runs bed and breakfast and an African American callgirl. be an actress):

I think that part of the film shows the absurdity of having any form of racial prejudice, be it the hatred of African Americans or Jews … Borat essentially works as a tool. Being the same anti-Semitic, let people lower their guard and expose their own prejudice, whether anti-Semitism or the acceptance of anti-Semitism …. I remember when I was in college I studied history. And there was this important historian of the Third Reich, Ian Kershaw. And his appointment was: "The road to Auschwitz was paved with indifference." I know it's not very funny to be a comic book about the Holocaust, but I think it's an interesting idea that not everyone in Germany should be a scary anti-Semitic. They only had to be apathetic.

But, is it really what we are talking about with the ugly Americans that Baron Cohen is in Borat! On the one hand, Chris Jones raises a good question: Baron Cohen had to "cross the lake" to find such disturbing stereotypes?

Since it seems that Cohen is the best paying comic in Britain, and because it is considered radical, here is the movie that should now be done. We see that Borat does some cultural learning in his own world of smuggling. It would not be difficult for him to speak a racist to a pub in London. He could go to any British football game and find a cacophony of anti-gay attacks. Get an Irishman on the street talking about immigrants from Eastern Europe and someone will set a foot. Borat could spend time with French gothic of the Dordogne. Could you teach us about how Europe has integrated (or not) its Muslim citizens? Do not have hookers in Hamburg? Let's see if they welcome your best German party.

As Andrew Mueller points out on the film: "What surprises all Americans he finds is not his ingenuity, but his politude, hospitality and the extraordinary degree in which Borat must cause situations to provoke If you had tried these old ones in many other countries, taking dinner at dinner and spreading the national anthem to a rodeo audience, he would have carried out the advertising campaign.

He would argue that Baron Cohen to some extent misrepresents the reactions he "exposes." What he sees with the majority of Americans that he captures on tape is the same as "high class English … so keen to seem educated by the camera"? I do not think so. The reservation, the failure to act, the consensual behavior of the Americans Baron Cohen fulfills, arguing, is born from the desire not to offend the guest, however strange, to not speak or ask questions because they do not show a # 39; s ignorance After all, we are saying that the greatest step that can be done on the day and age globalized in the news is nowadays and the globalized age, and mock or express the ignorance of our interlocutor culture. Do not hear judgments, just play together, keep up well …

This is the American socio-cultural laissez-faire – also known as North American ocentism – in the best and worst case, a world where individual privacy can reach absurd proportions, whether it is asked a neighbor about your salary as the value of your home. or not interfere with the neighbor on the side, although it may be possible to doubt the noises that are felt at night as indications of physical or mental abuse. In fact, Borat's very American counterattack! can be seen in the final episode of the long-running comedy series Seinfeld, where the four main characters are tried in courts for not having complied with a recently approved law "Bon Samaritano" and help a man in a situation of # 39, anguish, who was fun instead. Due to its weight: a tribute, destined or not, to the American autocentrism.

Is it safe? … is it safe?

"Is it safe? … Is it safe?" It is nothing more than something that the dentist feels. És el pensament que travessa les ments de les persones abans, mentre o després de riure al nostre món postmodern. Potser la lliçó aquí, però, és no prendre-nos-ho massa en serio.

Els nord-americans haurien d’estar agraïts per una pel·lícula: fa un mirall i ens explica com alguns de la resta del món ens veuen. Com s'ha dit sovint, en el passat molts que no els van agradar als Estats Units tenien una visió compartimentada que separava la política exterior dels Estats Units amb la gent; cada cop més enquestes d’opinió pública estrangera suggereixen que els estrangers ja no distingeixen aquesta distinció (tot i que pot ser que les percepcions de la primera afectin negativament les segones). Ens agradi o no, el baró Cohen ha aprofundit eficaçment en les percepcions estrangeres dels Estats Units i ha trobat prou nord-americans per interpretar de manera brillant els lleus estereotips que esperava d’ells.

D'altra banda, sí, Virgínia, és segur fer riure de Borat. Andrew Mueller explica per què:

La raó per la qual Borat és un espant tan alliberador és que Baron-Cohen entén que res no és més divertit que allò que no ens haurem de riure, i, a principis del segle XXI, la pressió sobre nosaltres de no riure a l’endarreriment i l’estupidesa dels estrangers ha estat considerable. Es preveu que ens prenguem seriosament persones que volen executar dibuixants per dibuixar, i dones de pedra per tenir relacions sexuals, cap de les quals, com a idees, no és més que el costum kazakh, descrit per Borat, d’obligar les persones homosexuals a portar barrets blaus.

Tampoc hauríem de plorar massa pel Kazakhstan (Moscou, certament, no ho fa). Com un pòster en un lloc web que debatia sobre si Borat és bona o mala publicitat per a Kazakhstan, afirmava: "Sense Borat, el Kazakhstan és només una altra obscura república de l'Àsia central". Un altre apuntat, Borat és retratat com a "ingenu, però no és cruel ni dolent". Altres suggereixen que els kazakhs podrien treure un veritable cop d'estat si ara utilitzessin el personatge Borat en una pel·lícula per comercialitzar "el veritable Kazakhstan". El professor Sean Roberts assenyala que, segons GoogleTrends, Borat va més que doblar els èxits habituals de Google al Kazakhstan i # 39; durant el lideratge i l’alçada de la campanya de PR de la pel·lícula Borat.

L'únic que queda és l'últim dispositiu argumental perquè el baró Cohen assassini Borat, de manera que ningú no estigui molest. Una modesta proposta: què passa amb un gir de traça semblant a "Dallas" amb "Qui va disparar a Borat?" Eren els nord-americans, els kazakhs, els vilatans de Glod? … Per què va ser el mateix baró Cohen