Friday, November 17, 2006


Christ, this movie is wrong. Just simply wrong.

I loved it!

This movie really fucked me up. Half the time I was scrunched into my seat averting my eyes. I like to think I'm the posterchild for desensitization but some of the things in this movie were horrifying. I was embarassed for the people on screen but at the same time I couldn't stop laughing. I could barely watch but I just had to see what happened next.

What Sacha Cohen did was...I don't know how to describe it. He shows aspects of American culture, of Western culture really, that I think people like to sweep under the rug. He plays a guy who's supposed to be a backwards savage in a cheap suit. He shows how people react to this guy. People's reactions say the least. Some people show a great deal of patience with Borat. An amazing degree of patience. The car dealer, the driver's education guy, the etiquette coach, the "gypsy" woman. Some...well, okay, the New Yorkers were downright fucking hostile. Borat couldn't even give a simple greeting without someone flipping out. But really, the most interesting cases were the people who tried to be patient but cracked in the end. I'm thinking of the Atlanta dining society. Now, Cohen pushes and pushes people so it's no surprise that they crack but really it's how people react to his pushing. In some cases, a few people are small minded enough to get along with him (the rodeo guy, the frat guys) and some others try to put on this air of tolerance and open-mindedness that are so artificial that they break under the pressure. The dining society fits this perfectly because they were trying too hard to be polite upper crust types. Eventually they just throw him out and call the cops. Crazy.

Now I don't know if Cohen meant it but I think it might have been a bit of a critique of multiculturalism in a way. For all of Borat's shortcomings, and he did have a few, people were far too willing to not just tolerate but in their rush to be nonjudgmental end up silently accepting these things. Again, this mostly comes from watching the dining society bit but I think if they just stopped and said, "Hey, guy, that shit is fucked up," they would have saved themselves a headache. In fact not a whole lotta people called Borat on his bullshit seemingly using his "otherness" as an excuse for nonconfrontation. I'm probably just reading too much into it, but seeing as how Sacha Cohen did go to some fancy pants university I wouldn't put it past him.

Now, the movie does actually degenerate halfway through. It becomes less less about fucking with people's heads and more about fucking people up. The bit where Borat and his producer run naked through the hotel was pretty gratuitous. Funniest most fucked up thing I've ever seen but gratuitous all the same. Also, the overarching plot that connects everything together is pretty stupid. Pamela Anderson? Well, no matter.

Oh, now speaking of Pamela there's one thing in this movie that had me thinking that it was surely staged. Okay, spoilers ahead. Now, when Borat finally gets to California to meet Pamela at a book signing, he has a "traditional Kazakhi marriage sack" made. Okay, so his idea is to go up to Pamela and present this to her and take her as his wife. Well, when she turns him down he throws it over her head and he tries making off with her. Okay, now this shit has gotta be set up, cause I think Pamela has enough fans to warrant serious security and enough fans that would rip a guy apart for trying that sorta shit in front of them. Really, I think Cohen would have been hospitalized had he actually did that without telling anyone ahead of time. Also, Pam's pointless running around the parking lot was kind of a dead giveaway. Run to a cop, run to your car, don't run around like a damn fool just within camera range. Now of course there were other scripted elements. Every time Borat was alone with his producer, obviously. But I do wonder where else in the movie this was the case. The bit with the Jewish bed and breakfast is suspect.

Overall, I would highly recommend this movie. All the controversy surrounding it is, I think, entirely under-rated. This movie is way more fucked up then some reviews have made it out to be. Offensive, juvenile, lowest common denominator but yet probably one of the most subversively intelligent things I've ever seen.

Can't wait for the DVD.


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