Saturday, November 04, 2006

Borat: Cultural Learnings of American for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

In These Times did a feature on the new Borat movie, Borat: Cultural Learnings of American for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. This thing has been getting more press than Mel Gibson's drunken tirade, which may or may not be a good thing. Still, reviews look good.

This is from the article:
Borat, a citizen of the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan, works as a foreign correspondent for Kazakh television. Despite his clumsiness and limited understanding of English, the self-proclaimed “sixth best journalist in all Kazakhstan” seeks to grasp American culture through interviews and use that knowledge to improve life in his homeland.

But as Borat tries to make sense of American customs, he unveils some intense prejudices. Borat, who first surfaced on Baron Cohen’s popular television program “Da Ali G Show,” is surprised to learn that American women can vote and claims that it is harder to marry in the United States because “you can’t go to her father’s house and swap her for 15 gallons of insecticide.” He is also virulently racist and often asks if gypsies or “chocolate faces” are granted entrance to selective social functions. Borat is best known, however, for his anti-Semitism, which creeps up in virtually every interview. During a segment at a karate class, Borat forces the instructor to teach him tactics he can employ to ward off the dangerous “Jew Claw.”

Although amusing for his slapstick antics, Baron Cohen’s blundering brainchild has a more profound aim. Borat examines how the anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and homophobia of Westerners are perpetuated, often through conformity rather than hatred. It makes sense Baron Cohen, who was raised by a Jewish mother of Iranian descent and a British father in London, would be sensitive to issues of discrimination. As a youth, Baron Cohen joined Habonim Dror, a socialist, Zionist youth organization whose aim is to “upbuild the State of Israel as a progressive, egalitarian, cooperative society, at peace with its neighbors.” He later attended Cambridge University, where he studied history and focused on Jewish and black relations during the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

Read the rest.

Here is the official trailer:

The Zero Boss saw it last night and gave it a good review. Jay's wife, the astute critic Kim Voyner, also has a piece up about Borat.

A more in-depth review is offered by James Rocchi at Cinematical: Review - Borat.

If you, like me, live in a place where this movie hasn't opened yet, here is a "best of" vid of Borat from (I'm guessing) Da Ali G Show.

No comments: