Offensive "Borat" Addresses Stereotypes, Reveals Prejudices
- Thursday, March 08, 2007
At a yard sale, Borat insists a shopper is a gypsy, to her face. He buys a gun, after explaining that he wants to kill Jews (no questions asked). He hangs out on Martin Luther King Drive late at night, where he learns to dress and talk like a rapper, before entering a luxury hotel with his pants around his hips. And, he visits a rodeo in Virginia, where a man shares that he believes that homosexuals should all be hanged. There, Borat is invited to sing the national anthem. Instead, he sings his own national anthem, to the tune of ours – and is almost killed in the process (despite its silly lyrics):
"Kazakhstan greatest country in the world.
All other countries are run by little girls.
Kazakhstan number one exporter of potassium.
Other countries have inferior potassium."
One particularly disturbing scene occurs when Borat goes to a church and pretends to find “Mr. Jesus.” On the one hand, it’s shocking to see churchgoers stepping over him on their way into the church, as Borat sleeps, propped up against the front door. On the other hand, once inside, the worshippers appear very sincere, and they not only welcome the desperate Borat as few others have, but they also share the gospel with him, in a very clear way. But after Borat claims that he’s saved, begins to cry and falls onto the floor, supposedly slain in the Spirit, you can’t help but shake your head at his audacity.
Not surprisingly, “Borat” has infuriated Kazakhstan and its president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev. The Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington has denounced it and, after the film’s theatrical release, Kazakhstan began running television and newspaper ads about their country. The Romanian government has also protested, saying that they were tricked into allowing the footage.
The hype surrounding “Borat” has been non-stop, with the film exploding out of the box office and even garnering an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay. Is it the best comedy of the year? Maybe, but that’s not saying very much. Is it funny? Yes, especially, when Cohen steers clear of the vulgarity – but that isn’t often. Of course, there were times when I laughed despite myself, simply because it was so shocking. Sad but true. I wouldn’t want to see it again, however.
“Borat” is a new genre of comedy that is certain to provoke copycats, but which won’t be appreciated by everyone. The main problem is that the film is so gratuitously vulgar. Many Christians will be extremely offended, in fact. Of course, Cohen intends to offend, in order to reveal our deepest prejudices – something he definitely accomplishes. The film also has a strong message about stereotypes and the subtle racism that still exists in our country. That’s a good thing. But to get there, we have to wade through a lot of nudity, foul language, scatology and crude humor – in addition to an extended scene that makes fun of the faith. For most, that’s not worth the price of this rental.
AUDIENCE: Adults only
- Five extended/deleted scenes
- Deleted footage montage featuring never-before-seen clips
- Publicity Tour Montage including appearances at The Toronto International Film Festival, Cannes, Comic-Con and others
- Drugs/Alcohol: Multiple uses of alcohol throughout film, including several scenes where people are extremely drunk.
- Language/Profanity: Extreme, including several dozen uses of f- and other strong obscenities and profanities, as well as crude slang and multiple uses of racist terms (including n-).
- Sexual Content/Nudity: Extreme (although genitals are mostly obscured). Numerous vulgar references to sex, anal sex, and even sex with animals. Several scenes where the main characters masturbate.
- Violence: Men fight in the nude and various physical comedy situations, including gratuitous destruction of property; man attempts to abduct woman and is attacked by security guards; multiple references to and shots of guns; rodeo accident in which horse and rider fall.
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