Borat: Comedy, Investigative Reporting, or Both?




I don’t think I’ve ever posted three times in one day, but I just saw "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan", and had to blog about it.

First, run, do not walk, to see it.  It is a terrific film.  Second, consider its implications. Film critic Emanuel Levy has written a review of the film and a comment on "The Making of a Mockumentary" that are both worth reading.

Borat is Reality TV on steroids– while some scenes were staged, at least half were not.  From Levy’s commentary  you can get a sense of the "guerrilla" filmmaking tactics that the crew of 8 used.  Apparently they experienced several narrow escapes from angry mobs plus questioning by the Secret Service, FBI, State Troopers and other law enforcement officials who chased after, and at times incarcerated, members of the production team during the making of the film.

It is easy to dismiss the film as a self-deprecating comedy that targets every ethnic group and gets away with being anti-Semitic because it was conceived and executed by Jews.  In my view, Sacha Baron Cohen is a brilliant comedian and social satirist, and the film "Borat", beneath its gross vulgarity, delivers a very depressing message about the intolerance and bigotry that runs deep through American culture toward Jews, gays, racial minorities, and women.

When you are done laughing, Borat’s disturbing message about how some Americans really feel toward "the other" remains with you– and that message is not funny. 

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