November 1, 2006, - 5:41 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Britain’s Daily Mail says that “Borat” makes fun of an entire country.
But that country isn’t Kazakhstan. It’s America. And it’s not funny.
If you watch TV, read a paper, or listen to talk radio, you’ve likely heard about “Borat,” the fictional anti-Semitic reporter from Kazakhstan, played by pretentious British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. The Borat movie, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” comes out this week. And it’s getting a lot of hype.
I was excited to go see this movie. Borat’s interviews with unwitting politicians and celebrities on his “Da Ali G Show” were funny. But his movie isn’t.
It’s a mean-spirited attack on America . . . Red State America. Yes, there are a few funny scenes. Borat comes to America and meets a group of aging Manhattan feminists. But even that was more mildly amusing than uproariously funny.
Borat falls in love with Pamela Anderson, after seeing her on “Baywatch” in his hotel room. He spends most of the rest of the movie trying to get to California to meet and marry her. I thought I’d find it funny when he finally gets the chance to make fun of the buxom peroxide blonde. But the movie even managed to make me feel something I thought I never would: sympathy for Ms. Anderson.
The movie is full of set-ups in which unknowing Americans were duped by sneaky “Borat” producers and made fun of by Cohen. They all believe he’s a foreign journalist trying to learn about America.
Spoiler alert: If you want to see how Borat takes cheap shots at America, without a preview, stop reading here.
Borat meets with conservative former Congressman Bob Barr and serves him cheese, saying it’s a traditional gift in Kazakhstan. After Barr swallows it, Borat tells him it’s made from his wife’s breast milk. Is that funny? No, it’s just sick. Then, he chooses to describe a gay parade to another conservative, Alan Keyes, and describes how he and a gay from the parade had sex with a plastic fist in a shower. That’s supposed to be funny?
If it’s so funny, why didn’t Cohen & Company pick Ted Kennedy and John Kerry for the breastmilk cheese and graphic gay sex jokes? Well, that’s exactly the point. But for the brief Manhattan feminist club scene, the movie should really be called “Sacha’s Big Fart on Middle America.”
Midwesterners at a rodeo are depicted as anti-Muslim racists, bigots, and dummies. They’re supposed to be the bad ones for booing Borat when he purposely perverts the American National Anthem and says “We support your War OF Terror.”
A Southern Evangelical Church finds a down-and-out-on-his-luck Borat asleep in the sidewalk in front. They take him in and even give him a bus ride on his way to California. Despite their kindness, he ridicules them, showing them speaking in tongues and trying to make them look bad.
Equally disturbing was Borat’s sojourn to a Southern mansion where he is invited to dinner. First, he meets with an etiquette teacher. He shows her a picture of his alleged son. Most of the picture is of the son’s large penis. That’s funny? Maybe, if you’re five or a drunk at the frat house. When he goes to dinner, Borat tells one of the husbands at the dinner table that his wife is ugly. After using the bathroom, he brings a white bag filled with his feces to the dinner table. That’s funny? Where’s the humor?
Ditto for the arrival of the fat, Black prostitute (overflowing out of her skimpy sequined tube top), whom Cohen invites to the home while the dinner is going on. She’s, by the way, the major Black person in the movie (there are brief scene with Keyes and some inner city Black kids). So who’s the racist now, Sacha Cohen?
“Borat” hitches a ride in an RV with some Southern frat boys, who make indefensible anti-Semitic comments. But they’re hardly representative of America, where anti-Semitism is at one of the world’s lowest levels. In Cohen’s own native Britain, anti-Semitism is practically the national theology (second to Islamism). Cohen = Pot. Kettle. “Black.”
It’s no surprise that Daily Mail columnist Baz Bamigboye gives “Borat” a huge thumbs up, since Brits love to hate America. Says he:
I don’t think the film would have been as funny had it been set in Britain because part of the fun is watching gullible Americans being taken in by a daft man from Kazakhstan.
Although we have been taken in by a few Americans lately…just ask Tony Blair.
Much has been made of Borat’s attacks on Jews. But we laugh at those because it’s implicit that comedian Cohen is making fun of the anti-Semite he’s playing. That’s not the problem.
It’s that he celebrates attacking Americans.
The problem is that Cohen–who proudly proclaims that he’s a Jew–has no problem savaging American Christians, Southerners, rodeo fans, and others who are kind and generous to this odd foreigner they believe is truly in need of help.
If that causes anyone be anti-Semitic, I don’t blame them. I blame Sacha Baron Cohen.
And hope he returns to Britain very, very soon. The “Borat” joke’s on you, America.
Tags: Alan Keyes, Ali G Show, America, Bob Barr, Borat, Borat/Sacha Baron Cohen Borat falls, Britain, Brits, California, Cohen & Company, comedian, Da Ali G Show, Daily Mail, Daily Mail columnist, Debbie Schlussel, etiquette teacher, fictional anti-Semitic reporter, foreign journalist, John Kerry, Kazakhstan, Major, Pamela Anderson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Southern Evangelical Church, Southern mansion, Ted Kennedy, The Joke's on You, Tony Blair