November 20, 2006, - 10:57 am

In the Name of “Borat”: The Lives & Businesses Ruined by Sacha Baron Cohen

By Debbie Schlussel
While pretentious British comedian (and friend of Madonna) Sacha Baron Cohen is making millions off the “Borat” “film,” those innocent, good-hearted Americans he tricked into being in his movie aren’t faring so well.
The success of “Borat” has spurred a bidding war on his future movies, and he’s raking up. But then there are people like Jim Sell, Dharma Arthur, and Joe Behar–all taken advantage of and paid a pittance to be the butt of Cohen’s “jokes.” The November 27th issue of People details what happened to the innocents you see in the highly over-rated movie:

* Jim Sell–A car salesman at Criswell Automotive in Gaithersburg, Maryland, he used to sell 35-40 cars a month. But after Borat wasted hours of his time, Sell isn’t selling because he’s become the butt of a national joke. He says he’s only sold 3 cars in the last month.

boratmovieposter.jpg

* Dharma Arthur–The producer, er . . . EX-producer, at WAPT-TV, in Jackson, Mississippi, lost her job after booking Borat for an interview on her newscast, believing he was a legitimate foreign journalist. She wrote to Newsweek:

Because of him, by boss lost faith in [me]. A man who [causes] so much harm . . . is lauded as a comedic genius.

* Joe Behar–With his wife, he owns the Four Seasons Kosher Bed & Breakfast in Newton, Massachusetts, at which Borat stays before running out in disgust at “the Jewish cockroaches.” Now, people think the B&B has cockroaches and don’t want to stay there. The cockroaches (“Jewish spies”) were superimposed onto the film through special effects.
* The people of Glod, Romania–They’re not happy either. They had to play Kazakhs in the humiliating beginning of this silly movie, but were only paid a few dollars each. They, too, feel taken advantage of by multi-millionaire scammer Sacha Baron Cohen.
* Civil War antique shop owners–”Borat” deliberately smashes $400 worth of their wares, and doesn’t pay them back for about half of it. These are clearly not rich people. There’s hardly a run on Civil War antiques.

Now that he is rolling in dough off the backs of these good people, what will Sacha Baron Cohen do to restore the lives of those he ruined? What will he do to get Ms. Arthur her job back? Or Jim Sell and Joe Behar their lost business and reputations back?
Absolutely nothing. He’s rich, and the joke’s on them and you. “How Borat Screws America” would have been a far more apropos title for this movie.

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12 Responses

I’m not sure if all of those are from people, but if they are at least of them are not true. Last I heard, the B&B people were quoted as thinking that “Borat” was a nice fellow, just confused, and that they harbored no hard feelings. Also, the antique shop owner WAS paid back in full, although the movie implied otherwise. (this stuff was in a salon.com article I can dig up if you like)
ALL EXCEPT THE ANTIQUE SHOP EXAMPLE ARE FROM PEOPLE MAG.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

FSM-FTW!(descent) on November 20, 2006 at 11:19 am

Here’s the URL to the Salon.com article: http://www.salon.com/ent/feature/2006/11/10/guide_to_borat/
Excerpt: “Walker, who found that he’d been duped only after a friend saw Borat on the “Today” show, estimates that $500 worth of merchandise was broken during the filming, which lasted about three hours. Still, he says he harbors no ill-will about being featured in the film (the damaged antiques were all paid for, even though the film implies otherwise). “It’s a very funny movie. You have to laugh at it now. But at the time, we were just glad to get rid of him.”
However, I will not argue that the aformentioned excerpts from People magazine do show the dark underbelly of this comedy.

FSM-FTW!(descent) on November 20, 2006 at 11:44 am

Hey, I was planning to go to Criswell Automotive in Gaithersburg this week to look for a car.
Here’s Jim Sell’s page:
http://criswellauto.criswellinventory.com/Department-NewCar.aspx
I hope these guys get together and sue the crap out of that rat.
Its surprising that while Sacha Cohen guards his privacy to the point of denying everything that happened in his personal life, he loves to rip out personal details from others. While he talks about being a devout Jew (not answering phone on Friday nights and Saturdays, and observing Kosher), he doesn’t mind ruining Jewish businesses for his personal profit. What an assh0le!!
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15560972/site/newsweek/

anonymous twit on November 20, 2006 at 1:19 pm

I just see these as one-sided accusations that happen all the time when people see something they were involved in, become successful.
Debbie, would you have posted this story if you had liked the movie or would you have ignored it as “noise”?
I believe these stories deserve a chance to be heard, but they also need to be vetted.

Atlantic1 on November 20, 2006 at 1:31 pm

I saw the movie. Some parts were funny, others were gross.
In my opinion, the Muslims were the ones ridiculed more by that character “Borat.”
I thought that the Muslims, of all people, would’ve risen against Sasha and would’ve demanded his head.
But I guess either they didn’t see the movie yet, or they watched it by they are too stupid to figure out what’s going on, or they are too busy killing the Infidels in the real world they have no time watching a work of fiction.

Independent Conservative on November 20, 2006 at 2:33 pm

Indie, while SBC is obviously parodying muslims, he gets away with it by telling people his religion is that of the “hawk”

FSM-FTW!(descent) on November 20, 2006 at 3:13 pm

Maybe the Muslems will issue a fatwa on Cohen?
Just joking ho, ho, ho!

Burt on November 20, 2006 at 5:05 pm

Funny, way after the fact that Christopher Hitchens posts about the same thing as Debbie said about how the joke really was on Borat: http://www.slate.com/id/2153578
I saw the movie and thought it was hilarious. Yes some is offensive, and I really didn’t care seeing the nekkid men part, but I thought it was a good not great movie.

Jeff_W on November 21, 2006 at 12:08 pm

I guess the dumbing down of America is complete when a Guy does infantile skits that demonstrate sub-grade school humor and gets to be the number one movie in America.
This guy has absolutely no talent and when all the reviewers tell me he is a comedic genius for putting his shit in a bag, I know we as a culture are in trouble.

ScottyDog on November 21, 2006 at 1:24 pm

As a Canadian, I recall a program (hosted by CBC) broadcast here which laughed at Americans. The “comedian” was in the habit of going to the States and getting people on the streets of America to agree to say “funny” things (usually about Canada). For example, this ambush comic would have people in Georgia congratulate Canada on their first telegraph line or completion of a new igloo at Ottawa to house the parliament buildings. Most of it was sort of funny, but it grew stale real fast.
For me, the most troubling aspect was when this comic went to a Governor of a state in the U.S. and played his gag. I was absolutely embarrassed and ashamed for this “comic”. This “comic” spared no expense in trying to humiliate the Governor (but, of couse, much of this was all behind the Governor’s back — so Canadians could all “get the joke” — while the Governor remained blithely oblivious — never aware that he was being made into a laughing stock). What was incredible, though, was the good humour, the good graciousness, the kindness and generosity of this American, and the sheer ugliness (if not cruelty) of the Canadian. Anyway, to the extent that Borat falls into this same category, it’s not really funny.

J.S. on November 21, 2006 at 11:25 pm

Let’s have a reality check here–this is a popular movie, but how would it have caused the effects that are listed here? Extrapolating from the box office figures from Nov. 21, it looks like less than 5% of Americans have seen the movie.
Take the B&B case:
* Most of the people who have seen the movie leave the theatre without any idea of the names of the B&B owners or where it’s actually located–Newton, Massachusetts.
* Anyone who saw the movie would assume that the cockroaches were planted there by the film crew. (I have no idea what “special effects” would have been involved)
* The owners come across quite nicely in the segment. If you like B&Bs–I stay at them from time to time–and happen to see the movies, you might be interested to meet them. Most people looking for a B&B in Newton wouldn’t have a clue that they were in the movie.
The same analysis would apply to the car dealer, the driving instructor, the etiquette coach, etc. , all of whom came off as basically good people, playing the “straight man” part. I would closely examine any claims that someone’s business was hurt because of their anonymous “5 minutes of fame” in this movie.

erasmus on November 23, 2006 at 12:42 pm

Debbie Schlussel, you are truly a dumb fucking moron. You should take that picture of that fugly bitch off of your website banner. God damn, that whore is ugly.

Bob on August 27, 2013 at 5:00 pm

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