Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Movies don't happen in a vacuum. Some movies have a profound effect on the people in the background. For instance, Michael Moore has made a living out of using trickery and deception to get people to make statements to him that he can then take out of context to exploit for his own political agenda. Borat is a movie created by Sacha Cohen based upon one of his alter-egos from Da Ali G Show. (Yo, check it). Several news stories surfaced following the release of this movie indicating that Cohen lied to several people regarding the intent of this movie, exploiting them to further the situational comedy in this film. There were several lawsuits because of Cohen's misrepresentations.
I admit that I was an avid fan of Da Ali G Show during it's run on HBO. The sketches were more Saturday Night Live than feature film length stories. Each sketch in the television series was based on several characters created by Cohen. Among these characters was Borat, a Kazakh news reporter. This character is very blunt and politically incorrect. He uses language barriers to create uncomfortable situations and situational humor. Cohen is skilled at redirecting people around him to provide the responses he wants. I remember one particular sketch where he played a fashion critic, and convinced other fashion critics to give favorable reviews on Paris Hilton after they had trashed her, by commenting that his company is partially owned by the Hiltons. This manipulation was evident in the television series, but was apparently done covertly in the film.
Borat is basically a story loosely based on the character from the television series. The concept at work is that Borat, a Kazakh newsman, is going to travel to the United States to film a documentary. This cultural exchange will expose people in the United States to Kazakh culture while providing insight into US culture. During his travels to the United States, Borat becomes sidetracked from his original mission after falling in love with Pamela Anderson. The movie takes jabs at cultural taboos, interpersonal faux pas, and political correctness. The results are often humorous, but sometimes tedious or just plain rude.
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