Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Long Live Borat!

It's true what they say about former Soviet subjects and their senses of humor - or lack thereof. At the tail end of last week, the government of Kazakhstan threatened to sue Sacha Baron Cohen, aka Ali G of "Da Ali G Show," for Cohen's portrayal of Kazakhstan's sixth most famous TV personality, Borat Sagdiyev.

Borat is a purely satirical character, but for some folks, that angle is lost at the entry level. Borat/Cohen sets himself up as the idiot first - for example, through comments about the drinking of fermented horse urine as a national Kazakh pastime. Okay, maybe the Kazakhs have a right to be pissed. Cohen could've made up a completely fictional country, and would most Americans have been the wiser? Doubtful.

Only then does Cohen go in for the kill. He uses the character's idiocy to expose the prejudices and hypocrisy of other people - and occasionally puts himself in physical jeopardy in the process. That's why it's especially baffling to read in the linked article about Jews being upset at Cohen over the "Throw the Jew Down the Well" bit. Why are they mad at Cohen, himself a Jew? He wasn't the one clapping and applauding the song...
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