I realize that the name of this film is Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, but I didn’t want to type all of that out and make the longest title ever. Anyways, this is the review for one of my favorite comedy films ever. The way that Sacha Baron Cohen effectively tricked everyone into believing that he was someone else and got away with most of it is impressive to say the least. In its vulgar, disgusting, and over the top theatrics, Cohen made a film that showed how ridiculous some American ideals are.
From the rampant homophobia showed by some to the complete misogyny showed by others, it took Borat to really show how ridiculous some people’s values are. His ability to make a southern man admit that he’d like it if we killed gay people might be the best thing in this film. It’s uncensored and shows the true spirit of America at the time. He also got a fraternity to show how they just see women as pigs. It’s quite impressive that these people literally said anything because they thought they were going to be on a low budget documentary. Cohen showed the country what some people really think.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and other very interesting novels has started a podcast called Revisionist History where he talks about historical events and how we have changed the way that we look at them. Why does that matter? Because his idea kinda fits here. He talks about how a painting, the Roll Call, is related to Julia Gillard, former prime minister of Australia. Borat is treated so nicely because he seems genuine to people and doesn’t take offense to them. But then the other people shown in the film aren’t the kindest to immigrants and make blatant generalizations about immigrants that are degrading. People seem to think that they treat one person nicely, then it’s okay to treat others terribly because you’ve done your one good deed. Roll Call was painted by a woman in England in 1874 and after that, no woman got recognition for years. In Australia, Gillard was elected and was treated horribly. Afterwards, Australia has never elected another woman again. I feel the same way about Borat, not only in the film, but by the way that it was watched by audiences. So many people became fans of the Borat character and some of the ideals that we had, but discrimination and other degrading views of people didn’t stop. It’s not like one day Americans wore a green speedo and stopped blaming immigrants for its problems. Gladwell makes the argument that it’s human nature to only pick a few people you like and then make sweeping generalizations that harm a group of people because you’re doing good to one individual. I realize that this idea is paraphrased and crosses many logic hurdles very quickly, but I think if I fully wrote it out, it would be a full novel. If you want more information, I highly recommend the podcast Revisionist History from someone who is smarter than me, Malcolm Gladwell.
The rest of Borat is filled with more humor that’s targeted towards a more immature crowd. This movie tries to offend you in the most atrocious ways possible until you almost become numb to it. I think it’s amazingly well done. Sometimes the pacing is weird; sometimes the gags don’t work. But these missteps are minuscule in the way the film in comparison to what is a widely successful, hilarious film.
Overall, this film is completely outrageous. I’m honestly surprised anyone allowed him to make this film, but the studio turned around and let him make Bruno. Hopefully people take more out of this film than just catch phrases in ridiculous voices “NICE!” or “HIGH FIVE!” and understand what this film is really about. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not about going to California to meet Pamela Anderson from Baywatch.