Friday, November 17, 2006


It's undeniable that Borat is funny. In fact, in certain moments, it's downright hilarious. Sascha Baron Cohen is a fearless, relentless comedian and as proven in one particular scene involving all-male nude wrestling, there's nothing he won't do. The absolute abandonment of inhibition is an admirable quality and Baron Cohen is wholly devoted to his craft. It's bordeline-brilliant, it's unlike anything we've seen before. It's as close to comedic perfection as we'll get in a movie theater these days.

But Borat is also the singular most uncomfortable movie experience that I've had in years. After the film was over, I left the theater unnerved and exhausted. Despite my near-overdose exposure to the film's effective viral campaign, I was still ill prepared for the year's most deservedly controversial films ever. It's one thing to expose racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and homophobia (commendable), but it's another thing to trick innocent and harmless people into feeling dumb (questionable).

Will the parodization of hatred leave the masses with an illuminating message of tolerance or will it only perpetuate stereotypes into the minds of the impressionable? It's a difficult question to answer but something I can't help but consider. As we left the movie theater, Shana told me that her students believed that the Jews made up the majority of America's population and that it was indeed factual that all Jews in Brooklyn were rich. I wondered if art like Borat--yes, art--creates a thought-provoking dialogue, or if it subliminally concretes the prejudices of others. Bear in mind, there are a lot of ignorant people walking into movie theaters.

I will admit that I'm a tad on the sensitive side, so, from a critical standpoint, I did laugh uncontrollably at certain scenes, but then again, I was expected to laugh. We were all told that Borat would be hilarious which worked in its favor (prepared to laugh) but also did not (expected so much more).

Despite my over-thinking, you should see this movie and then tell me what you thought because Borat is a substantial pop culture moment, the topic of conversation in 2006, or as the Staten Islander behind me said to his girlfriend, "Our parents remember where they were when Kennedy got shot. We'll remember where we saw Borat."

Like I said, there are a lot of stupid people going to the movies.


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