||Year End 2006|
Interview: The Terminator
Industrial: Vive La Resistance
Unions: Breaking News
History: Seven Deadly Sins
Economics: Back to the Future
Politics: Organising and Organisations
International: Web Retrospective
Review: Shock Therapy
All the Best
You know the drill by know. Borat Sagdiev (aka British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen), TV journalist from Kazakhstan, goes on a government-backed cultural tour of the United States to make a documentary.
Yes, you've probably seen some of the best bits already. But nothing can prepare you for an unrelenting 90 minutes of Borat - excruciating at times, side-splittingly funny at others.
The film centres on Borat's encounters with ordinary Americans, in which he refuses to obey the most fundamental of social conventions - crowing about 'sexy times' with his mother-in-law, trying to kiss commuters on the train, running naked through a mortgage-brokers convention in his hotel, and looking for the 'pussy magnet' in his new car. Nothing's taboo.
Along the way, Borat exposes the darker side of America, rooting out alarming displays of prejudice, hypocrisy and ignorance.
Cohen explores the fraught nature of pop culture and the 'ideal woman' in his trans-American pursuit of Pamela Anderson, culminating in a hilarious attempted kidnapping; race relations - some of the nicest people he meets are a group of scary-looking African-Americans guys in a run-down ghetto and the charming black prostitute Lurnelle; America's 'war of terror'; attitudes to gays and, famously, Jews. Footage is shown from his village where 'the running of the Jew' is celebrated every year.
Borat leaves most people shocked. But there are some chilling moments when the people he encounters don't bat an eyelid at his outrageous bigotry: the gun dealer who gives him suggestions for the best 'guns to kill Jews'; the car dealer who tells him how fast he'd need to drive into a group of gypsies; the drunk students' rant against women; the rodeo spectator who agrees with Kazakhstan's policy of killing gays.
While shocking, those examples are a tiny minority of the people Borat meets. Most of the ordinary Americans featured are friendly, tolerant, remarkably patient in the face of extreme provocation, and keen to help a hapless foreigner. (Though, as one points out, he might do better if he shaved his moustache and looked a little less Middle Eastern.)
Even the mid-western rodeo audience who cheer Borat's approval of the 'US and A's war of terror' look aghast when he calls for Bush to drink the blood of the men, women and children of Iraq.
Let's look forward to a Borat tour of Australia. He could visit Redfern, see the Big Merino and learn some lessons on exploitation courtesy of WorkChoices to take back to Kazakhstan.
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