Bo­rat back­lash

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

“Tol­er­ance has dis­ap­peared for Pol­ish jokes, Ital­ian jokes, Chi­nese jokes, even Dumb Blonde jokes — in short, jokes the teller uses to pro­claim his/her su­pe­ri­or­ity by de­mean­ing oth­ers. [. . .]

“Now comes a movie in which Sacha Baron Co­hen, an Ortho­dox Jewish co­me­dian from Eng­land, plays Bo­rat, a sup­posed television re­porter from Kaza­khstan in Cen­tral Asia, tour­ing the United States in­ter­view­ing Amer­i­cans sup­pos­edly at ran­dom. [. . .] Co­hen’s in­ten­tion is to sat­i­rize sex­ism, racism and other isms by get­ting his re­al­life in­ter­view sub­jects to say big­oted things. With the ex­cep­tion of a cou­ple of South Carolina col­lege stu­dents, how­ever, his sub­jects are scrupu­lously po­lite, not quite sure what to make of this boor­ish, racist, sex­ist yokel from afar. [. . .]

“While Co­hen’s Bo­rat fails to show that or­di­nary Amer­i­cans are hope­less big­ots, his satiric tech­nique tells us he thinks that mak­ing an en­tire coun­try and its peo­ple the butt of his shtick is OK. [. . .] The au­di­ence un­der­stands this is all for laughs, but not one in a mil­lion Amer­i­cans is go­ing to take the trou­ble to learn about the real Kaza­khstan, so will be left with the im­pres­sion that, at best, it is a very back­ward place.”

— Peter Hannaford, writ­ing on “Bo­rat the Soft Bigot,” Dec. 1 in the Amer­i­can Spec­ta­tor On­line at www.spec­ta­

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