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Published by Brandon M. Dennis

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Published by: Brandon M. Dennis on Nov 22, 2010
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Brandon M. Denniswww.oxhorn.com1
Borat Vindicates Americans
Brandon M. Dennis
 Published in The Daily of the University of Washington November, 2006  Borat: Cultural Learning’s of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
,has been in the news an awful lot recently, and it isn’t because it is a feel-good familyflick you could take your kids to. Far from it. It is because it is a hilarious movie that isvery crude at times and which is purported to give a not-so pleasant view of Americans intheir “natural habitat”. Now, I’m not endorsing the movie. It was funny. Very funny. I laughed my gutsout, but all the while I felt ashamed doing so. When the movie ended at the theater whereI saw it, the audience just sat there as the credits rolled trying to process what it was theyhad just seen, and very slowly they all stood, some with eyes wide and other chuckling tothemselves, but all clearly both uncomfortable and thoroughly entertained. I personallyfelt like taking a hot shower afterwards. If you like a clever comedy and are prepared tolaugh hysterically and then wash your eyes out with bleach when you get home, then
is right up your alley.What distinguishes
from all the other vulgar dime-a-dozen explicitcomedies out there is its supposed exposé showing Americans as they really are. HBOspokesman Quentin Schaffer has been quoted as saying, “Through [Cohen’s] alter-egos,he delivers an obvious satire that exposes people’s ignorance and prejudice...andEntertainment Weekly adds, “…the people Borat talks to become the symbolic heart of America - a place where intolerance is worn, increasingly, with pride.” I think that inorder to make statements like this, one has to overlook an awful lot of genuine Americangoodness that was demonstrated in the film.To be sure, Borat came upon a few rude people. I have read reviews that havetried to vindicate the Americans who were played for chumps in this film, but they havenot, I believe, given enough attention to those who certainly fumbled a bit. Cohen, asBorat, was given a ride by drunken frat boys who said, among other things, that theywished slavery still existed and that racial minorities get all the breaks. When at a rodeo
Brandon M. Denniswww.oxhorn.com2he talked with one cowboy who talked about Muslims in a very racist manner and whoexpressed his desire to hang homosexuals. When interviewing some feminists hementioned that his country’s scientists have proven that women’s brains are the size of squirrel brains, and the feminists were rude and walked off mid-interview.But what I believe has been overlooked by any who approach this movie with theidea of placing the spectacle of ridicule upon Americans are the numerous instances of Americans treating Borat kindly and with understanding without falling for Cohen’sspecific attempts to bring out racism and bigotry in them.For instance, there was one time when Borat was invited to a rich dinner party, onSecession Drive, no less. He was treated amicably and with understanding, despitecalling a pastor’s wife ugly and bringing a plastic bag of feces to the table. It wasn’t untilBorat invited a scantily-clad prostitute into their home that the hosts kicked him out, butup until then they did their best to try and understand this strange foreigner and treat himwell.There was another scene when Cohen took driving lessons from an instructor anddid his best to goad the instructor into saying something bigoted. When Borat kissed theinstructor, the instructor simply shrugged and said that he wasn’t used to it, but that it wasok. Borat, while driving, began to talk about his view of women and the instructor was sohorrified that he had to say that women have a right to choose the person with whom theyhave sex (to Borat’s utter shock and dismay, of course).When invited onto a local news station for an interview, Cohen frustrated thestation with his inability to understand the procedure and his constant interruption of theweather broadcast, but instead of getting angry, throwing racial slurs and kicking him out,the crew laughed hysterically and continued the interview for a good while before he left.Even when he was with the racist frat boys, they treated him well. They gave hima free ride, called him “brother”, gave him drinks and showed him movies. They banteredaround like chums and gave him sympathy when Borat discovered that the love of his life(Pamela Anderson) was no longer a virgin. They certainly said some controversialremarks, but they treated Borat with kindness.

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