Borat: A Comedy Based on an Umcomfortable Parody of Jewish People
Hello. My name-a-Borat. Yeshgemish. Or something like that. Borat was the surprise runaway hit movie of the fall. Due, in no small part, to the clever grass roots marketing of English born and Cambridge educated Sacha Baron Cohen. Borat: the Cultural Learnings of America Make for Glorious Benefit of Nation of Kazahkstan is a whirlwind of a movie.
It chronicles Borat (Cohen), a journalist from Kazahkstan, and his fat cohort’s adventures in the United States as a kind of bawdy cultural exchange program. In the process, Borat finds his love, Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson, and he must find her in his newly purchased ice-cream truck.
Cross country trip, here he comes. But for all of the the fun and tomfoolery along the way, Cohen has been taken by a lot of people as a clever social satirist, as one who turns social and cultural conventions inside out in order to reveal the true character of a people and a nation at war.
After all, Mr. Cohen is himself a Jew, and a highly educated one at that. Surely someone of his refinement would never portray Jews as cockroaches or sing a song about throwing a Jew down a well just for the laughs? Would he? I mean c’mon. The Jews are hairy monsters, with long claws and should be target shooting practice shouldn’t they? Or should they? The fact of the matter is, no one knows what Mr. Cohen’s intentions are, or if he had any at all, other than presenting a movie to the going audience, a rather disturbing one. They simply assume an English gentleman would never stoop so low as to denigrate his own kind.
But this begs the question, if someone really wanted to parody and humiliate his own kind, would he go such depths? Why would someone portray humiliation in such a way to make us laugh? Are we simply to laugh uncomfortably and suddenly realize what wrong, we the audience, have done? There are enough Nazi movies out there to make any man puke at anti Semitism. Making an extreme comedy seems a bit much.
Then again we could be laughing about Borat for all of his backward behavior. He is the stupid one, making fun of the Jews. If so, is Mr. Cohen trying to vindicate the Jews and making Kazhakstanis look foolish?
Then there are the stupid Americans. According to the movie, Americans are a bunch of self-serving, hypocrites who overcomplicate things and can’t enjoy the simple things in life. Are we suppose to hate us?
It’s a bit confusing given that all of the humor in the movie is offensive on every level and aimed at everyone. Are we to feel uncomfortable at every scene or just some of them? Or does it really matter? After all, it is Mr. Cohen who is laughing all the way to the bank. Dirty Jew.