Friday, December 01, 2006

How could we have avoided... a Borat?

I meant to say something about the Borat movie right after I saw it two weeks ago. It's slacking at the box office now that it’s been out for a while (like most movies). But it started pretty strong, pulling in $67.8 million in its first 10 days. So people were watching it, and I know my friends are still talking about it.

Normally I don't watch movies when I'm out of town, but I finally had to give in and see Borat in Louisville, Ky. I was visiting my buddy Chris, who works at The Courier-Journal. We had quoted enough lines from the trailer, and we had to find out if the whole movie was actually that funny.

A lot of it was. Let's face it: anytime there are exploited linguistic nuances (i.e. "not" jokes), farm animals in fancy hotels and Pamela Anderson stalking, you should expect some laughs. The gratuitous male nudity probably got more uneasy squirms than chuckles in the theater I was in. It really was pretty gross. (You'll just have to see it.)

But as funny as it was, I can definitely see why some would be offended and why others who are in the movie are embarrassed. There are people saying racist and sexist things - which, for better or worse, many people do find funny.

Now, feeling so sorry for the saps who went in front of the camera is another story. Many of them, including some University of South Carolina students, seem to think we should. I don't. I can't say much about the legality of their challenges because there apparently were release forms and alcohol involved.

Journalists like us (not that I'm calling Sacha Baron Cohen a journalist) would consider the situation when recording what an impaired person says.

A good rule of thumb for those less experienced with the ways of being observed by someone who makes videos, newspapers or books: If you don't want anyone to know you're a closeted bigot or even willing to joke about sensitive topics, keep your mouth shut when someone with a camera or a notebook is around!

See Alex's blog for an AP article about a TV producer from the Jackson, Miss., station featured in the movie.


Anonymous said...

Bruno's gonna be a hit just like Borat.

Reel Fanatic said...

Of all the people beefing with Borat, those USC kids have the least leg to stand on .. Anyone who says they want to own slaves, no matter how drunk they are, is simply an asshole

Joel Anderson said...

I just didn't get the hype about "Borat." It was a very funny movie, of course. One of the funniest I've seen in recent years.

But, in all honesty, I don't think I learned anything about America and some of its citizens that I didn't already know. For that matter, I can't imagine that anyone could have learned anything either.

Cohen could have filmed some of those scenes anywhere, Shreveport, Chicago, Barcelona, or wherever, and elicited similar offensive comments. Trying to turn this movie into some sort of high-minded intellectual gag has been folly for lots of reviewers, to me.