Saturday, November 04, 2006
Borat posted by Richard SeymourWhat do you care what I think of this piece of shit film? Actually, it's pretty funny, but I'd find that easier to say if the newspapers would stop creaming their pants about it. The one thing that confirmed in my mind that the film was worth some highly guarded praise was that Mark Kermode didn't like it (cuz it's anti-American, innit?). One or two small spoilers follow.
Kazakhstan has nothing to do with Borat or this film - unfortunately, it is simply a placeholder for some "Asiatic savages" in the old imperial lingo. Hardly anyone in Kazakhstan looks anything like Borat, and potassium is not the main export (oil is, hence the presence of huge investment banks like ABN Amro and HSBC). So, the film is casually racist - probably not as much as in the usual Hollywood fare, but still. Actually, what is irritating about it is that the ADL worries that people will go along with the antisemitic sentiments Borat expresses, whereas it is far more likely that people will think, when they're laughing at this cheap racist caricature called 'Kazakhstan', that this kind of racism is harmless fun. However, the bulk of the film exposes American racism and sexism and homophobia and outright insanity. There is an interesting trick in the film: at one point, Borat gets out to meet some Young Black Men whom he describes out of their earshot in the foulest racist language. A menacing soundtrack plays as his little truck moves through the 'ghetto'. But, of course, the guys whom he meets turn out to be the sanest and most approachable people in the whole film, while most other people are either neurotic or racist or obnoxiously misogynistic. Same with the Jewish landlords, but then no one was likely to accept Borat's cartoonish antisemitic thoughts. Interestingly an upper class white Christian family whom he dines with are less offended when he returns from the toilet with a bag containing his shit ("so, where do you want to put?") than when his 'friend', a black prostitute, turns up. It is at that point that they get really fucked off and call the cops. Poo at the dinner table is fine, but impure sex is right out. There is a scattergun approach to the film, however, which ends up affirming some stereotypes (at least for those audience members who wish to affirm them) even as it skewers others.
Still, it is funny. And cruel, and probably unfair. And terribly over-rated. Sacha Baron Cohen doesn't need any more money or ego-massage, so I'd urge you to wait for this film to be shown on freeview.