Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Thursday, October 26, 2006

This movie film is a disgrace!

Yep, the great Borat wave has finally broken, and the moustache and cheesy grin are now to be found everywhere, with varying degrees of legality. It's time for yet another misguided controversy about a Sacha Baron Cohen character.

Last time, Americans for Missing the Point described Ali G as an Al Jonson type character, maybe not quite realising that the aim of the character was not to mock black people (for a start, he isn't black).

And the same thing's happened again. The Kazach ambassador has complained that the film is "designed to present Kazakhstan and its people in a derogatory way." And yet, if people were taking note of the film's main message, it would be the US ambassador complaining that his countrymen had been portrayed as ignorant, backwards jew-haters.

Let's look at the evidence:
- Borat asks the owner of a gunshop what would be an appropriate gun for "hunting the jew." Without hesitation he's shown a 9mm pistol.
- He sings a song in a country club with the refrain "Throw the jew down the well/so my county can be free." Far from a walkout or a barrage of abuse, the song is very well received. We even see people joining in enthusiastically.
- He asks a huntsman if it is permissible to hunt jews as well as deer. He replies "Well, I wouldn't have a problem with it..."

The Kazach ambassador recently pointed out in the Guardian that the Chief Rabbi of Israel has praised his country for its history of openness and tolerance. After reading the article you actually do feel quite sorry for the country for being mocked in this way. But it needs to be remembered that whilst there are no real Kazachs in the film, almost everyone else you see is a real American.

So why isn't the US ambassador defensively reminding the world of his country's inclusive traditions? Because if any country comes across badly in this film it's America.


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