Audiences certainly love Borat, the film dominated the box-office two weeks in a row and has already raked in $72 million since November 3. However, forgetting about the people that love it and the critics that adore it, there are still people that are offended by it and Rolling Stone has him as their cover boy and is carrying an article in which Sacha Baron Cohen steps out from behind the Borat character and gives us his real opinion surrounding the film’s controversy.
First to the Kazakh government who is not exactly happy about the film and the way the country is portrayed. In fact they are thinking about suing the comedian and went as far as to place a full-page ad promoting the country in The New York Times:
“I’ve been in a bizarre situation, where a country has declared me as it’s number-one enemy… I was surprised, because I always had faith in the audience that they would realize that this was a fictitious country and the mere purpose of it was to allow people to bring out their own prejudices. And the reason we chose Kazakhstan was because it was a country that no one had heard anything about, so we could essentially play on stereotypes they might have about this ex-Soviet backwater. The joke is not on Kazakhstan. I think the joke is on people who can believe that the Kazakhstan that I describe can exist — who believe that there’s a country where homosexuals wear blue hats and the women live in cages and they drink fermented horse urine and the age of consent has been raised to nine years old.”
With all the talk of Kazakhstan I think the real group being targeted, if we want to call it that, is Americans. While using his Kakakh-guise he is able to point out several problems with the American society in relation to sexism, racism and in a very disturbing way, homophobia. To this Cohen responds, “Borat essentially works as a tool… By himself being anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their own prejudice, whether it’s anti-Semitism or an acceptance of anti-Semitism. ‘Throw the Jew Down the Well’ [a song performed at a country & western bar during ‘Da Ali G Show’] was a very controversial sketch, and some members of the Jewish community thought that it was actually going to encourage anti-Semitism. But to me it revealed something about that bar in Tucson. And the question is: Did it reveal that they were anti-Semitic? Perhaps. But maybe it just revealed that they were indifferent to anti-Semitism.
“I remember, when I was in university I studied history, and there was this one major historian of the Third Reich, Ian Kershaw. And his quote was, ‘The path to Auschwitz was paved with indifference.’ I know it’s not very funny being a comedian talking about the Holocaust, but I think it’s an interesting idea that not everyone in Germany had to be a raving anti-Semite. They just had to be apathetic.”
The interview is really good and worth the read. To read the complete article click here.