Making fun of whom?

I’m genuinely perplexed about Borat.

I thought the character had the same motives as Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Ali G character, a ridiculously obviously untrue spoof character who’s purpose is to make fun of the idiots around him, and to either wind up his audience, get them to display their prejudices to what they think will be a like minded audience, or even in the case of the rodeo scenes both. While Ali G is a spoof Gangsta Rapper, the character is not making fun of black people, but the targets that don’t even notice that Baron Cohen isn’t even Black. Similarly with the character of Borat Kazakhstan was, I thought, not being made fun of.

Borat’s wikipedia article states: The differences between Borat’s fictional homeland in Kazakhstan and the actual people and way of life in the country are so far apart that some speculate whether Cohen made it that way to be a satire of American views of the world. Some people speculate? Surely this is the point writ large, not people reading things into the performance?

However, having said all that, like Ali G on Children In Need, Borat is often performed to people who really ought to be in on the joke. In the film there is linking material without a stooge to laugh at. Many are up in arms, especially the Kasakhs who aren’t helped by having the character brought to their attention by the more hard of thinking end of the press. Are we laughing at foreigners, rather than those who would laugh at foreigners?

Mind you people thought Alf Garnett was a mouth piece for racism, rather than as the character actually was, fighting such prejudice by sending it up.


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