The Genius of Borat

By: Jake Fallin



Borat: The Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is undoubtedly one of my favorite comedies of all time.  It’s gross, inappropriate, rude, and controversial, to name a few qualities, but that is just the surface.  While the two main characters and a few others are scripted and acted, the reaction from all of the other people involved in the film is 100% genuine.  This creates a film thats both funny, and eye opening.  And that is where the genius lies.

In the film, the character Borat, a reporter from Kazakhstan travels across the United States following a fictional narrative for the character and his boss, Azamat.  Along the way, the two stop in specific locations to either chat and interact with the people of America.  He attends public events, speaks with city officials, joins different clubs, interviews different city groups, hitchhikes with college guys, and even sings the “national anthem” for a rodeo.  These many skits give the character a deep variety of ways to interact with Americans.  The reactions, whether they be disgust, shock, anger, encouragement, or cluelessness are all recorded for the audience to laugh and enjoy.

Part of the genius in the film, and why the reactions are so great, is the actual character of Borat.  He’s offensive, racist, rude, clueless, and misogynistic with no manners whatsoever.  He’s a combination of the numerous stereotypes many Americans have on foreigners, and Americans can’t tell that this man is in fact just a character.  He was even interviewed on a real American news network during shooting!



Along with this, some of the reactions that encourage his behavior are a bit frightening almost.  When shouting for bush to “drink the blood of every man, woman, and child in Iraq,” the crowd at the rodeos cheers louder.  This scene also has a really funny ending.  You can check it out here.  He receives constant approvals from Americans that Borat receives when talking in a negative way about woman, homosexuals, and Jewish people.  Through his character, negative stereotypes and ideologies in America are brought to the surface.

This gives a more non-fictional feel to the film.  While some parts are written and acted out, most are genuine reactions captured in a documentary style of Americans.  When looking at our own culture this way, the film gives room to laugh and to cringe.



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5 Responses to The Genius of Borat

  1. mediaphiles says:

    Borat is great! I love this film! Most of the scenes are extremely cringe worthy, but the movie is extremely funny. I like how you talk about how the film does point out the way many Americans view foreigners and the problems that creates. The film is hilarious, but does bring many issues to the attention of the viewer.

    -Walker Rise

  2. How have I not seen this?! My watch list is getting infinitely long. I think it is such a weird phenomena how excessive use of offensive material somehow becomes unoffensive–but if you sprinkle only a little in, people like to complain. That said, I love films that are over-the-top when it comes to being crude. I think it’s just the mindset that you can’t (and shouldn’t) take it seriously.

    -Kelly FitzGerald

  3. mediaphiles says:

    Jake, I have to say, I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Sacha Baron Cohen for his ability to perform these public acts and not break character and in turn, deal with the consequences. My first introduction to him, was my father showing me, “The Ali G Show” and if you have not had a chance to watch it yet, you simply must!

    -Luke Dellorso

  4. mediaphiles says:

    Borat is definitely an all-time classic comedy, and Sacha’s ability to play these incredibly wacky roles flawlessly is really impressive. I agree that its funny and sends a funny message how Borat plays a foreigner in the country but embodies all of the stereotypical American traits.

    -Max Lissette

  5. mediaphiles says:

    This film would especially be interesting to revisit in recent events. I wonder if Sacha Baron Cohen is working on something similar to this again. I know he had another movie, but I would love to see him do something similar during a heavy political season in America. His career has blown up since Borat though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this kind of work is unnecessary for him now.

    Russell Lawrence

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