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.