Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

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knives
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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#51 Post by knives » Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:21 am

I can't get this movie out of my head. I feel comfortable calling it not only Baron Cohen's masterpiece, but the first great feature to in a real way provide a release on our situation with a beautiful and cathartic relaxation. So let me steal a little from ColinR and hopefully spit out something coherent about this film. The film's naked construct is key to that, but before I can talk about the film in isolation it begs to be talked about in connection with the first, something (which to connect back to earlier comments in the thread) highlights the importance of collaboration on these films which seems an extension of the movie as a whole. I'm not familiar with Woliner, but this movie highlights Charles' contributions of emphasizing to the point of a narrative structure (even moreso than In Da House had) this idea of a cinema verite world with a fictional character imposed upon it with Borat acting as disrupter and inducing revelations. This film goes into a completely different direction keeping the audience on its toes through reflexively pondering the movie's own making like a piece of Bretchian theater.

What I mean by theater comes in a lot of forms here. First off the documentary aspect is basically dropped. There's no narrative justification for the cameras and the plotline fits well within established structures rather then going after a documentary things will happen structure. That leaves the film open to talking about its own artifice as Borat deals with the impossibility of his own purpose in a world where he's well known. The film focuses in on this reverse the flows I mentioned earlier so now we are in a purely fictional world, how Kazakhstan is represented here without real people unlike in the first movie, that reality imposes upon until it gets to be too much. The world disrupts the intended story discombobulating Borat's understanding of a Borat movie much like how the real world has had to adjust meaning with the revelations being forced onto our fictional character in a way that highlights America's standing as one of the world's few true empires.

One of the most fun games the movie plays is in the question of staging. Many of the scenes in the film is reconfigured from the original 'what a maroon' type of gag to a far more interesting how much are these people in on the gag. It keeps the film spritely and allows for some real shocks.
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For example, I thought for sure the phone salesman was in on the gag, but then the film breaks the fourth wall by having him utter something like, "Oh, I know who this is," recontextualizing the scene as one of sincerity which somehow makes it funny in a fresh way.
Even if that was just the limits of the film two laughs for the price of one jokes isn't something to sneeze at. The nakedness of the film's construction is the element most in the movie's favour though.

The movie was clearly intended to be more of the same at first with the southern ball and sugar baby scenes playing basically how they would have in the original film, but as the plague forces its way into the film you can see Baron Cohen steer the ship in a whole new direction with additional themes. It clearly became a necessary motivator which doubtlessly improved upon the end product. An interesting thing the film asks of the audience is to set up a timeline of the filming of certain scenes in the plagued timeline in order to understand where everyone's head was during filming. Less a chore this makes many of the jokes significantly funnier while also adding to the scenes of pathos. The ball and chain sequence probably was intended to be just absurd and uncomfortable, but it becomes the fulcrum of the film's switch into just how bizarre reality has become and the need for empathy as a cure. It's a shocking scene for its quietness and lack of obvious shock value.

That also brings up the film's great addition of Maria Bakalova who just runs away with the film starting off as just some sort of slime monster before becoming the perfect example of teenaged rebellion: Tomi Lahren. It's a wonderful, hilarious, and expansive performance which guarantees that regardless of what direction the film went in it would have been hilarious. In particular her role in the final act as a catalyst for restructuring Kazakh society and mirroring America's youth based twitter movements is a perfect shower of cold water. What's interesting is in the film's message of generational power change doesn't really occur. Borat is largely as terrible as before, but with updated and 'worthy' targets like Karen and Trump that make it so that he can continue to not effect change upon himself which seems apropo for the Qannon folk that have been talked about so much in the thread. The issue isn't that they believe this wacky stuff, that's just a symptom of the disease, but that they can't deal with the idea of changing themselves which is something that can more universally be drawn (and I think the discussion of their humanity is an example of the twitter youth having to deal with this). I can understand why MZS and some in this thread view this as harrowing or dark as that message is an unpleasant truth to deal. We don't like changing and it's easier to other rather than assimilate everyone as part of this organ we call society.

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#52 Post by RIP Film » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:49 am

Agreed with Knives. I also found the film's construction exceedingly clever, and what a beast it must have been to tame with all that was going on, and for it to be narratively and thematically satisfying on top of that. In a world where everyone is sort of immersed in their own curated cultural greenhouse, the format is so complimentary with a fictional character confronting actual people and competing for who is less absurd. In drawing attention to the narrative structure in an obvious way (How did they do that? When did they do that?), it segues into the film's main theme, which is the strength of narratives. And of course this is shown in Borat himself who leaves Kazakhstan thinking women are worthless and comes back with a transformation of opinion through exposure; which seems to be the message the film wants to impart. By humanizing the Qanon folk it challenges the idea of our own bias of narrative, while also focusing on theirs-- since the two men are obviously decent people but thoroughly marinated in the capitalist media soup, which based on political ideology, relies on the demonization of the other to the point where they cease to be human.

It makes me think of someone at work, who is the nicest guy you'd ever meet and would probably wake up at midnight to help you with car trouble, but also believes Officer Chauvin did nothing wrong, that looters/vandalizers should be summarily shot, and that masks don't do anything. I think this film provides a context for reframing our antagonism, but at the same time I wonder how wide Borat's audience is.
Last edited by RIP Film on Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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knives
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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#53 Post by knives » Sun Oct 25, 2020 12:45 pm

I’m curious about the audience too, but I think that the film is so multifaceted in showing the absurdity of cliques that it is applicable to any society.

One thing I forgot to mention as part of the film’s self reflexivity is how the Kazakh language works here. In the previous the Hebrew and Armenian were just throw away gags for bilingual listeners, but here it gives an idea of the writing process. I can’t speak for Bakalova’s dialogue, but Baron Cohen’s often is directly translated by the subtitles and when it is isn’t it also shows what feels like first draft versions of the final joke.

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#54 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:17 pm

knives wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:21 am
One of the most fun games the movie plays is in the question of staging. Many of the scenes in the film is reconfigured from the original 'what a maroon' type of gag to a far more interesting how much are these people in on the gag. It keeps the film spritely and allows for some real shocks.
SpoilerShow
For example, I thought for sure the phone salesman was in on the gag, but then the film breaks the fourth wall by having him utter something like, "Oh, I know who this is," recontextualizing the scene as one of sincerity which somehow makes it funny in a fresh way.
SpoilerShow
He actually says, "I think he's figured it out" in relation to Borat learning how the phone works (after seeing him type pornographic words into google) which maybe you mistook for him saying that he's figured out who Borat is, but it's more of a half-witty, mostly nervous response for the camera regarding Borat's activity, yet still signifying that he isn't in on the gag as you say. Though that seems like nothing new for Borat's relationship with those who cross his path, and I'm wondering if your idea of these "fun games" going on have more to do with your own preconceived notions of how subjects must be questioned as potentially 'in' on the joke, due to our own familiarity with Borat now as a cultural icon, rather than any variable in the film that assists in that process of elicitation.

It seems like by simply existing the film draws that response from some people, a larger contextual relationship between the audience and their own concept of milieu with art in between as glasses being looked through, that the inner workings of the film don't play a part in contributing to in any clever way, pertaining to that idea at least. That's not to say that it's not worth exploring or expressing since the film's presence does do those things and should be contextualized that way as a macro force causing such thoughts, but my point is that I'm not observing how Cohen evokes this with gags or construction within the film.

I do agree, however, with other clever games Cohen plays with construction, specifically the empathic method he uses to explore the humanity of the two men who are alt-right conspiracy-theorists he lives with, which I already mentioned. Even the fact that we are referring to them as the QAnon guys speaks to how we define people uncharitably and unidimensionally in reference rather than as full people deserving of complex assessments that Cohen gives them.

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knives
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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#55 Post by knives » Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:45 pm

The film explicitly sets that up as a concern throughout the film. For example the extended gag at the start of everyone chasing and recognizing him. The film emphasizes this to such a degree that its undoubtedly part of the film's explicit texture. That early sequence, as well as the lack of mockumentary set up and change of editing style from previous Borat efforts, makes any appearance of Borat out of costume one we have to question because why doesn't he wear the costume then. Even if my example is proven false my larger point still stands as that was only mentioned to explicitly provide a fourth wall break. Even if there were no fourth wall breaks the change in overall aesthetic as well as the meta-narrative key to understanding the movie (which would probably be gibberish for the first thirty minutes for anyone unfamiliar with the character) and so to say that the film is interested in its own fiction doesn't seem a radical statement.

Afterall, one joke a feature doesn't make.

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#56 Post by swo17 » Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:50 pm

My two favorite jokes:
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- "By the way, the monkey didn't eat himself."

- The description of how Borat would be executed, and the look on his face as it's read to him

Oh, and his Jew disguise, and the Usual Suspects ending

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#57 Post by Nasir007 » Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:59 pm

I think it will take a while for me to have a definite opinion on this film but I will try to articulate what I think for now.

I laughed a grand total of 1 time - at the fairytale story in Tutar's book. I still burst into laughter thinking about it. I would say that was the one genuinely hilarious moment in the film. Even the baby sitter's reaction to it was so hilarious. That one I kinda bought to be a genuine reaction. :D

And I was "shocked" - in a good way - a grand total of 1 time - by the ballroom dance sequence. Though I might say I am not a very shockable person most of the time.

But besides that, there was absolutely nothing provocative or transgressive or subversive in this film. I would say I saw more of those things in the latest Lars von Trier movie than here.

What a pity that even Sacha Baron Cohen has fallen prey to our politically correct, coddling echo chamber stylings. Familiar targets abound - trump, karens, gop, republicans, pence, rudy, gun nuts, QAnon, white supremacists, pro-lifers - you name it. And I get the point that some might think you cannot savage them enough. But it so stale so familiar so dime a dozen now. Like literally any Bill Maher or Samantha Bee segment or any Colbert, Kimmel, Meyers, Corden, SNL or for that matter any comedy on these days hits the same targets. Or for that matter, take forget the caricature and turn on a news channel and it's the same things.

Not even SBC now can pierce the echo chamber. Even he has fallen for the familiar #resistanceTM stylings. It will please his audience, tell them what they want to hear, make them feel nice about themselves and not even remotely challenge them or provoke them. Just confirm what they already know.

Is this the sad state of comedy today? I think comedy is most powerful and provocative and pungent and has an edge when it excoriates its actual intended audience. For dramatic comparison think to someone like Haneke - he bludgeons and destroys the exact audience for whom he makes his films - the educated complacent intelligentsia. And that is what makes his work vital and bracing. You could say the same thing about von Trier to a certain extent. It is confronting in the best way possible.

Where is the courage here? Why not lampoon BLM. Why not make fun of race protests? Why not go after Democrats and the media and the Hollywood celebrities? Because that would cross a line. It is too urgent to defeat trump right? There can be no dissent. None would be tolerated. Some things are sacred right? Above jokes? You perhaps cannot lampoon Obama? All of these things would have actually challenged the audience and provoked them and been shocking - all of the things we would have wanted - at least I would have wanted. I wanted to be challenged and provoked, not coddled.

There is also a strain of sentimentality throughout the entire thing which again shows the infantilization of comedy. Again where is the edge? Like for example, at the end -
SpoilerShow
When Tutar tells Borat something like do you love me now? Why not show them fucking or something? Destroy any good feelings and burst the bubble of sentimentality.
Even structurally, the film seems overly scripted. Its design is so apparent, it has entirely relinquished the illusion of being a slapped together thing. It owes Rudy for its shape. I think without the Rudy episode, they don't have a movie or at least they don't have an ending, they have constructed the movie around that prank.

Most of the pranks fall flat. Like when Tutar infiltrates the GOP women club or whatever it was. She goes to the stage and makes some crude statements. Reaction from the audience? Nothing. Dead. Blank impassive faces. You might think something like that might have been cut.

I think there is also the reality that today people are so used to being on camera, whether through TikTok or streams, or even CC TV cameras. There are so many red lines that people as it is seem on guard somewhat, especially knowing there are cameras around. There is also the impulse towards unflappability - acting cool under all circumstances because you don't want to appear melodramatic. There is also the sheer element of kindness, patience, tolerance of perhaps accommodating foreigners who are not very familiar with English and the American way of life. What might have seemed patience earlier seems monstrous today. Because unless you physically slap someone who says something inappropriate in front of you, you are complicit.

Just overall the style seems tired, the pranks seemed toothless, the targets were all punching down, and there was just an over-reliance on scripting and plotting.

The film is interesting still for reasons other than what SCB intended perhaps, in looking at the fascinating ways society has evolved since 2006. And there is some cleverness in the construction of it. I can appreciate the hustle behind the endeavor. But this has the feel of a very much skit of the day kinda thing. Our society is evolving very rapidly. There are interesting observations to be made about it. This doesn't quite seem to be it.

I still think it falls on the side of being a good movie and is watchable enough. I will see if my opinion changes materially as time goes on.

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knives
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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#58 Post by knives » Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:21 pm

If you took the Karen joke to be on Karens and not on people who make fun of Karens then you really weren't looking at the glue that keeps this together.

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#59 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:34 pm

knives wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:45 pm
The film explicitly sets that up as a concern throughout the film. For example the extended gag at the start of everyone chasing and recognizing him. The film emphasizes this to such a degree that its undoubtedly part of the film's explicit texture. That early sequence, as well as the lack of mockumentary set up and change of editing style from previous Borat efforts, makes any appearance of Borat out of costume one we have to question because why doesn't he wear the costume then. Even if my example is proven false my larger point still stands as that was only mentioned to explicitly provide a fourth wall break. Even if there were no fourth wall breaks the change in overall aesthetic as well as the meta-narrative key to understanding the movie (which would probably be gibberish for the first thirty minutes for anyone unfamiliar with the character) and so to say that the film is interested in its own fiction doesn't seem a radical statement.
Yeah I agree with your point there overall regarding aesthetics and narrative form, I just see our own reflexive experience as the dominant driving force guided slightly via the film's style, but I wouldn't say that exists to provide a fourth-wall break on some larger intentional level. Regardless of the discrepancies in how much credit is allotted to Cohen's auteurist objective vs the audience's contextual legwork, we both got similar effects out of it, even if you liked the film a whole lot more than I did.

I guess I'll reveal my favorite bit too:
SpoilerShow
When Borat observes that America is much different now than his last trip in 2006 and shows city-dwellers in public homogeneously staring into their smartphones, "Americans have become calculator-crazy!" I have no idea why that struck such a chord with me, but it had my howling for minutes alone while none of the other, admittedly more intelligent, actual gags had the effects they once would have.

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knives
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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#60 Post by knives » Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:40 pm

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Don’t feel too bad. Notorious pussy hound Mike Pen-is is still my favorite gag.

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#61 Post by aox » Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:30 pm

Nasir007 wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:59 pm

Where is the courage here? Why not lampoon BLM. Why not make fun of race protests?
Are you seriously suggesting that this film should "punch-down" in its comedic approach? Make fun of citizens protesting/asking that some of their fellow citizens not be executed by public officials in the street?

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#62 Post by smccolgan » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:50 pm

aox wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:30 pm
Nasir007 wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:59 pm

Where is the courage here? Why not lampoon BLM. Why not make fun of race protests?
Are you seriously suggesting that this film should "punch-down" in its comedic approach? Make fun of citizens protesting/asking that some of their fellow citizens not be executed by public officials in the street?
A lot of the film does feel like “punching down” or lazy satirical targets, but it also seems like the impact of quarantine was taken into account.

Also, what is there to mock?

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#63 Post by barryconvex » Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:25 pm

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"Rudy, she's 15! Much too old for you!!"

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#64 Post by cdnchris » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:25 pm

Not as funny as the first, and possibly more painful, but there was something sort of cathartic about it. Had to love the guy at the print shop putting up with all of that nonsense. That's a pro

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Very Nice!

#65 Post by Lemmy Caution » Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:50 pm

Image

Kazakhstan decides not to fight Borat this time. Instead getting in on the joke to an extent.
Funny, just the other day I was thinking that Kazakhstan should invite Sasha Baron Cohen to host a Kazakh travel program, highlighting genuine stuff to do and see in the country. People would be interested and it'd be some nice payback for the harm he's caused to the country's reputation. And hopefully it would boost tourism there.
Full disclosure: Kazakhstan is in my travel queue and was probably scheduled for October 2021 and still could be depending how things shake out with the virus. But more likely 2022 at this point.

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Re: Very Nice!

#66 Post by L.A. » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:34 pm

Lemmy Caution wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:50 pm
Full disclosure: Kazakhstan is in my travel queue and was probably scheduled for October 2021 and still could be depending how things shake out with the virus. But more likely 2022 at this point.
Kazakhstan is a great country and very cheap. Hopefully you can go.

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Re: Very Nice!

#67 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:03 pm

Lemmy Caution wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:50 pm
Kazakhstan decides not to fight Borat this time. Instead getting in on the joke to an extent.
Funny, just the other day I was thinking that Kazakhstan should invite Sasha Baron Cohen to host a Kazakh travel program, highlighting genuine stuff to do and see in the country. People would be interested and it'd be some nice payback for the harm he's caused to the country's reputation. And hopefully it would boost tourism there.
My understanding is that, after an initially angry reaction following the first film, the country changed their stance rather quickly in welcoming the attention and increased tourism, etc. that came with Borat's exposure, so maintaining that stance over a decade later doesn't seem strange

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#68 Post by MichaelB » Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:40 am

And of course the more people become familiar with Kazakhstan, the more they’ll realise that it looks nothing like the version depicted in the Borat films, and neither does Borat look or sound even the tiniest bit Kazakh (an observation made by ordinary Kazakhs by way of explanation of why they weren’t anything like as offended as their government thought they should be).

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#69 Post by swo17 » Wed Oct 28, 2020 5:08 am

About as accurate as Mickey Rooney playing an Asian man, yes?

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#70 Post by TheKieslowskiHaze » Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:46 am

MichaelB wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:40 am
And of course the more people become familiar with Kazakhstan, the more they’ll realise that it looks nothing like the version depicted in the Borat films, and neither does Borat look or sound even the tiniest bit Kazakh (an observation made by ordinary Kazakhs by way of explanation of why they weren’t anything like as offended as their government thought they should be).
As I understand it, this is part of the first movie's joke on us (Americans), too ignorant about other countries to really understand where Borat came from. He could act in totally strange ways, and his American targets would just assume he was weird because he was foreign.

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#71 Post by knives » Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:59 am

The character predates the movie so the joke is also on members of the UK. I once read that Borat was based on an Armenian taxi driver, but SBC though Kazakhstan sounded funnier so chose that as Borat’s nation.

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#72 Post by MichaelB » Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:53 am

TheKieslowskiHaze wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:46 am
As I understand it, this is part of the first movie's joke on us (Americans), too ignorant about other countries to really understand where Borat came from. He could act in totally strange ways, and his American targets would just assume he was weird because he was foreign.
That's exactly why he picked it. It had to be a real country, because a made-up one would be too easily rumbled, and Kazakhstan was perfect because of near-total ignorance about it outside central Asia - as Knives said, Borat first started life on British TV, and I suspect one of the reasons he relocated to the US for the first film was that he'd become a little too famous in SBC's native country.

(Although, that said, a lot of the original Borat material was filmed in the US, albeit intended for British consumption - I suspect SBC calculated that Americans would be more likely to be polite and accommodating towards even the most outrageous behaviour, provided it could be explained away as being "foreign". I'm not convinced that that formula would work quite as well in Britain.)

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#73 Post by Nasir007 » Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:01 pm

swo17 wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 5:08 am
About as accurate as Mickey Rooney playing an Asian man, yes?
Interesting that you mention that. This has been bothering me for some time now - but it seems this is yet another hypocritical exception we have made for racism.

Emma Stone was excoriated for playing a part Asian woman. Yet Cohen here is playing an Asian man to critical acclaim. When do we call his depiction racist?

Is there any other context where Hollywood would be okay with casting a non-Asian person in an Asian role? Or a non-black person in a black role? Or even for that matter a cis-gender person in a trans role as Scarlett Johansson recently found out. (Even satire like SNL gets the race of the actors right I think in almost all cases).

And yet it seems everyone has put their blinders on to Cohen's racism for a single reason yet again right? He gets a pass because he's against trump and the gop.

I asked this question in my "review" of the film - why not go after institutions that the movie's audience reveres - the DNC, Hollywood, media etc.? because they would have shut him down with accusations of racism and cultural appropriation. But Cohen cannily insured himself against such charges by being anti-trump and anti-gop.

Seems like a repeated pattern in our culture these days. All sins and transgressions are forgiven if you are against trump and the gop. Homophobia (Joy Reid) is forgiven. Blackface (Jimmy Kimmel) is forgiven. And now Cultural Appropriation (Cohen) is forgiven.

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#74 Post by knives » Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:17 pm

He’s clearly not playing an Asian man. The character is clearly supposed to be a generic eastern bloc foreigner who is vaguely Russian.

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Re: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Jason Woliner, 2020)

#75 Post by aox » Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:43 pm

Nasir007 wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:01 pm

Interesting that you mention that. This has been bothering me for some time now - but it seems this is yet another hypocritical exception we have made for racism.

Emma Stone was excoriated for playing a part Asian woman. Yet Cohen here is playing an Asian man to critical acclaim. When do we call his depiction racist?
It's because he isn't playing an Asian man. He is playing a citizen of Kazakhstan. Depending on the individual state's primary industrial importance to the Kremlin, the USSR sent citizens from all over their borders to populate Kazakhstan. In this case, I believe it was for their oil dependence. Kazakhstan was also the destination for many undesirables. This lead to many Eastern Europeans, Ukrainians, and Russians being settled in Kazakhstan. 100,000 Ukrainians alone were deported to Kazakhstan. The character of Borat is most likely the child or grandson of these people.

Kazakhstan also became the hellish wasteland that the USSR tested their atomic weapons, but perhaps that is off topic.

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