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Nov 05

Borat

I haven’t seen Borat, and based on the reviews, I’m not going to, at least in a theater. I’m sure other people will enjoy it heartily, and I don’t think less of them for that; movies that show how professional comedians can mercilessly manipulate and abuse regular people just isn’t my thing.

“But wait – these regular people did it to themselves.” I hear you cry. But the fact is, we’re only seeing Mr. Cohen’s take on the events. How much film did he leave on the cutting room floor because people weren’t willing to go along with his schtick? How were the scenes edited – what did Cohen twist or reorder in order to make people seem more stupid.

Lastly, put yourself in these scenes. You’re trying to be accomodating to a foreign visitor, trying to be polite and pleasant, trying to tolerate his differences. He says something really strange and offensive, and you struggle, becuase you don’t want to be an asshole. Or maybe you thought you misheard him. So you say something stupid, or you find yourself nodding your head. And bam, you’re a yokel on TV, proof to the world that Americans are ignorant racist shits.

Yes, there are ignorant, racist American shits out there. But there is also an artist who is creating the story he wants to tell.

In reading the reviews, I was struck by one thing in particular – the difference in Kurt Loder’s review and at least two others – Creative Loafing and the San Jose Mercury News.

Compare this excerpt from Creative Loafing:

and a gun store owner gladly offers suggestions when Borat asks him which weapon is best for killing Jews

And the Mercury News:

When Borat pays a visit to a gun store in the South, he asks the man behind the counter what kind of weapon he would recommend for shooting Jews. Without hesitating, the salesman suggests a Glock automatic.

With Mr Loader’s review:

In one scene, Borat goes into a gun store and asks the mild-mannered clerk, “What is the best gun to defend against a Jew?” We can see the man hesitate for moment — wondering, perhaps, if he’s really understood the question being posed in Borat’s thick accent. Then, going along, he says, “Well, I’d recommend a nine-millimeter ….” As edited, the clear implication of this exchange is that the clerk is a typical red-state anti-Semite, possibly a violent one. But the man doesn’t give off that kind of vibe at all, and sucker-punching him in this way seems grossly unfair.

Did these people watch the same movie?

Update:

Jane Galt feels much the same as I do.

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