Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Borat: Ridicule or Reality?

Having recently seen the new Borat film, it is all too obvious, for me at least, to be stirred by the level of degradation that American society receives during the 76 minutes of this film.

Anyone with a nose for post-modernism will feel the same way. Also, having read a portion of Imbd’s comments on it, I discovered a certain unstable balance between people who laughed their guts out and people who spewed their guts out.

I, honestly, cannot perceive the movie as being hilarious because having come from a Eastern-European country, I am thoroughly used to this kind of crude, explicit and often simplistic humour.
Watching Cohen’s performance which was partly improvisational cannot in any way make up for the lack of subtlety in terms of humour. He is a competent actor but not a brilliant one.

Coming back to the theme of the American atrocity exhibition which pervades the length of the movie, I personally find the sub-text of the different scenes very serious indeed, though masked with a smack of obtuse ridicule.
The scene where Borat is destroying some of the objects perceived as the ‘heritage’ of America in the shop, symbolises that in fact, what is this heritage anyway?
Merely a porcelain rendition of valueless bunch of objects?
This is what Borat does throughout the movie. His initial innocence suddenly bursts out into squalor which is evidently made to appear shocking and controversial so as to draw the ‘blind’ audience which happens to be the great majority of the Western population. Therefore, the individual scenes are constructed in microscopic case studies which, on a deeper level, present a derogatory image of Western society on a far grander, macroscopic scale.

What could perhaps be found funny to some extent in the film, is American people’s actual lack of grasp of other cultures although the idea of a multi-cultural society is in fact constantly reinforced throughout the Western world, which in-turn makes people to wrongly believe they know something about foreign cultures when in reality, they are totally clueless.

Also, it is interesting to find just how astonished Americans are when confronted by the ‘concepts’ of conspicuous sexism, polygamy, anti-Semitism etc. They are generally stunned to find that it is actually widely practiced in other countries which again, points out their one-sided perspective on the wider world and their unawareness of the fact that these illegalities are strongly existent in other parts of the globe.

For all you fans of existentialism, I would not directly recommend this movie because taking away the satire and ridicule, you are left with a cinematic production with no more substance than an average porn film.
It’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen (that special place is actually reserved for Bad Boys II) and it’s surely not as idiotic as it may seem but it addresses issues which are so deeply knifed into society that you come to realise that mere ridiculing is simply a needle in a giant’s foot.
It might not make you laugh but the worst part is that it would leave you empty and cold and it would hardly be registered in your long-term memory.
It would not in any way touch your heart or soul as much as it may trigger an uncomfortable feeling in the reality that’s between your legs, which is putting yourself in Borat’s frame of mind.

The fact that it’s been so massively successful is just another indication of the tasteless American culture which is rightly made fun of in the movie itself. This success alone can be viewed as a self-fulfilling prophecy because the movie brings together the harsh reality of life in Kazakhstan with the concealed-behind-Vegas-lights reality of Western society.
Certainly, you can draw a mass of parallels between the two. The movie serves as a virtual rendezvous and perhaps, it is definitely reaching for a unification which in the end, is far from hilarious exactly as much as Kazakhstan is geographically remote from the United States.

1 Comments:

At 28 November 2006 at 22:44 , Blogger ¡Benjaminista! said...

While the movie is certainly tasteless, I think of its success as a positive reflection of the culture. Much of the movie is admittedly bottom-of-the-barrel humour, but there's enough social commentary mixed in to make it literally subversive. The cheap laughs draw the people in for sure, but it's such people who are the real subject of the joke.

 

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