Sacha Baron Cohen’s most notorious character is back with Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which is still funny, even if racism in America isn’t nearly as shocking in 2020. The film’s full title, of course, is the characteristically overwrought Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, in which the “victims” become the performers, and Borat’s “daughter” is along for the satirical ride. The film probably entertained millions of home viewers over the weekend, and of course, Rudy Giuliani isn’t a fan, but guess who’s come around? The Kazakhstan tourism board.
Through a series of four videos, it would appear that the country’s new tourism ad slogan is “Kazakhstan. Very nice!” It’s certainly an unanticipated turn of events, given that the Borat character has always received a mixed reception, since not everyone’s thrilled with the joke. Of course, it’s also understandable that not everyone in the country would be pleased that an anti-Semitic and frequently gaudy character from Kazakhstan could be construed as a representative, no matter how satirical. Times have changed.
According to the New York Times, Kairat Sadvakassov, the Kazakhstan tourism board deputy chairman, feels that Borat 2 could actually help his country during our pandemic times. “In Covid times, when tourism spending is on hold, it was good to see the country mentioned in the media,” he said. “Not in the nicest way, but it’s good to be out there. We would love to work with Cohen, or maybe even have him film here.”
Sadvakassov admitted that he did, however, feel slightly wary when the first Borat 2 trailer surfaced: “It was like, ‘Oh, again?’” At first, the tourism board was good with simply ignoring Borat’s return and “to let it die its natural death and not respond.” Such a shrug of the shoulders already would have been quite the turn of events after the authoritarian Kazakh government banned the first movie, but an intervention happened. A former U.S. exchange student, Dennis Keen, who now lives in Kazakhstan and hosts a state-television channel travel show, dug in and pitched the travel videos to the tourism board and received a yes. Then Keen and his friend, Yermek Utemissov, produced the videos on a pro bono basis, but they do look very professional. Well, as professional as one can look while cracking urine jokes.
Congrats to Sacha Baron Cohen for at least having fewer enemies as a result of this sequel. There are already enough angry parties for him to dodge.
(Via New York Times)