Matthew R. Perrine: 'Borat' is putting Kazakhstan on the map (in bigger letters, so people remember it's there)
Being for the benefit of everyone and their parents' children, today's lesson is "Marketing is the name of the game." Look what it did for Borat Sagdiyev, one of English comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's three characters on HBO's "Da Ali G Show" -- a ...
Being for the benefit of everyone and their parents' children, today's lesson is "Marketing is the name of the game."
Look what it did for Borat Sagdiyev, one of English comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's three characters on HBO's "Da Ali G Show" -- a show that could have almost been considered underground because it was so unwatched (until recently).
And, to be perfectly honest, that beloved anti-Semitic television reporter from Kazakhstan wasn't even the most prominent character on the show.
While Borat and "flamboyant" Austrian fashionista Bruno were given equal time, they were both eclipsed by the show's namesake, an ignorant b-boy with an impeccable mastery of the art of interviewing.
Of course, all that changed when Twentieth Century Fox agreed to bring Borat's "story" to the silver screen. Although "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" wasn't screened in the Twin Ports its opening week, it somehow managed to become the No. 1 movie in America.*
In case you haven't seen the film or the HBO show, Cohen uses his characters as a vehicle to interview unsuspecting persons (prey, basically) and solicit outrageous responses by playing with the boundaries of normal social conduct -- all in the name of "cultural differences," mind you.
Unfortunately for America, those techniques are employed in "Borat," and our nation's most vile and hideous stereotypes are exposed.
Despite what the people of Kazakhstan (and other members of an increasingly litigious global society) believe, the joke is not on them: it's on America.
In "Borat," our nation shines with a sexist frat boy, a fanatical Jesus cult in which elected Washington politicos make whistle-stops and a Texas cowboy who is somehow homophobic, racist and xenophobic all at once.
Hopefully the film will open a lot of people's eyes, and not be just another movie to quote from ad nauseum.
We need to see our country for its societal ills.
We must conquer thickskulled heterosexuals, the attempts of some to bridge church and state and, of course, the entirety of fraternal culture.
But one film won't accomplish any of that -- even I'm not that much of a dreamer.
If nothing else, hopefully some will walk out of the theater and think, "Wow, I know entirely nothing about the world's ninth-largest country by area."
I know that's exactly what I would have thought had my family not adopted my youngest brother from the country.
The Kazakh government should be taking notes. This is something they can hold on to.
It's funny that they're so upset about Cohen's movie, because it is doing exactly the opposite of what they think it's doing: It is actually benefiting the glorious nation.
If you honestly think about it, before Borat became an international phenomenon, when was the last time you even thought about Kazakhstan?
If just a handful of the film's millions of viewers are as nerdy as me, Google and Wikipedia will be abuzz with searches for the country.
Even Cohen -- the so-called "devil" at the center of all this -- is helping push Web traffic to Kazakh sites.
His movie's official site, www.boratmovie.com , includes front-page links to Kazinform and Photoalbum.kz, two prominent Web sites from a country that is decidedly without an online presence.
But there's info out there, and, the more you read, the more you learn how fascinating my little brother's country is.
And to hear firsthand accounts of the consequences of the country declaring independence from the former Soviet Union (thanks, mom) is even more incredible.
Hey, sometimes all your knowledge tree needs to grow is a seed disguised as a mistakably offensive film about cultural differences.
Now, if only Cohen would tackle the other 200-odd deserving countries that most of us know very little about.
*I kid, but why did it take "Borat" becoming the No. 1 movie in America for it to be screened in just one of the Twin Ports' three theaters?
Matthew R. Perrine is a reporter for the Budgeteer News. He can be reached at 723-1207 or email@example.com . Or, if you're bored, check out www.areavoices.com/mperrine for good times.