Of course, it plays to every stereotype about Red State America. And those USC frat boys come across as real jerks and losers. It's got this undercurrent of a leftish social critique of America. (Some of which isn't too off the mark.) And of course, everyone laughs uproariously at the humiliation of others. Kinda like Candid Camera on crack. Except Candid Camera is good humored. Borat delights in toilet-humor and sex and appeals to the inner Frat Boy in each of us. Yeah, I laughed. Loudly too.
The main quesiton I had was -- how many people were in the know? Was everyone duped? Just a few ... ? Was some of it staged?
Here's a CNN Story (hat tip Novice Brother) about the various people who were duped into making this film. I wonder what kind of skulduggery is involved in getting that release signed.
This article really made me mad, however (hat tip Michael Dubruiel):
So when a Hollywood film crew descended on a nearby run-down motel last September, with their flashy cars and expensive equipment, locals thought their lowly community might finally be getting some of the investment it so desperately needs.So it's outright deception then. And exploitation. The villagers received about§3 each! This actually really bothers me!
The crew was led by a man villagers describe as 'nice and friendly, if a bit weird and ugly', who they later learned was Baron Cohen. It is thought the producers chose the region because locals more closely resembled his comic creation than genuine Kazakhs.
The comedian insisted on travelling everywhere with bulky bodyguards, because, as one local said: 'He seemed to think there were crooks among us.'
While the rest of the crew based themselves in the motel, Baron Cohen stayed in a hotel in Sinaia, a nearby ski resort a world away from Glod's grinding poverty. He would come to the village every morning to do 'weird things', such as bringing animals inside the run-down homes, or have the village children filmed holding weapons.
Mr Tudorache, a deeply religious grandfather who lost his arm in an accident, was one of those who feels most humiliated. For one scene, a rubber sex toy in the shape of a fist was attached to the stump of his missing arm - but he had no idea what it was.
And ... I don't know that I'd ever say this ... but Christopher Hitchens actually makes sense here. "Borat meets some painfully polite Americans"
Is it too literal-minded to point out what any viewer of the movie can see for himself—that the crowd at the rodeo stops cheering quite fast when it realizes that something is amiss; that the car salesman is extremely patient about everything from demands for pussy magnets to confessions of bankruptcy; and that the man in the gun shop won't sell the Kazakh a weapon? This is "compliance"? I have to say, I didn't like the look of the elderly couple running the Confederate-memorabilia store, but considering that Borat smashes hundreds of dollars worth of their stock, they bear up pretty well—icily correct even when declining to be paid with locks of pubic hair. The only people who are flat-out rude and patronizing to our curious foreigner are the stone-faced liberal Amazons of the Veteran Feminists of America—surely natural readers of the New Statesman. Perhaps that magazine's reviewer believes that Borat is genuinely shocked when he finds—by video viewing—that Pamela Anderson has not been faithful to him and he will thus not be the first to "make romance-explosion on her stomitch." (And either the love goddess agreed to stage the moment when Mr. Sagdiyev tries to stuff her into a "wedding bag," or she and her security team displayed a rare indulgence to the mustachioed interloper.)The CNN story above reveals that Ms. Anderson was in the know. The only one given this luxury it seems. [snip] And this at the end ...
It's too much like Karen Hughes making nice with audiences of unsmiling Saudis, pleadingly reassuring them that the United States is not one long replay of The Running of the Muslim. But it's that attitude of painfully maintained open-mindedness and multiculturalism that is really being unmasked and satirized by our man from the 'stan. In what other country could such a character talk his way into being invited to sing the national anthem at a rodeo—where the horse urine is not so highly prized, and where horse excrement, and indeed all excrement, is still a term of abuse?He's got a point. This simply wouldn't work in India. Unless you paid everyone off. A lot. Beforehand.
So, in the end ... everyone who is now being laughed at by gazillions of movie-goers across the land (I actually feel sorry for those poor USC frat boys!) was deceived into making this movie. [Some -- the Romanian village -- were rather callously (I don't think that's strong enough) exploited]. Except the wealthy Hollywood porn star and sex symbol.
Talk about twisted.
I wish I hadn't spent $9.50. Or laughed as hard as I did.