Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian, Luenell, Pamela Anderson Director: Larry Charles
Preface Objectivism considers a given work of art as a concretization of the artist's metaphysical value judgments. Ayn Rand considered good art as fuel for the human spirit. By contrast, bad art drains the spirit of those who consume it. In his book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff cites three broad standards by w... (See the whole review)
Jordan, did you read what bullshit those complaints and lawsuits were?
That's besides the point. What I object to is the manner in which Cohen got the participant's permission to be in the movie.
Jordan, have you actually seen the movie to say this?
No. However, I've watched Da Ali G show several times (Borat was a character on the show). Also, I've read several news pieces regarding this; most notably an interview with Cohen in The Rolling Stone.
* Rowe told Salon that he'd agreed to let Borat sing, believing the story that Borat was a Kazakh journalist traveling across the country.
* Streit contends that the production company that set-up her meetings with Borat put into writing that the session would "be filmed as part of a documentary for Belarus Television and for those purposes only."
* Linda Stein, Grace Welch and Carole De Saram were told by producers that they would be appearing in a documentary to help women in Third World countries
* When Borat arrived, "they kept him away from most people in the dealership. I had no idea who he was. I just thought he didn't know anything about this country."
* We were gotten. Our folks researched the production company, which has its own Web site and sounds legitimate.
* Dharma Arthur, the woman responsible for booking Borat on the show, says she lost her livelihood because of the incident.
* "I had a funny feeling at first," Walker continues. "But some woman called and seemed nice and convincing, and she sent me stuff on some official-looking letterhead. Then when Borat came, all hell broke loose."
* The villagers were told that the filming was for a documentary about their hardship
So, Cohen and company went to great lengths to deceive people. The deception wouldn't be too harmful if this was a simple candid camera type of thing. But, Borat sets out to humiliate these people. I believe that most of the people in the film would not have given their permission if they knew the true nature of the film. It's this combination of deception and humiliation that I find offensive and immoral.
Shows such as Candid Camera and Taxicab Confessions get releases after the gag has been revealed. This is the moral thing to do. Participants are not being duped into giving permission. Cohen turns this around.
Deception, perhaps, but humiliation? Can you give an example how those people are humiliated?
The clips I've seen personally:
* The scene with the Southern Dining Society. He insults several women at the table.
* The people of the town in Kazakhstan. The people are made to look like backwards imbeciles.
Things I've gleaned from the media:
* The two (apparently racist) frat guys. These two guys never intended to be put up for ridicule in the United States. I'm not defending what they said, but had they known what Cohen was doing, they would not have consented.
* According to the Salon article, Jim Sell is made to appear to arrange for Borat to buy a used ice cream truck, the purpose of which is as a "pussy magnet" (with allusions to pedophilia).
* Cohen/Borat's antics at WAPT TV cost one person their job.
Jordan, I don't know what you are talking about because I don't see that car dealer or "Southern Dining Society" people were humiliated by Borat at all. They all came out as very tolerant, polite, and dignified sort of folks despite Borat's outrageous provocation. So are the most real people in the movie. As for those who came out in some sort of negative light like those frat boys, they were not humiliated by Baron Cohen. They humiliated themselves.
I largely agree with Andre and Phil's view on this movie. I think Baron Cohen is first and foremost a comedian. He is trying to create some sort of outrageous situation to get laughs mainly. As Phil pointed out, the outcomes from those situations are unpredictable and thus the humors are uneven. And yes, there are something that's a bit frightening got revealed in the show. I am not particularly fond of this kind of crude comedy, which is too over the top for me. But it is extremely funny and I groaned, snorted, and laughed.
As for those who came out in some sort of negative light like those frat boys, they were not humiliated by Baron Cohen. They humiliated themselves.
I would only agree with this if they knew the context in which they were being filmed. If you catch me out of context, I could easily humiliate myself (as could most people). I've seen Da Ali G show several times. Cohen, while very funny, is a manipulative bully.
BTW - I have no problem with this category of humor. I loved the South Park movie, Team America, Beavis and Butthead, et al.
I sanctioned all of Jordan's posts in this thread and agree with his analysis. He hits the target in spite of the fact that he has not seen the film. I have seen it and he hits the mark in identifying its fraudulent flaws.
You can dislike the movie all you want, it's perfectly fine. Ali G and Borat ARE extremely unpleasant characters. But I think blaming Baron Cohen for things that are one's own doing is a big stretch. Take that TV station woman as example. She got fired and blamed Baron Cohen for it and you just believed her word? What does her former employer have to say about this?
I also don't understand the logic behind the frat boys' law suit. They said those stupid things in the film because they had thought Borat was real? No, they said it because of who they are.
I'll leave the legality of Baron Cohen's tactics out since I don't know nearly enough to make the judgement.
I haven't seen the movie either, but to judge from what people are saying about it, it's in a long tradition of appealing to people by telling them they're better than somebody else, specifically by playing to their class bigotry. Garry Trudeau, John Kenneth Galbraith, Frank Zappa, Michael Moore and various bumper-sticker manufacturers have made good money this way, and Democratic presidential candidates since Adlai Stevenson have run on it, occasionally winning and never getting less than a third of the popular vote. John Kerry recently and George McGovern not so recently embarrassed themselves by figuring that, since the people who buy this are numerous enough to float a book or a movie, they are numerous enough to elect a candidate. Anita Hill is a lady, but Paula Jones with her big hair and trailer-park accent, and the late Mary Jo Kopechne? That's what a woman's for.
Class prejudice has taken the place of racial or religious prejudice in contemporary culture. "Nigger" bad, "redneck" OK, despite the fact that one is just as maliciously-intended as the other and they both play to the same atavistic urge to feel superior. Likewise, you can't knock Judaism or any of the Asian or Americian-Indian religions, but Catholicism and the lowbrow white Protestant denominations ("holy rollers") are fair game, drawing their members as they do from the lower orders.
Both you, Luke, and that author are acting like a bunch of fuddy duddy grandmoms.
Who in hell sanctioned Kurt's post?
1. Do you sanction fraud -- yes or no? 2. Do you approve malevolent public humiliation of people under false pretenses -- yes or no? 3. Do you support robbing people of their valuable time using deceptive methods -- yes or no?
I will actually take the derogatory term "fuddy duddy grandmom" as a compliment given that the dictionary defines "fuddy duddy" as "one that is old-fashioned, unimaginative, or conservative." Certainly my "old-fashioned, ... conservative" parents and grandparents rightly showed no tolerance for fibbing when they raised me. Cohen arguably deserves a Singapore style caning for his vicious lies.
I have to agree with Jordan and Luke and the other "fuddy duddy grandmoms" on this thread. When I first saw the trailer for the movie, with the scene at the dinner table and Borat making fun of the woman, I laughed out loud. Then I found out how the movie was made and I didn't think it was funny anymore. I thought it was done with actors; I didn't realize that it was the same format as his TV show. I won't go see the movie. It blurs the boundaries between fiction and reality too much. Seeing someone really slipping on a banana peel isn't funny to me.
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