|--Moralizing About Borat--|
One more comment on "Borat", a movie being criticized for the wrong reasons:
Deciding you will not see a movie based on third-party hearsay about whether (or not) some of the scenes were done with unwitting parties (who were supposedly taken advantage of) is silly. And wasting time debating about this side issue is equally unproductive and probably unresolvable. There are good reasons not to see a movie, but this is not one of them.
Nor is whether you entirely agree with the objects chosen to poke fun of a good reason not to watch or enjoy the cleverness of satire or parody as a literary form. If your argument is an -esthetic- one (it's not funny, poorly executed, etc.) then you are on sounder ground than if you argue that just because the parodies of Kazakhs, Southern rodeo fans, etc. are exaggerated or not entirely fair that the filmmakers are somehow despicable or immoral.
Satire, parody, and hyperbole are as old as western literature. They are -supposed to be- exaggerated and overstated*: Take a trait which actually exists and make it larger than life (or smaller than life) for effect. It's supposed to be taken out of context. It's supposed to be ridiculous and unfair. You're supposed to realize that and factor it in when you are watching or reading.
Exaggeration is valid in art because it is openly so and you are supposed to realize that it is hyperbolic or stylized. It's not a valid rebuttal to or dismissal of a satire or parody to say, "well, Kazakhs are not really that backward" or "Southerners are not always that redneck or evangelicals that fanatical" or"other countries have more anti-semitism than America or Kazakhstan". There -is- an element of backwardness, redneckism, anti-semitism, parochialism in former communist countries like the 'stans'. And, in fact, in much of the non-western world. (And in, for example, the Bible Belt and the Deep South.) And Borat (while it isn't as good later on as he moves through America) is very effective in exaggerating these things.
Don't let other factors dull or place blinders on your appreciation of that part of the movie...or, worse, other movies or literature where you fixate too negatively on one aspect you don't like. Otherwise you become like cranky Puritans. Or too quick to anger, cranky old men (from Kazakhstan or from inside Objectivism) who find everything to be a source for outrage and alienation, throw their shoes at the television, can't find even partial pleasure in any entertainment, refuse to read fiction, and across a lifespan progressively close themselves off from different cultural, cinematic, literary forms. Even the ones which are better than this (sometimes funny, sometimes not) movie.
*My own post earlier on this thread satirizing Luke's review was itself an example of this very thing. Satire and hyperbole or parody and irony (if done well, mine was only so-so) are valid ways of criticizing something, often through overstating some aspect so it stands out in sharp relief. Obviously the person being satirized isn't going to like it and will usually resent it and find -no- element of truth to it.
(Edited by Philip Coates
on 12/05, 9:35am)