Thursday, November 09, 2006

Would the real "Borat" please stand up?

It looks like Sasha Baron Cohen's comic creation "Borat" is getting into a bit more hot water, as now a Turk is coming forward. This time, instead of threatening Cohen and his mother, the man is claiming that "Borat" is based on him. In fact, Mahir Cagri feels that the similarities are strong enough that he is considering legal action against Cohen.

Let me get this right. The majority of Kazakhstan wants to slam and ridicule "Borat" because they are offended by the way that their nation is being portrayed. They're concerned that their global image will be damaged, obviously casting themselves as a nation that people had ever heard of before "Borat" was released. And now we have Mahir Cagri who wants to slam and ridicule "Borat" not because of how the character was portrayed, but because the character was a little too close for comfort.

Of course, Cagri doesn't actually feel that Borat is a good impersonation. He simply feels that the groundwork for the character comes from himself, and his web-site. What he seems to be forgetting is that Borat, as a character, is an amalgamation of multiple different people and views, and, as all good comedy can, takes a social commentary angle. Yes, Borat is a backwards reporter from Kazakhstan with incredibly out of touch views. But that just makes the skewering of people who have slightly less extreme versions of those views that much more effective.

Maybe that's what Cagri is complaining about, and maybe that's why he's hoping to put together a film of his own to show the "real him". Perhaps Cagri uses his own talents to point out some of the social injustices facing the world.

Or, just maybe, Cagri is deluded into thinking that Borat is based on him at all. Maybe he simply lost touch and doesn't realize that claiming a extremely dysfunctional, racist, sexist character is based on him is not the best way to go about developing a positive following. Or maybe he spent too much time hiding his head to realize that some nations, not including Kazakhstan or the USA, still understand the concept of satire and social commentary.

I say let the movie be made. It will either reinforce the messages of "Borat", or it will serve to be the audio-visual putdown that Kazakhstan has been looking for.

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