July 5, 2022

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RACISM DISGUISED AS SATIRIC HUMOR IS NO LAUGHING MATTER

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ELLA KELLEHER WRITESSacha Baron Cohen’s sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Supply of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Profit As soon as Wonderful Nation of Kazakhstan (2020), has sparked outrage and controversy among the many Kazakh group on-line, which argues that the film promotes an unpleasant portrayal of its native nation. The mockumentary, directed by Jason Woliner and launched final Friday on Amazon Prime, garnered greater than “100,000 folks [who] signed an internet petition to cancel the movie,” creating the #CancelBorat motion on varied social media platforms. Shortly after, a brand new hashtag was born: #WeAreNotYourJoke, promoted by outstanding Kazakh social media figures, which then sparked heated reactions on Instagram, Twitter, and Fb.

Why all of the outrage? To start out, Cohen’s PR group created pretend Instagram and Twitter accounts wherein customers impersonated the Kazakh authorities earlier than the discharge of the sequel. Tweets ranged from insults of U.S. officers like Vice President Mike Pence to aggressive slandering of Uzbekistan, which borders Kazakhstan and shares the identical ethnic Turkic ancestry. Here’s an example of one of their tweets:

For sure, the Kazakh folks have had sufficient of Cohen’s so-called ‘comedic satire.’ The press workplace of the Kazakh prime minister, Askar Mamin, denied the legitimacy of the Twitter account however the Kazakh authorities has refused to make any official feedback concerning the sequel after doing so with launch of the primary Borat movie in 2006.  This silence is exactly why the Kazakh group has determined to share grievances on-line and clarify the personally dangerous nature of each of Cohen’s movies.

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Right here’s what some Kazakhs needed to say in a viral Instagram put up created by Kazakh artist Erden Zikibay, which was listed beneath the hashtag #WeAreNotYourJoke:

Picture Credit score: Albina Zhakan
  • “[She said] that’s not an actual place… that’s that pretend nation from the film Borat.”
  • “My little daughter was seven years previous when the primary [Borat] film got here out, and he or she was severely bullied in school due to this movie.”
  • “[He said] to me, ‘ I didn’t anticipate a fairly Asian woman [to] stroll [in] and say she’s from Kazakhstan.”
  • “[Men would ask] are all Kazakh girls prostitutes?”Kazakh girls face the worst Borat-derived abuse. As well-known Kazakh filmmaker Gia Noortas explains in a podcast, “[she] feels as if she’s[being cornered by a bunch of bullies and they are telling [her] to take pleasure in it.” Different Kazakh girls recall how they had been “handled because the sluttish nitwits of Borat’s entourage.” The hour-long podcast options each Kazakh and Western contributors who declare harassment as a result of Cohen’s Borat movies.

Though Cohen claims he selected Kazakhstan randomly, to mock the present American authorities and its supporters, the actual fact stays that many foreigners proceed to chortle and mock the Kazakhs and consider that each Borat movies replicate actuality. Keep in mind, although, that the Republic of Kazakhstan is lower than 30 years previous and has suffered from a slightly bitter and tragic colonial previous; Russia has occupied Kazakh territory for the reason that mid-19th century, forcing its residents to talk Russian and undertake Russified surnames. In consequence, Kazakhstan stays a near-complete enigma to the West, making it a straightforward goal for Western filmmakers like Cohen.

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The unique Borat (2006) and its sequel whitewash the picture of ethnic Kazakhs, making them seem as if they’re all Russian-speaking Japanese Europeans. Really, ethnic Kazakhs are indigenous Central Asians who primarily converse their very own native tongue, Kazakh. The sequel additionally promotes varied pretend cultural customs and traditions, such because the ‘fertility dance,’ wherein Borat Sagdiyev’s daughter exposes her genitals earlier than a Western viewers, implying that such practices are frequent in Kazakhstan. Basically, the movie erases the precise tradition and traditions of the Kazakh folks, changing them with offensive, sexist ones.

Amazingly, Cohen insists that he’s attempting to focus on prejudice. He even has a marketing campaign known as #StopHateForProfit. British journalist Edward Lucas of The Occasions, although, writes that, “[it] is simple for [Sacha Baron Cohen] to say this from his vastly privileged place. Kazakhs are defenseless. Most outsiders would battle to search out their nation [on a map].”

What’s extra, there are ideological similarities between Cohen’s portrayal of ethnic Kazakhs and the horrific historical past of minstrel exhibits, a racist American type of leisure popularized within the early 19th century. These exhibits capitalized on the American folks’s racist impressions of African Individuals by accentuating cultural myths, with performers showing in blackface. Minstrel exhibits, after all, stemmed from slavery.

Lastly, one of many foundational parts of the Borat Sagdiyev character is overt anti-Semitism, which makes Westerners assume that Kazakhstan is an anti-Semitic nation with a historical past of persecuting Jews. That is removed from the reality.

Is the brand new “Borat” film humorous? To many, sure. However perhaps within the not-so-distant future, we are going to look again on each such Cohen movies and surprise why there was no more outrage over the misrepresentation of Kazakh folks.

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