Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, also known as Borat 2, the sequel to Sacha Baron Cohen's comedic masterpiece Borat, released in 2006, was just released on Amazon Prime. I can confidently say that this movie was a great success, but WOW, there is a lot to unpack.
In the sequel, we are reunited with the beloved Borat, a journalist from Kazakhstan played by Sacha Baron Cohen. Borat travels to America under Kazakhstan's prime minister's order to deliver a Monkey to Vice President Pence. The Monkey was supposed to be delivered to America in a box; however, Borat's daughter, Tutar, had snuck into the box and eaten the Monkey. So begins the journey of Borat and Tutar, mostly taking place in the South and the Midwest. With the Monkey newly dead, Borat's new mission is to have his daughter marry Mike Pence. One of the things that makes this movie so exceptional is that only the parts of Borat and Tutar are played by actors. Indeed, every other person in the film is unaware that Borat is not an actual person, but just a character. Despite this movie being a comedy and consisting mostly of gags and jokes, several important takeaways should be addressed.
Filmed and set in 2020, it is significantly focused on and relevant to the U.S.'s current political climate. Throughout the movie, Borat's character remains impartial and oblivious to politics. However, he is still able to shed light on problematic issues implicitly. The first example is when Borat attends the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, dressed as a Klu Klux Klan member. The general public was unaware that this man was indeed an actor, yet remained unphased, and Borat entered the conference, dressed as a member of the KKK, unquestioned. It's quite disturbing that a man dressed as a member of a white supremacist hate group that devotes itself to the oppression and destruction of Black people, Jewish people, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and others is seen as non-threatening at a conservative convention. This is especially problematic, considering that the convention is self-described as "the largest and most influential gathering of conservatives in the world" (CPAC 2021 official website, https://cpac.conservative.org/). Borat's character even said that he needed to wear a KKK outfit to "fit in" at the convention.
Another eye-opening movement in the movie was when at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Borat spent five days in Lakewood, Washington quarantining with two far-right QAnon conspiracy theorists. QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that claims that many well-known Democratic politicians, including Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, are a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who eat children and plot against Donald Trump. Sacha Baron Cohen, who remained in character the entire stay, claims that they are very kind people who warmly welcomed him and have been brainwashed and did not know any better despite their radical ideas. Borat attends "March For Our Rights 3," a pro-gun rally organized by a far-right group, with the two men. Borat dresses up like a hillbilly and sings a song he wrote with his roommates called "The Wuhan Flu" with lyrics like "Inject Obama with the Wuhan flu" to an unmasked crowd (the event took place in June, well into the pandemic).
Another element of the movie that stands out is Borat's excessive use of antisemitic rhetoric. Borat enters a bakery in South Carolina and orders a cake with "Jews will not replace us" written on it as a 'gift' for Mike Pence. The baker, surprisingly, followed through in making the cake without questioning it. Additionally, when Tutar finally understands how to use Facebook, she claims that The Holocaust never happened. The incident sheds light on the dangers of misinformation being spread on Facebook, and it is clear that Tutar ended up on pages of Holocaust deniers.
Another critical example is Borat saying that he will die because he's "expecting the next mass shooting" when he goes to a synagogue. Here, Baron Cohen is spreading awareness of the problem of Jews being targets of mass shootings, notably the Tree Of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh two years ago. Borat wears an 8-inch nose, a cartoon sack of money, and a puppet with a sign reading "MEDIA." to ridicule antisemitic tropes. At the synagogue, Borat meets two Holocaust survivors who are kind and empathetic towards him. Meeting with these women allows him to realize they "aren't so bad after all." The irony of the antisemitic comments made throughout the movie is that the foreign language that is often spoken between Borat and Tutar throughout the film is Kazakhstan's language; however, if you listen carefully, they are speaking Hebrew.
Finally, arguably the most controversial moment in the movie was the interview Tutar, disguised as an attractive young journalist, had with Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City and Donald Trump's current attorney. At this point in the movie, Borat had given up on his plans to have Tutar marry Mike Pence and instead planned on having her wed Rudy Giuliani. Previously in the film, Borat had arranged for Tutar to receive breast implants because Giuliani had once stated that he preferred women with "large breasts." This reflects older men in power, often saying inappropriate comments regarding women, which they seem to get away with. During the interview, Giuliani is seen touching Tutar's thigh inappropriately and proceeds to follow her into her hotel room where he lies down on the bed and appears to be removing his pants and beginning to touch himself; however, before the situation can escalate further, Borat rushes in and immediately stops him claiming "She is 15! She is too old for you". This scene is probably the most important because it shows precisely how easy it is for white older men in power to take advantage of young, impressionable women. Giuliani is most certainly not the only person; there are a number of sexual assault allegations against men in similar positions as him, most notably our very own President Donald Trump.
Borat's character is not inherently hateful; rather he is naive and uneducated. Sacha Baron Cohen uses Borat to reveal the inner prejudices within people and shed light on current issues that sometimes are not addressed. Overall, this movie had an essential balance of humor, lessons, and character development.
Julia Daitz is a BBG from Manhattan Region and loves to play guitar, write articles, Taylor Swift, and keeping up with current events!
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