The date is Nov. 3, 2006. A mockumentary titled “Borat” is released in theaters, shining a shocking light on the underbelly of American society through the socially ignorant eyes of Kazakhstan’s #4 reporter, Borat Sagdiyev.
In the film, Borat’s mission is to interact with many walks of life to learn about America and bring some of the culture back to Kazakhstan. However, he catches wind of celebrity Pamela Anderson and goes on a road trip to California from New York City to learn even more about the American people, and eventually marry Anderson.
Flash forward 14 years later to two Fridays ago when “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” was released.
In this long-awaited sequel, Borat returns to the United States in an attempt to give his daughter to Vice President Mike Pence so Kazakhstan will gain favor from the U.S., and so he doesn’t get executed. Ridiculous, right?
As crazy as the movies sound, they have some of the best satire of American culture that I have seen in film. What makes “Borat” and its sequel so special is that there are only two actors throughout the movies.
British comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen, plays Borat, a culturally and socially ignorant reporter who constantly gets into cringe-worthy situations with seemingly random people and uses his quick thinking to not only make himself look dumb, but make the person he’s talking to look as ridiculous.
His supporting actor in the first film is his somewhat timid producer Azamat Bagatov who is played by Ken Davitian, and in the second film his adventurous daughter Tutar Sagdiyev is played by Maria Bakalova.
Sacha never broke character as Borat, he made everyone think he was some dumb guy making a movie that no one would watch. Even when police pulled him over for “looking suspicious,” Sacha never broke character.
It takes extreme talent to not only make people let their guard down and say some ridiculously heinous things, on camera no less, but he also tricked an entire Romanian village into thinking he was shooting a documentary instead of a comedy satire.
This village being where Borat comes from was made fun of in the most ridiculous ways possible, which eventually led to the entire country of Kazakhstan completely disavowing everything Borat did on-screen.
That’s pretty ironic since he never stepped foot in Kazakhstan throughout the film.
Anyway, this isn’t necessarily a review of the movies, but how both movies use American culture as a chaotically beautiful satire.
The first movie is much less political than the second; it was more of a societal satire than anything. Sacha, or Borat in this case, went to various places where bigotry and racism were prevalent.
The best example I can give is when he went to a rodeo and sung a fictional Kazakhstani National Anthem “in the tune of your [United States] National Anthem.” Obviously, this would make a lot of people angry, but the manager of the rodeo he talked to beforehand, Bobby Rowe, was practically begging him to mess it up. He said some very racist things to Borat before he went out to the crowd such as telling him to shave his moustache because he looked Muslim.
After that, Borat went out in front of the crowd (to no applause) and started hyping up the crowd with phrases like, “We support your war on terror!” and escalating to, “May George Bush drink the blood of every single man, woman and child in Iraq!” to which they applauded.
The first “Borat” does a fantastic job of satirizing American culture by showing how his ignorance pushes people’s values to the limit and turns them on their heads through his actions. It’s that very same ignorance that shows us their true colors.
As for “Borat 2,” it’s much simpler to break down. “Borat 2” tackles political movements, conspiracy theories, fake news media, and ultimately puts Rudy Giuliani in an uncomfortable situation.
However, this movie is a far cry from the first as it shows us how regular people can be legitimately good human beings even if they’re misguided.
I don’t want to say too much as you should watch the films for yourself, and it’s best just to go in blind for the second. Both movies are on Amazon Prime Video, and they are, as Borat himself would say, “Very nice!”