Tag Archives: comedy

Sacha Baron Cohen comes clean about Borat in Rolling Stone magazine

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

borat rolling stoneThe latest issue of Rolling Stone includes an interview with Sacha Baron Cohen — the only interview he’s done out of character. It’s our first time hearing — in his own words — what he was trying to accomplish with Borat. Here are some excerpts from the partial story they’ve posted online here:

When Baron Cohen first heard that the Kazakh government was thinking of suing him and placing a full-page ad promoting the country in The New York Times, he was editing his movie in Los Angeles. His reaction: “I was surprised, because I always had faith in the audience that they would realize that this was a fictitious country and the mere purpose of it was to allow people to bring out their own prejudices. And the reason we chose Kazakhstan was because it was a country that no one had heard anything about, so we could essentially play on stereotypes they might have about this ex-Soviet backwater. The joke is not on Kazakhstan. I think the joke is on people who can believe that the Kazakhstan that I describe can exist — who believe that there’s a country where homosexuals wear blue hats and the women live in cages and they drink fermented horse urine and the age of consent has been raised to nine years old.”…

“I think part of the movie shows the absurdity of holding any form of racial prejudice, whether it’s hatred of African-Americans or of Jews,” Baron Cohen says…

“Borat essentially works as a tool,” Baron Cohen says. “By himself being anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their own prejudice, whether it’s anti-Semitism or an acceptance of anti-Semitism. ‘Throw the Jew Down the Well’ [a song performed at a country & western bar during Da Ali G Show] was a very controversial sketch, and some members of the Jewish community thought that it was actually going to encourage anti-Semitism. But to me it revealed something about that bar in Tucson. And the question is: Did it reveal that they were anti-Semitic? Perhaps. But maybe it just revealed that they were indifferent to anti-Semitism.

“I remember, when I was in university I studied history, and there was this one major historian of the Third Reich, Ian Kershaw. And his quote was, ‘The path to Auschwitz was paved with indifference.’ I know it’s not very funny being a comedian talking about the Holocaust, but I think it’s an interesting idea that not everyone in Germany had to be a raving anti-Semite. They just had to be apathetic.”…

The Office: are you on Team Karen or Team Pam?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

the office team pam team karen t-shirtsHehe… The Best Week Ever blog is fanning the flames of a war between The Office fans who want Jim to get with Pam, and those who want him to get with Karen (played by Rashida Jones). You can even buy a T-shirt to declare your allegiance!

Now that the midterm elections are over it’s time to start making some very serious decisions. Namely, who are you rooting for Jim from The Office to get with: Pam or Karen?

Lindsay Robertson and Claire Zulkey have chosen sides (Lindsay = Pam, Claire = Karen) and have posed arguments on each others’ blogs. They’ve even made T-shirts. We already know which one we’re ordering… Sorry Pam.

I have to say, The Office is probably one of the smartest shows on TV right now in terms of the way they handle race. All those painfully awkward moments… and I absolutely adore that ditzy Kelly, a character who would probably traditionally have been a dumb blonde, is played by the brilliant (and desi) Mindy Kaling. Take that, model minority myth!

I’m also curious to see how the race thing is going to work out with Rashida Jones’ character. Like, is she basically playing white in this role? Or will she turn out to be black and/or mixed?

Borat: just plain funny? or racist and xenophobic?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

boratQuite a few of you have brought up the upcoming movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan to us lately. I’ve watched the Ali G Show on HBO and am familiar with the character, but to be honest I don’t know a whole lot about the premise of the movie.

So I thought I’d make this an open thread and pose a question to all of you. What do you think of the Borat movie? Is it just silly and funny? Or do you think Sacha Baron Cohen is tapping into a racist and/or xenophobic vein in the United States?

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