He returned when the world needed him most. Borat Sagdiyev, a Kazakhstani journalist brought to life by the mind of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, has made his comeback after a fourteen-year-long exile in the Kazakhstan gulags with his latest documentary Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm (the actual title would take up a lot of the word count for this article). The sequel to the beloved 2006 mockumentary sees Borat return to the United States with the task of sending a gift to mend fences between the US and Kazakhstan. That gift? At first it was a monkey, but then it became Borat’s daughter, Tutar, who Borat is attempting to offer to “Vice Premiere” Mike Pence as an underaged bride. The film follows Borat as he explores the underbelly of America as he encounters some… unique characters along the way.
At a time when the world is at uncertainty and the eyes of the world are glued to the 2020 United States Presidential Election, Borat allows us to forget about the seriousness of it all and just have a laugh. Borat is an uneducated man. He is misogynistic, racist, homophobic, antisemitic, you name it. Cohen, obviously, is not any of that. There is a fine difference between making racist or misogynistic jokes yourself, and parodying people who make racist or misogynistic jokes, and Cohen goes for the latter in all of his movies. Borat’s unfiltered, blind comments about touchy subjects allow him to get close with the people who agree with Borat’s views, but not Cohen’s views. Borat is used as a device to get the honest thoughts out of unsuspecting individuals, and whether you agree or disagree with their beliefs, it is amazing how Sacha Baron Cohen can play along with their unscripted thoughts to make amazingly entertaining content.
Sacha Baron Cohen’s shows and movies are amazing for just how much information he can get out of unsuspecting people with his silly characters. Ever since the Ali G interview days, Cohen has always been a top-class troll and his talent is to make a mockery out of serious issues. He targets hardcore Trump supporters and mingles with the racists, pro-lifers and conspiracy theorists of America. Tutar, played by breakout star Maria Bakalova, aids the cause as she speaks with sugar babies, radical feminists and “Karens”, amongst others. Both of them stoop as low as Rudy Giuliani to get enough information out of all these different people with different beliefs and it is very impressive.
Politics is always a topic that gets heavily lampooned in the media. It is a serious topic that sees different political parties go against each other with different ideas in the hope of making a change for their country, so why not take the mick out of it? Ever since the old political cartoons with clever punchlines found in newspapers since the late nineteenth century, satire has become a part of politics and can play its part in political views or elections. Starting at the beginnings of sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live, where Chevy Chase’s portrayal of then US President Gerald Ford as a bumbling klutz hampered his image and helped Jimmy Carter win the 1976 election, a lot of television shows started to connect politics with comedy, which became a hit.
Saturday Night Live’s portrayal of political figures continues to garner millions of viewers even in the present day. Alec Baldwin and Jim Carrey currently play over-the-top versions of Donald Trump and Joe Biden respectively, and while the humour is not my cup of tea, their portrayals are so well done that they seem more professional than the actual debates. South Park is another show that continually rips into politics, turning adored Mr. Garrison into a Trump clone and convincing a generation that Al Gore was some nutcase town crier who screamed about ManBearPig. The UK has recently revived Spitting Image, where puppet versions of politicians such as Boris Johnson and Vladimir Putin appear prominently. While Ireland still mostly uses the cartoon newspaper for their political satire, impressionist Mario Rosenstock brought his Irish politician impressions to The Mario Rosenstock Show on RTÉ 2 a few years ago. The current Irish government is enough of a comedy show anyway.
Politics may cause a division because of people’s differing opinions, but comedy is a great way to bring us back together and laugh at them. These shows and movies that take these big issues and squash them down into something that we do not have to take seriously are very needed in this time, and that is why Borat has come back at such an important stage. Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm is another fine piece of work by Sacha Baron Cohen that helps us relax and generate second-hand embarrassment from those unsuspecting individuals involved. We can laugh about Borat and his interactions with strangers. We can laugh about his approach to the coronavirus. A comedy is supposed to make us laugh and this movie does that in abundance. Great Success!