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» babble   » right brain babble   » culture   » Romanian Village threatens to sue Borat producers

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Author Topic: Romanian Village threatens to sue Borat producers
Catchfire
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posted 15 November 2006 10:38 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Villagers in Glod, Romanian for "mud," are threatening to sue the film's producers for paying them a pittance to stand in for a Kazahk village in the movie.

They say they are horrified and humiliated after learning the movie ridicules their abject poverty and simple ways.

The residents say filmmakers got them to put farm animals in their homes and perform other crude antics.

"We thought they came here to help us — not mock us," said Dana Luca, 40.


From the CBC

Edited to fix terrible grammar in title.

[ 15 November 2006: Message edited by: Catchfire ]


From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 15 November 2006 11:01 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The story notes that the villagers, only five of whom actually have jobs, were told that the film was a documentary. Some poor, simple people have been tricked by this hoax and made the subject of ridicule for their poverty and simple ways in Sacha Cohen's film.

Maybe Cohen can contribute some of the $67 million that his film made in the US in its first two weeks ... to help out the villagers of Glod install running water.

Added Caveat: I haven't seen the film. Yet. But I really take exception to anything that derives cheap laughs and profits from ridiculing poor people [if that's what the film does]; it's just immoral and wrong. There's no other way to describe it.

P.S. The thread title should read "Roma villagers sue/threaten to sue," etc. or something like that.

[ 15 November 2006: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]


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arborman
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posted 15 November 2006 11:29 AM      Profile for arborman     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I have seen the film, and I don't think it ridicules them all that much.

I agree that he should help develop the community. I actually thought it was a prop when I watched the movie.


From: I'm a solipsist - isn't everyone? | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Petsy
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posted 15 November 2006 12:15 PM      Profile for Petsy        Edit/Delete Post
The Borat issue was discussed last night on Steve Paikin's show "the Agenda". great panel, one of the panel members was the head of the Canadian Jewish Congress who actually brought up this matter of the Romanian village.
From: Toronto | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 15 November 2006 12:17 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
He really is pretty much an asshole.
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Michelle
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posted 15 November 2006 12:49 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Your pronoun is ambiguous.
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Sharon
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posted 15 November 2006 01:02 PM      Profile for Sharon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I haven't seen the movie -- and I can't even begin to imagine that I ever will -- so I'm sure I don't deserve to say this but ... everything I see/read/hear about it is just so damned offensive and distasteful.

Is there any socially redeeming value in this sort of thing?


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Merowe
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posted 15 November 2006 01:08 PM      Profile for Merowe     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Borat is the funniest film I have seen in years. There is a complicated genius afoot in it that is reminiscent of Monty Python's dazzling arrival on the comedy scene decades ago, which is no surprise given Mr.Cohen's Cambridge roots and presumably a turn with Footlights.

It is, of course, wildly transgressive, deeply offensive to numerous minorities and deploys an irony that risks collapsing upon itself catastrophically - I remarked this when I found myself humming 'throw the Jew down the well' as I walked down the road - undeniably infectious melody - before pausing in alarm.

Mr.Cohen is highly manipulative and preys upon a swathe of stereotypical figures whose humiliation we delight in even as we squirm in acute discomfort.

No doubt he will be perceived as genuinely dangerous by certain elements and I fear for his physical safety; and I have to say, he shows an incredible amount of personal courage, or perhaps it is simply arrogance, it is rather hard to tell.

Therein lies his genius.

I'd also comment that his parody of the awkward foreigner is at least subtle and well-observed, when compared to for example Steve Allen's 'wild and crazy' Polish guy on Saturday Night Live from some years back. For all Borat's crassness there is real art there.

I think he does some very serious consciousness-raising as well, for instance in his highlighting of western cultural taboos around male-male contact, etc.

Sasha Cohen has carved an entirely new territory for himself and should be recognized for that.

If most of the Romanian village that served as a 'Borat' location was 'unemployed' - though it appears to be an active farming community - then whatever pittance they were compensated is still gravy to them, surely. Such western constructions as he maps upon them reflect more upon us the intended audience than upon his gently deceived extras.

I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to bounce a little more geld their way, for all that. But it's hardly relevant.


From: Dresden, Germany | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Catchfire
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posted 15 November 2006 01:21 PM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Borat does have some clever sections where he exposes, like you say, the cultural allergy to male-male contact, or the systematic racism/misogyny of Western society just waiting for a chance to surface. None of it's genius, though. In fact, most of it is simply slapstick. The culturally poignant instances are few and far between.

The critical problem, of course, is he does it with a racist cariacture of an Arab. It's no good to demonstrate the sickness of a hegemonic culture when you satisfy the racist impulses of it by mocking the perennial target of that culture. What's ingenius about parading a backwards, arab primitive across America when you never (or rarely, in fact, only once) expose the danger or absurdity of America's prejudice against Arabs? There's a lot of mocking anti-semitism when Jews are around, but virtually none when the target is Arabs. Why is blackface so reviled, yet this racist parody is allowed to stand?

Consider the movie's precedents: The Office, which is seminal in its depiction of cringe-worthy comedy, employs a flawless satire of middle-management to expose the racism, misogyny and anti-disabled bias of white-collar capitalism (sound familiar?). Yet, the picture would be very different if the black worker on the show was the parody, and everyone else the "straight man."

Borat is racist. And forgettably funny when it's funny at all. Genius, it ain't.


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Cueball
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posted 15 November 2006 02:02 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Khazak's aint Arabs.

But this is not defend Cohen, but merely to highlight the dangerous murk one gets into when making parodies of little understood cultures, and the ramifications, and misunderstandings that can arise, especially in the case where your audience is not informed enought to necessarily discern between what is mere pastiche, and what is parody.


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 15 November 2006 02:08 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Everyone knows USians don't understand satire. It comes from living in a society that is its own parody.

I doubt that the millions who are flocking to see this movie are chuckling over the alleged sendups of homophobia, racism, and sexism. They are more likely laughing at the Romanians, the Kazakhs, the scatological jokes, and the sight gags, and the humiliation of ordinary people, while feeling reinforced in their sense of superiority over the rest of the world.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Merowe
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posted 15 November 2006 02:08 PM      Profile for Merowe     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Eh...one man's fish....I thought the Office was brilliant too, but just watched the second season of Extras recently and had the sense in the later episodes the writers were straining to reach the bar just set by Mr.Cohen.

I agree some of it is simply slapstick; the innovation, of course, is that, though it is rehearsed, it is also live and in that, I thought, lay the real artfulness of this fellow, the real chutzpah.

As to the Arab character of the Borat persona, at least on the surface insofar as he is Kazakh he is not Arab at all, even if some of the more backward people he comes across in the movie read him as such. More Georgian, or Chechen or what have you. So I can't accept that it is a thinly veiled double-edged parody of some 'Arab' other; more, as the villagers of Glot might confirm, some general eastern European type. Were he to introduce overt references to Islam into the character, then I would certainly agree, and be happy to condemn the whole business.

And, in terms of mocking the racist impulses of a given culture, surely it was the case that the Borat character was greeted with great courtesy and politeness for the most part, at least initially? He had to dig quite a bit, set up fairly preposterous situations to produce the expected result, no?

At any rate, to me all this analysis is moot; it made me laugh a lot and that was the test for me.

More than that, I felt the way he is able to maneuver through the social veneer, to reveal just how frail that veneer really is; how playful and disrespectful of it he is...that, I respected.

I'd never heard of Ali G until Borat and, having watched a few episodes find them fairly stupid and don't suppose I'll get through the rest of them. And I suppose Borat has blown his cover now, time to move on. But, if only for that momentary sundering of the polite veneer, Sasha Cohen shines at his self appointed role of jester, no?

Not to mention the political incorrectness of the targets he rips; far from racist, he has a clear idea of the enemy and he doesn't mince about and I credit him for that.

To march into the middle of a rodeo, veritable 'belly of the beast' and congratulate several thousand spectators on their country's 'war of terror'?

Speaking truth to power, surely.


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Cueball
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posted 15 November 2006 02:19 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
That last he most certainly is not.
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Cueball
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posted 15 November 2006 02:29 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
Everyone knows USians don't understand satire. It comes from living in a society that is its own parody.

I doubt that the millions who are flocking to see this movie are chuckling over the alleged sendups of homophobia, racism, and sexism. They are more likely laughing at the Romanians, the Kazakhs, the scatological jokes, and the sight gags, and the humiliation of ordinary people, while feeling reinforced in their sense of superiority over the rest of the world.


Worth repeating.


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Sharon
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posted 15 November 2006 02:31 PM      Profile for Sharon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm very interested to read this variety of opinion on the movie. It's not like reading single unopposed critics.

I'm not sure if I always agree with M. Spector (I'm really not sure -- I think I sometimes do and sometimes don't ) but I liked and agreed with this:

quote:
Everyone knows USians don't understand satire. It comes from living in a society that is its own parody.

I doubt that the millions who are flocking to see this movie are chuckling over the alleged sendups of homophobia, racism, and sexism. They are more likely laughing at the Romanians, the Kazakhs, the scatological jokes, and the sight gags, and the humiliation of ordinary people, while feeling reinforced in their sense of superiority over the rest of the world.



From: Halifax, Nova Scotia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 15 November 2006 02:39 PM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by N.Beltov:
P.S. The thread title should read "Roma villagers sue/threaten to sue," etc. or something like that.

A Jewish citizen of Germany is not inaccurately described as German; a Roma citizen of Poland is not inaccurately described as Polish; a Scots-descended citizen of Ireland is not inaccurately described as Irish; Zinedine Zidane is not inaccurately described as French; and a Roma citizen of Romania is not inaccurately described as Romanian. Similarly, a village in Romania, populated by Roma, is not inaccurately described as a Romanian village.

I see no reason to correct the article's title.

[ 15 November 2006: Message edited by: Martha (but not Stewart) ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 15 November 2006 02:40 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
If most of the Romanian village that served as a 'Borat' location was 'unemployed' - though it appears to be an active farming community - then whatever pittance they were compensated is still gravy to them, surely. Such western constructions as he maps upon them reflect more upon us the intended audience than upon his gently deceived extras.

Apparently the "extras" don't agree.


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Cueball
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posted 15 November 2006 02:43 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Martha (but not Stewart):

A Jewish citizen of Germany is not inaccurately described as German; a Roma citizen of Poland is not inaccurately described as Polish; a Scots-descended citizen of Ireland is not inaccurately described as Irish; Zinedine Zidane is not inaccurately described as French; and a Roma citizen of Romania is not inaccurately described as Romanian. Similarly, a village in Romania, populated by Roma, is not inaccurately described as a Romanian village.

I see no reason to correct the article's title.

[ 15 November 2006: Message edited by: Martha (but not Stewart) ]


There are lots of people from national minorities who identify themselves by the superior nation. Many Jewish Poles, call themselve Poles. But as for Romania... do you mean the Moldovans or Wallchians?

In any case it is my understanding that Romanians is a term derived from the relationship of this people to the Holy Roman Empire, and the Bysantines and not Roma people (aka Gypsies.) If this were not the case, Romania's alliance with Germany during WW2 would certainly been a most ill concieved decision, since Hitler's ultimat objective was their extermination.

This is how they talk about themselves:

quote:
The natives, be they of Roman or Daco-Roman descent, continued their uninterrupted existence as farmers and shepherds even after the withdrawal, under emperor Aurelian (270-275) of the Roman army and administration, which were moved south of the Danube. But the ancestors of the Romanians remained for several centuries in the political, economic, religious and cultural sphere of influence of the Roman Empire; after the empire split in 395 AD, they stayed in the sphere of the Byzantine Empire. They lived mostly in the old Roman hearts that had now decayed and survived in difficult circumstances under successive waves of migratory tribes.

At the time when the Daco-Roman ethno-cultural symbiosis was achieved and finalised in the 6-7th centuries by the formation of the Romanian people, in the 2-4th centuries, the Daco-Romans adopted Christianity in a Latin garb. Therefore, in the 6-7th centuries, when the formation process of the Romanian people was done, this nation emerged in history as a Christian one. This is why, unlike the neighbouring nations, which have established dates of Christianization (the Bulgarians - 865, the Serbs - 874, the Poles-966, the eastern Slavs - 988, the Hungarians - the year 1000), the Romanians do not have a fixed date of Christianization, as they were the first Christian nation in the region.


Government of Romania web site -- FREE MOLDAVIA!

OOOPS I am agreeing with you. Well there it is -- my appologies.

[ 15 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 15 November 2006 02:55 PM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:
it is my understanding that Romanians is a term derived from the relationship of this people to the Holy Roman Empire, and not Roma people (aka Gypsies.)

This is correct.

My belief that Roma living in Romania are Romanian has nothing to do with the purely accidental similarity between the words "Roma" and "Romanian": I also believe that Roma living in France are French and Roma living in Poland are Polish.

[ 15 November 2006: Message edited by: Martha (but not Stewart) ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 15 November 2006 02:57 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
OOOPS I am agreeing with you. Well there it is -- my apologies.

But then on the other hand N. Beltov, is perhaps more generally making the point that Cohen chose as his setting one of the more depressed towns, associated with an already stygmatized group in Romania, and that says a lot.

So perhaps he is not misplaced in indicating this fact.

[ 15 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


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Brian White
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posted 15 November 2006 03:03 PM      Profile for Brian White   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Certainly not arab. Certainly not muslem.
The guy is jewish and perhaps "throw the jew down the well is folk memory from eastern europe 80 years back". So perhaps a generic eastern european backwoods man in what he shows?
When I saw the village, I thought south central europe but didnt know which country.
I think he will be killed because he has some pretty scary people as his targets. And as far as I can see, most of the targets are on this continent.
I found Borat very funny indeed (and i wasnt expecting to) My girlfriend insisted I go.
Stuff like "the village rapist" is totally out of order but everything else is fair game.
I will never watch wrestling again after seeing Borat! HORRIBLE
It is interesting that borat chose a Gypsie village in Romania. Thats the most downtrodden people in the poorest country in europe. Perhaps he wanted to show poverty AND make a statement?
Anyway, if nothing else, he put a mirror up to people and showed them who they were.
Some people are still in denial but others have got the message.
And I bet the people of Glod will have a tourist attraction and B+B income (right or wrong) for years to come.

From: Victoria Bc | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 15 November 2006 03:06 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The idea is that he is portraying an Arab or Muslim charachter, not that Cohen is. No, he is a British Jew of Persian decent who holidays in Israel with his girlfriend, apparently. I am expecting him to show up at a B'Tselem demonstartion any time soon to denounce racism and call for de-occupation of the West Bank.

Boy! Now that is funny. I am kiling myself with laughter!

[ 15 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Merowe
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posted 15 November 2006 03:14 PM      Profile for Merowe     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Confusion of terms. 'Roma' over here means gypsy, ie. a nomadic tribe thought to originate from the Indian subcontinent - great book on them written by an American journalist i cant recall the name of - as opposed to Romanian. Was the 'Borat' village truly ethnic Roma, such as ones I visited in Slovakia two years ago, or Romanian, something entirely different?

They may have a legitimate beef. Perhaps they were paid as shittily as extras were in the Toronto film industry where I worked for a few years.

I can imagine their original excitement upon the arrival of a 'western' film crew in their 'humble' village. You don't need to go to Romania to find hordes of useful idiots who are happy to stand around for hours for the chance to get their face in a film, downtown Toronto will furnish thousands of willing candidates. I'm sure the people of Glot spent many hours silently watching the crew eat their lunch, set up their equipment, hovered around the craft table with its precious freight of soft drinks and baloney sandwiches.

Perhaps, like the crew that shot the recent Le Carre in Kenya, the Borat crew might have set up a clinic or something, to give something back. Though on the strength of on-camera time they can only have been on location in Glot for three or four days at most. No; a diverting but brief intrusion of a different world for these people. Their surprise at the films subsequent profile doubtless encouraged feelings of being hard done by and perhaps there is something to that.

But hey, shooting in Toronto we would hire an offduty cop for a couple of hundred, cash in hand, and this person had the power to stop downtown traffic at the director's whim. Its all rather ridiculous, I always felt the halted traffic - who knows what urgent missions were delayed in the service of some shitty movie-of-the-week? - had every right to feel abused. Where do you draw the line? The net effect to the local economy would have read black rather than red, hotels, caterers, transport, etc. and for a few days the Glottites/Glottians/Glotters/Glottals had something to take their minds off football, the Euro song contest and their problems with the harvest and the local strongman.

And as fond as I am of cultures not yet thoroughly penetrated by western materialism, I found Slovakia with its abundant roadside Catholic shrines and deeply racist treatment of local Roma to be as humanly imperfect as any place I have visited.


From: Dresden, Germany | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 15 November 2006 03:23 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Martha (but not Stewart): ... a village in Romania, populated by Roma, is not inaccurately described as a Romanian village.

I see no reason to correct the article's title.


The original title of the thread was a clumsy expression that identified the potential litigators as neither Romanian nor Roma. It was a mistake which Catchfire has since corrected. You may be under the mistaken impression that I was suggesting that Catchfire change the current thread title.

I'm fine with Romanian. I'm also fine with Roma. And I'm fine with "Roma villagers in Romania" for full bonus points.


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 15 November 2006 03:28 PM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Then, oddly, we are all in agreement.
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Cueball
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posted 15 November 2006 03:29 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
So then does that mean we can go to the movie, or not?
From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 15 November 2006 03:35 PM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Actually, the movie is not as funny as the Borat episodes on TV. For those who don't mind infringing copyright laws, many of these episodes are readily downloadable using limewire. My favourites: Throw the Jew Down the Well, The Jew Hunter, and the Cambridge episode where he gets an old Cambridge guy (professor?) to remark that women can't really think clearly. (Borat: "Why you allow woman at university?" or something like that.)
From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 15 November 2006 03:40 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You go. Maybe cheap Tuesday would be good. Then report back. Mkay?
From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 15 November 2006 03:49 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I say we strip the movie down to short five minute pieces. I don't think I could watch more than that based on what I am hearing. Then each Babbler will get a five minute segment to watch. Then they can make a report, then we can work backwards and find out what the whole thing is about, and make a determination.
From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
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posted 15 November 2006 03:54 PM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
Everyone knows USians don't understand satire. It comes from living in a society that is its own parody.

This is probably why the Daily Show, and the Colbert Report were such flops, and were cancelled after only a few episodes. And why Saturday Night Live last for 25 episodes, not 25 years...etc.


From: bleh.... | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Brian White
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posted 15 November 2006 04:10 PM      Profile for Brian White   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Cueball,
My point is that he is NOT trying to portray an arab or a muslem.
But YOU see an arab.
So who is doing the racial steriotyping?
NOT Cohen, YOU.
So, go ahead, offend yourself.
GAWD
He even speaks a little polish on occasion.
"I'm also fine with Roma. And I'm fine with "Roma villagers in Romania" for full bonus points"
Gypsie is the english word for roma. The gypsies are a tiny minority in romania,(used to be a much larger minority) and have their own language which is definitely not romanian.
(cohen went to a gypsie village in romania)
It is a very big distinction.
I know people are furious about the tiny amount of money paid to the extras. But one question?
did anyone expect the movie to be successful?
It is fine to talk about how much it made after the fact.
It could have bombed and then nobody would ever have heard of that village.

From: Victoria Bc | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
aka Mycroft
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posted 15 November 2006 08:14 PM      Profile for aka Mycroft     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Merowe:
when compared to for example Steve Allen's 'wild and crazy' Polish guy on Saturday Night Live.

It's hard to imagine Steve Allen doing that

I think you mean Steve Martin and they were Czech brothers


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
aka Mycroft
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posted 15 November 2006 08:18 PM      Profile for aka Mycroft     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:
The idea is that he is portraying an Arab or Muslim charachter, not that Cohen is. No, he is a British Jew of Persian decent who holidays in Israel with his girlfriend, apparently. I am expecting him to show up at a B'Tselem demonstartion any time soon to denounce racism and call for de-occupation of the West Bank.

Boy! Now that is funny. I am kiling myself with laughter!

[ 15 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


Actually, given that Romania stands is as Kazakhstan it's pretty clear that Borat isn't meant to be Arab or Muslim. Indeed, at the end of the film Kazakhstan is portrayed as Christian.

Borat's Kazakhstan is depicted as Eastern European even though in reality it's really Central Asian.


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Catchfire
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posted 15 November 2006 08:40 PM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
A) I am humbly embarassed that I though Khazaks were Arabs.
B) The original title was laughably ungrammatical, like "Romanian movie sues Borat" or something, and didn't make any sense. It wasn't a Roma/Romanian nitpick, it was a "what the hell does that mean?" nitpick.I fixed it. But at least it sparked a neat discussion.
C) Yes, this movie was expected to make money, and even if it was not, that does not excuse the fact that the villagers were paid less than $5, and that the movie ridiculed the poverty that is their daily life, and made them do things they wouldn't do (ie. put animals in houses) so that America could laugh harder.

From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
BetterRed
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posted 15 November 2006 08:42 PM      Profile for BetterRed     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Borat's Kazakhstan is depicted as Eastern European even though in reality it's really Central Asian.


I didnt think Cohen intended to portray Kazakhs as Muslims. well, the many wives bit... kinda gray area.
And when asked last month what he thinks about British Muslim veil crisis he(Borat)said some dumb joke about ugly Kazakh woman who lifted her veil and how its a custom.
I see people not liking the idea of him mocking Muslims. But if he's taking a shit on Eastern Europeans' collective culture instead, is that better??

And like I said on the other thread,US righties seem to like this movie,cuz it's xenophobic and anti-PC.


From: They change the course of history, everyday ppl like you and me | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 15 November 2006 09:01 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Catchfire: The original title was laughably ungrammatical, like "Romanian movie sues Borat" or something, and didn't make any sense.

That's it. The confusion was a risk associated with allowing babblers to edit postings.

quote:
...the movie ridiculed the poverty that is their daily life, and made them do things they wouldn't do (ie. put animals in houses) so that America could laugh harder.

The litigation is becoming a flood. It made The National tonight. Borat ... I mean Sacha ... may have to hide from his litigants ... in Kazakhstan. I hope he's got friends there.

I think I will do a little Kazakh literary research. I'm a little rusty these days.


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
BetterRed
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posted 15 November 2006 09:28 PM      Profile for BetterRed     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
They say they were paid just $3.30 to $5.50 US for their help in the film, which is shown in the opening scene of Borat.

They also were told the movie was a documentary and they were not offered proper film contracts, he alleges.

"These people are poor and they were tricked by people more intelligent than us."



Ive read the article. They lied to these poor peasants and used them as silent props, like Gwen Stefani's harajuku dolls.

Sure, Cohen is a brilliant Cambridge anti-racist. Its okay for him to wear a blackface and put a dunce cap on other cultures. As long as he makes those $$$$

ETA:
The movie was banned in Russia.

quote:
One Kazakh diplomat says that the depiction of his country as violent, primitive and oppressive bears no resemblance to reality.

And it seems the Russian authorities are also not amused.

A culture ministry official in Moscow told the BBC it had refused to issue a distribution licence because the film could potentially humiliate different ethnic groups and religions.

The official would not give any further details, except to say the distributors had the right to appeal against the government's decision.



Borat is banned from Russian theaters

[ 15 November 2006: Message edited by: BetterRed ]


From: They change the course of history, everyday ppl like you and me | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
Merowe
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posted 16 November 2006 05:11 AM      Profile for Merowe     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think in choosing a location in Romania as his generic 'backward eastern European nation' Cohen had no axe to grind with Romanian culture per se. The village of Glot is a representation of a fictional Kazakhstan, just as Borat is a fictional Kazakh.

What was that film with Burt Reynolds, 'Deliverance'? Was that politically incorrect, to intimate that people in dirt-poor Appalachia might not know which fork to eat their snails with?

There is a line of humourlessness in this thread. When people are shot in movies, THEY'RE NOT REALLY DEAD! Likewise, Glot stood in for a fiction created by Mr.Cohen; it was NOT presented as Glot and then parodied. As was the case, for example, in a lot of the American locations.

That he misrepresented his intentions to the community is of course another matter.

As for the livestock in the houses business, that was obviously a comedic prop; if certain knuckledraggers lack the wit to discern this that is not the problem of the filmmaker. Intent counts in this instance and the intent was clearly to create some whack inbred fictional entity; see Little Britain, etc.

I can't speak to Kazakh culture per se. Don't they border Uzbekistan though? The place where the local dictator boils his victims to death? Truth is stranger than fiction; maybe Borat should have come from there.


From: Dresden, Germany | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Briguy
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posted 16 November 2006 05:20 AM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Wow.

The portrayal of Khazaks in Cohen's bits are as victims of their government. The poverty, racism, and mysogeny he portrays is all state-sponsored and supported, as evidenced by the Borat character's position as an official Khazak reporter. That isn't far from the truth, even if the situations he creates from this poverty are ridiculous. He probably should've made up a fake country to get this point across, but Cohen doesn't strike me as the type who takes steps to avoid controversy.

The movie is about American stereotyping, too. Anyone who would take the Borat character at face value while being interviewed by him already has some serious preconceptions about Khazakstanis, or central Asians in general. The scenes with the frat boys and the rodeo crowd are eye-opening, to say the least.

That said, the movie isn't for everyone. If you don't like being grossed out, don't see it. If you don't like harsh satire that is often more uncomfortable than it is funny, don't see it.

And ya, donating a portion of the proceeds to the village he used as a set would be the right thing to do. For his studio, too.


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Catchfire
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posted 16 November 2006 07:08 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I don't think the accusation of "humourlessness" is a particularly thoughtful one in this context. It's a label that often comes out when feminists react angrily to sexist jokes (Hey! Like in Borat!) Yes, Cohen's Khazakstan is a representation, and not an imitation of the real country. It's fictional, if you like. African-American writers, such as Chester Himes, have frequently employed white stereotypes of Blacks in order to make the point I believe you feel Cohen is making. That is, if I show you how ridiculous your racist conception of a Black man is, will you see? Will you understand?

Of course, this tactic generally reveals entrenched cultural bias against the cariacture represented: in this case, White prejudice against Blacks. In Cohen's case, his cariacture rarely exposes American bias against Khazaks, Eastern Europeans or Middle Asians. If anything, this at least renders his representation problematic. Compounded with this is the fact that few champions of this movie want to admit: roughly 60% of it is not "speaking truth to power" or subverting stereotypes. It is puerile slapstick comedy. What is subversive about a ten minute naked wrestling match between two uncouth Khazak savages? What is subversive about making weak jokes about shapeshifting Jews? Once the cariacture is established, the significance of any further extention of that cariacture is negligible. In fact, it borders on the pornographic.


From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Stargazer
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posted 16 November 2006 07:43 AM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, I'm pretty far on the left but I haven't and will never lose my sense of humour so I fall in with Merowe on this one. Ican't wait to see this film and laugh my ass off.

I also like the Trailor Park Boys, Absolutely Fabulous (especially the part where Edwina sells her daughter into white slavery). I can't be PC all the time and imo this film mocks Americans, and rightfully so many times.


From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 16 November 2006 08:53 AM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by aka Mycroft:
[QBIndeed, at the end of the film Kazakhstan is portrayed as Christian. [/QB]

I remember some remark about worshipping "the hawk."


From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
Briguy
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posted 16 November 2006 08:58 AM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Compounded with this is the fact that few champions of this movie want to admit: roughly 60% of it is not "speaking truth to power" or subverting stereotypes. It is puerile slapstick comedy. What is subversive about a ten minute naked wrestling match between two uncouth Khazak savages? What is subversive about making weak jokes about shapeshifting Jews?

The point is that the kids love slapstick these days. Why do you think ridiculous movies like Jackass are so popular? Sacha Cohen is going after the Jackass audience more than the people who want to see respectful documentary treatises revealing the wrongs of the world. The shapeshifting Jews scene (and his belief that Jews have horns and lay eggs, for that matter) is just more of the ridiculous ficticious "Khazak" schtick. IMO.

Rolling Stone interview with Sacha Michael Cohen - as himself. I just found this interview. Interesting, although it's just an excerpt.


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 16 November 2006 09:01 AM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Briguy:
Anyone who would take the Borat character at face value while being interviewed by him already has some serious preconceptions about Khazakstanis, or central Asians in general.

You give his interviewers too much credit. Most of these people have never heard of Kazakhstan (or Central Asia, for that matter): and people rarely have preconceptions about a place they have never heard of. I think, rather, they just have preconceptions about foreigners from places they've never heard of.

By the way, it is worth noting that Kazakhs look nothing like Borat: see here.


From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 16 November 2006 09:25 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by aka Mycroft:

Actually, given that Romania stands is as Kazakhstan it's pretty clear that Borat isn't meant to be Arab or Muslim. Indeed, at the end of the film Kazakhstan is portrayed as Christian.

Borat's Kazakhstan is depicted as Eastern European even though in reality it's really Central Asian.


This may be so, but it remains that even the idea that because something is "Eastern European" or Slavic even, it does not mean that it is non-Muslim. That in itself is a stereotype.

It is likely that Cohen is as confused as his audience as to the ethnic and religious identity of his character, but that in itself is potentially a useful comic device, as he can make fun of the backward, ignorant peasants of the east of whatever type.

It is no accident that this whole western bias against the east, which by the way begins in the enlightenment is sumarized by Nazi-skinheads in Germany in the phrase "ostlander rouse."

From what I am readin it seems this is in reality what Edward Said called "orientalism" in its worst form -- An amalgamation of ignorant stereotypes completely unrelated to the reality of the culture and peoples of the east, so much so that the many peoples of the east are represented without defintion amongst themselves: Borat is Muslim, Arab, Khazak, Slav, Orthodox etc all at once.

The confusion of wild stereotypes would probably make it impossible for those supposedly portrayed to see themselves, as they might enjoy the parody.

"Orientalism."

Meanwhile, this charachter is set against a backdrop of arrogant Americans who despite their presumed cultural superiority, really turn out to be small-minded bigots just like the Khazaks portrayed. The lesson here, in distinct contrast to Peter Seller's in the Party, is not that there is good in all cultures, but the opposite, all people are ignorant and stupid, except of course Cohen himself, who quite unexplainably manages to exempt Jewish people from those ridculed as ignorant racist bigots.


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
aka Mycroft
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posted 16 November 2006 09:27 AM      Profile for aka Mycroft     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Martha (but not Stewart):

I remember some remark about worshipping "the hawk."


There's a shot near the end of a guy being nailed to a cross.


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 16 November 2006 09:40 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Vansterdam Kid:
This is probably why the Daily Show, and the Colbert Report were such flops, and were cancelled after only a few episodes. And why Saturday Night Live last for 25 episodes, not 25 years...etc.
Stewart's and Colbert's shows, which are the pinnacle of (intentional) satire on US TV (which is not saying much), are seen late in the evening on a US cable network by less than 1% of the population. Most of those are hip young urban liberals who don't have to get up before 8 o'clock in the morning.

Where's the prime-time satire on mainstream network TV?

It's mainly in Canada, not the USA. Rick Mercer, 22 Minutes, Air Farce, Corner Gas, etc.

A large part of Borat is "prankster comedy," where the fun comes from making fools of the unsuspecting or simply recording their outraged reactions. It's also seen in those rather unfunny shows on the Comedy Network that consist of nothing but telephone pranks or street cons. Satire they ain't.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 16 November 2006 09:42 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
It isn't relevant, wether Borat is Christian or not. This is orientalism, pure and simple:

quote:
In the former meaning, the term Orientalism has come to acquire negative connotations in some quarters and is interpreted to refer to the study of the East by Westerners shaped by the attitudes of the era of European imperialism in the 18th and 19th centuries. When used in this sense, it implies old-fashioned and prejudiced outsider interpretations of Eastern cultures and peoples. This viewpoint was most famously articulated and propagated by Edward Said in his controversial 1978 book Orientalism, which was critical of this scholarly tradition and of modern scholars including Princeton University professor Bernard Lewis.

[SNIP}

Depictions of Islamic "Moors" and "Turks" (imprecisely named Muslim groups of North Africa and West Asia) can be found in Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art. But it was not until the 19th century that "Orientalism" in the arts became an established theme. In these works the myth of the Orient as exotic and corrupt is most fully articulated. Such works typically concentrated on Near-Eastern Islamic cultures. Artists such as Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Léon Gérôme painted many depictions of Islamic culture, often including lounging odalisques, and stressing lassitude and visual spectacle. When Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, director of the French Académie de peinture painted a highly-colored vision of a turkish bath (illustration, right), he made his eroticized Orient publicly acceptable by his diffuse generalizing of the female forms, who might all have been of the same model. If his painting had simply been retitled "In a Paris Brothel," it would have been far less acceptable. Sensuality was seen as acceptable in the exotic Orient. This orientalizing imagery persisted in art into the early 20th century, as evidenced in Matisse's orientalist nudes. In these works the "Orient" often functions as a mirror to Western culture itself, or as a way of expressing its hidden or illicit aspects. In Gustave Flaubert's novel Salammbô ancient Carthage in North Africa is used as a foil to ancient Rome. Its culture is portrayed as morally corrupting and suffused with dangerously alluring eroticism. This novel proved hugely influential on later portrayals of ancient Semitic cultures.


Orientalism

Sure, on the one hand there are things that identify Borat as Christian, but there are also things which indicate he is Muslim, such as references to veiling.

In fact the imprecise charachter of the cultural identification is an example of orientalism.

[ 16 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 16 November 2006 10:07 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'd be really curious to read a response to the film from a Kirghiz author. There is a lot of similarity between the Kirghiz and the Kazakhs.

There's the fermented mare's milk tradition (kumiss), the birding tradition with hawks, etc., and the semi-nomadic shepherding tradition that the great Kirghiz writer, Chinghiz Aitmatov, wrote about. Aitmatov's Tales of the Mountains and the Steppes was my introduction to Kirghiz literature and it seems to me now that Aitmatov was writing about BOTH the Kirghiz and the Kazakhs. [mountains = Kirghizia or Kirghizstan; steppes = Kazakhstan] Aitmatov specialized in writing about strong women who overcame local backwardness - like the women in his own life who raised him after his father was "disappeared" in a Stalinist purge. Jamilia is Aitmatov's great love story of a woman who overcomes arranged marriages to take her own path in life. He also wrote in an anthropomorphic vein, with fictional animals who observed humans in their activity. Farewell Gulsary! is a profound and spiritually uplifting tale of the life of a horse.

I don't know Kazakh literature nearly so well. But, as I noted earlier, there is a lot of overlap [especially with their Kirghiz and other neighbours].


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
marzo
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posted 16 November 2006 10:14 AM      Profile for marzo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:

The lesson here, in distinct contrast to Peter Seller's in the Party, is not that there is good in all cultures, but the opposite, all people are ignorant and stupid, except of course Cohen himself, who quite unexplainably manages to exempt Jewish people from those ridculed as ignorant racist bigots.



I wonder why some kinds of cruel racist insults are considered clever and progressive, like Cohen's, while others are considered repugnant.
Does the comedian's Jewish identity make it clever for him to humiliate Kazaks and rural Romanians?
I will leave it up to other people to explain why Cohen, and others, exempt Jewish people from having their ignorance and bigotry shown.
I will never watch this movie and will not give my money to some racist bully who makes a joke out of humiliating vulnerable people.

From: toronto | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 16 November 2006 10:15 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Chinghiz Aitmatov. Not many people read him.

I read the tales and also the Days Last More than a Hundred Years. Its really interesting how, despite all its faults, how actively the USSR pursued anti-racism. They were officially instituting ideas in the 30's that didn't hit Canada until the 1970's.


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 16 November 2006 10:19 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Sacha Baron Cohen, the British-born TV comedian introduced to U.S. audiences in the music video for Madonna’s 1998 single “Music,” is one of those showbiz embarrassments that tasteless people defend as “edgy.” He’s down there in the pits with Andy Kaufman and Neil LaBute, flashing crassness as entertainment. And if it hadn’t been for 9/11, Cohen might have stayed in the pits. His film Borat—in which he plays a mustachioed TV reporter from an impoverished Eastern European Muslim country who comes to America to observe capitalist customs and differences—rises from the pits like sewer gas to pollute the movie landscape. Borat recalls one of those Madonna records whose flatulent sound and odious ideology get promoted into a hit.

It’s crazy that our culture is so screwed up that critics can’t discern Cohen’s stench. Borat is not about politics (the ways in which people get along and govern themselves). What makes it a political comedy is Cohen’s calculated manipulation of our social confusion. After the flop of Cohen’s HBO series “Da Ali G Show,” America’s post-9/11 political chaos has given him a second chance at cultural humiliation. He repeats the “Ali G” premise in which a foreign, malaprop-prone visitor assaults U.S. citizens with the intention of exposing their ignorance. As Borat Sagdiyev, Cohen pretends to document the habits of fly-over America; his red state debauch ultimately pandering to Liberals’ worst instincts. But will moviegoers exhibit the same self-loathing as Borat’s ass-kissing film critics? - Armond White



From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 16 November 2006 10:28 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
marzo: I will never watch this movie and will not give my money to some racist bully who makes a joke out of humiliating vulnerable people.

It's still not clear to me that this film does only or mainly this. Read a review by someone whose opinion you respect. Sometimes the positive can outweigh the negative.


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 16 November 2006 10:32 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Me? I want to prank interview Borat. Tee Hee. I have an angle.
From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 16 November 2006 10:39 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Cueball: Chinghiz Aitmatov. Not many people read him.

Some good one liners from Aitmatov:

Writing about the madness of putting weapons into space, Aitmatov makes a remark that could apply to the madness of fundamentalism as well:

"All that remains is for them to raise their hands against God, the very God in whom they claim to believe."

We had a previous discussion here, recently, about reason versus other human qualities. [Voltaire's Bastards, etc.] Here's one of Aitmatov's remarks on the subject:

"There is a fine old saying that beauty will save the world, but I would merely like to add that reason still has the last word."


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
jrootham
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posted 16 November 2006 10:49 AM      Profile for jrootham     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:
Me? I want to prank interview Borat. Tee Hee. I have an angle.

Hmm, wrestling with aligators, swimming with sharks, arm wrestling Shaq O'Neill. Good luck.


From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 16 November 2006 11:01 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
That Armond White review really eviscerates Borat. White compares the film to Will Ferrell’s Talladega Nights and notes:

quote:
But Will Ferrell’s satire was mixed with affection. Most of all, Talladega Nights was funny. Borat is not funny—except, perhaps, to 13-year-olds or people who imagine Cohen’s targets (that is, other Americans) as mortal enemies.

White's final comment got my attention:

quote:
Borat is primed for dubious “classic” status because it exemplifies the angry Left’s vicious temerity. It should be ashamed that its “dissent” finds expression in Cohen’s “Ethnic-Cleansing” humor.

Does the reviewer place himself on the "right" or just the "non-angry" left?


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aka Mycroft
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posted 16 November 2006 11:07 AM      Profile for aka Mycroft     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
marzo: I will never watch this movie and will not give my money to some racist bully who makes a joke out of humiliating vulnerable people.

I don't know, those who come off the worst in the film are the racists and bigots. The frat boys who lament the end of slavery, express misogynistic attitudes and claim that "minorities" have more rights and run the country, the rodeo manager who complains about A-rabs. The audience at the rodeo who lustily cheer Borat when he calls for George W. Bush to drink the blood of every Iraqi man, woman and child. The southern white aristocrats hosting a dinner party in their mansion on "Secession Drive" who put up with Borat's antics until a black woman posing as his date shows up, prompting them to call the sheriff and expel Borat & Co.

The people who are humiliated in the film are those who humiliate themselves. A number of those who appear in the film, the humour coach, the etiquette coach, the elderly Jewish couple, the black youths come out unscathed I think. After he realized who Borat was the humour coach's son told him that Borat either humiliates you or he humiliates himself. I think this is a valid observation.

[ 16 November 2006: Message edited by: aka Mycroft ]

[ 16 November 2006: Message edited by: aka Mycroft ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 16 November 2006 11:53 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I haven't seen the movie, so I'm not going to comment on the content per se. I think the intent was satire, from what I've read of it, and whether that's successful or not... Well, you'd have to see it to decide.

What bothers me is that there doesn't seem to have been a clear agreement between Baron Cohen and some of the people in the film. Maybe he lied, maybe he had agreements with government agencies, maybe there was a language barrier. There isn't really enough information. If he did, however, lie, then ethically, as someone who works in the film and tv industry, I have a problem with that.

If he lied, he'll probably lose his insurance coverage -- but then, with the profit on the film, they're probably counting it as a cost of promotion. They've gotten a lot of press out of the various accusations and lawsuits.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Briguy
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posted 16 November 2006 12:16 PM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
How is this substantially different from the old 22 Minutes bit "Talking to Americans", besides for the "Jackass" gross-out factor?

BTW, during the film Borat converts to Christianity (following a few scenes at an evangelical revivalist get-together). I presume that he starts out a Muslim, although the audience isn't told. I suppose for the worst of his interviewees/victims, that would be spelled I-S-L-A-M-I-S-T. Of course, he converts his original village to Christianity upon his return home.

Being compared to Andy Kaufman is a bad thing? Sarah Silverman must be the devil, I guess.


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 16 November 2006 12:30 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Briguy: Being compared to Andy Kaufman is a bad thing? Sarah Silverman must be the devil, I guess.

Yea, I'm wary of that review. I'd like to read one from The Village Voice, if it is still around, for another approach to the film.


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Noise
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posted 16 November 2006 02:37 PM      Profile for Noise     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Did nobody recognize Borat as Ali G? Ali G grew to the point of too notorious for his own good and was having problems getting new people to make fun of ^^ Sacha is a genious for his abilities to throw people off there guard with a single line. Haven't seen Borat, but just from Sachas past work I know it'll be entertaining.

CBC as always lists tiny peices of the story. What a sad media outlet... They've pretty much got word for word as other media sources, but exclude alot of peices Heres CNN's lil blurb on it, which includes a lil more info:

quote:
But Gregg Brilliant, a spokesman for 20th Century Fox, told The Associated Press early Wednesday that locals were paid around $6 a day -- twice the going rate in Romania for extras. He said the production team and Cohen each donated $5,000 to the town, paid a location fee and bought it computers, school and office supplies.

...

Not everyone in Glod is upset. Sorina Luca, 25, excitedly described how she was given $3.30 to bring a pig into her home and let the producers put a toy rifle into the hands of her 5-year-old daughter for one scene.

"I really liked it," she said. "We are poor and miserable. Nothing ever happens here."



From: Protest is Patriotism | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
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posted 16 November 2006 05:02 PM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
Stewart's and Colbert's shows, which are the pinnacle of (intentional) satire on US TV (which is not saying much), are seen late in the evening on a US cable network by less than 1% of the population. Most of those are hip young urban liberals who don't have to get up before 8 o'clock in the morning.

Where's the prime-time satire on mainstream network TV?


I love it when people make up numbers, like your mythological one percent. If Jon Stewart was so fringe, and talentless, he wouldn't have gotten, an 'established' political show like Crossfire cancelled. And politicians wouldn't care whether or not they were lampooned on Colbert's show. And neither would have legions of fans. I suppose you think you have taste, and that they're beneath you, but the numbers don't agree.

In any case, shows like Mad TV (Fox Network), and SNL (NBC), not to mention the late night talk shows which do have a bit of a satire in them, are all on network television. They may not be during "Prime Time", but they're still viewed by a lot of people. I'm not going to claim that the be all and end all of Borat is satire, it's obvious that he's very slapstick too. But the point is that a significant component of the character's schtick is satirical. The US isn't a hot bet of satire, but it isn't as humourless and satire free as you would like to portray it as.


quote:
What bothers me is that there doesn't seem to have been a clear agreement between Baron Cohen and some of the people in the film. Maybe he lied, maybe he had agreements with government agencies, maybe there was a language barrier. There isn't really enough information. If he did, however, lie, then ethically, as someone who works in the film and tv industry, I have a problem with that.

I'd agree with this, as it relates to the villagers. While the frat boys that are suing him, implicated themselves and knew exactly what they were saying when they decided to go on their racist/sexist tangents, the villagers were completely set up...and it seems a lot more plausible that they were misled.

quote:
BTW, during the film Borat converts to Christianity (following a few scenes at an evangelical revivalist get-together). I presume that he starts out a Muslim, although the audience isn't told. I suppose for the worst of his interviewees/victims, that would be spelled I-S-L-A-M-I-S-T. Of course, he converts his original village to Christianity upon his return home.

The only references to his previous religion was that "he follows the eagle." And when Borat was outing a guy who was bashing muslims, and who said that he looked like a muslim, he said that he wasn't a muslim. So I presume that they were pagans of some sort.


From: bleh.... | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Brian White
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posted 16 November 2006 06:43 PM      Profile for Brian White   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Anyway, borat is just like south park brought to life.
and who was ever offended by south park?
Actually south park is way worse.
Anyone here like seinfeld? One of their writers is responsible for much of Borat.
Cohens next movie is going to be about Bruno, I think.
(The gay austrian dj or whatever he is). I think thats the character with his zipper going halfway down the trouser leg.
I guess there will be threads declaring that most austrians are straight when that movie comes out.

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M. Spector
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posted 16 November 2006 06:45 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Vansterdam Kid:
I love it when people make up numbers, like your mythological one percent.
I love it when people are too stupid to even check their facts before accusing others of making things up. On a good night, Jon Stewart gets 2 million viewers in a nation of 300 million. You do the math, if you can.

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 16 November 2006 07:04 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
What about the Simpsons? That's pretty satirical. So were some other shows like All in the Family and Married with Children.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
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posted 16 November 2006 10:24 PM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Oh no Michelle. Those are too low brow.

Actually that's a good point, there are countless examples. The Simpsons, for instance, spawned a spin-off, Futurama. And then there's Family Guy. And Rosanne seemed pretty satirical.

[ 16 November 2006: Message edited by: Vansterdam Kid ]


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Cueball
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posted 16 November 2006 10:56 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Brian White:
Anyway, borat is just like south park brought to life.
and who was ever offended by south park?
Actually south park is way worse.
Anyone here like seinfeld? One of their writers is responsible for much of Borat.
Cohens next movie is going to be about Bruno, I think.
(The gay austrian dj or whatever he is). I think thats the character with his zipper going halfway down the trouser leg.
I guess there will be threads declaring that most austrians are straight when that movie comes out.

No. The difference is that those satires come from within the culture they satire.

This means two things, one that the writers and actors (if there are any) are familiar directly with the subject, and two, they are not assuming that they have the authority to speak for or condemn people of other cultures.

More simply, there is I am sure you are aware a difference between someone making fun of themselves, and someone making others into an object of fun.

[ 16 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 17 November 2006 08:23 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
I'd agree with this, as it relates to the villagers. While the frat boys that are suing him, implicated themselves and knew exactly what they were saying when they decided to go on their racist/sexist tangents, the villagers were completely set up...and it seems a lot more plausible that they were misled.

Well, yes, I was referring to the villagers. There's something odd about the frat boys' story -- although I also think if you don't want to say something stupid on camera, don't get drunk. You're still responsible for what comes out of your mouth, plastered or not. And it grates when I hear the accusation that someone "got them drunk" -- unless they tied them down and used a gastric tube, they made a choice to get drunk. They could have said "no thanks". So I don't think their claim has any real merit, although a court might find otherwise.

The film itself is in a kind of grey area because it is an odd hybrid -- a constructed, fictional character in documentary-style interactions with non-actors/real people. It does open a can of worms as far as ethics and legalities are concerned.


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Timebandit
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posted 17 November 2006 08:25 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:

No. The difference is that those satires come from within the culture they satire.

This means two things, one that the writers and actors (if there are any) are familiar directly with the subject, and two, they are not assuming that they have the authority to speak for or condemn people of other cultures.

More simply, there is I am sure you are aware a difference between someone making fun of themselves, and someone making others into an object of fun.

[ 16 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


But Baron Cohen isn't really satirizing Kazakh culture. He's creating a fictional character from a fictional Kazakhstan (spelling's probably way off...) as a device with which to satirize American culture.


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aka Mycroft
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posted 17 November 2006 09:22 AM      Profile for aka Mycroft     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Rick Salutin has a good analysis in today's Globe.
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aka Mycroft
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posted 17 November 2006 09:26 AM      Profile for aka Mycroft     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
The name's Bond, er . . . Borat by Rick Salutin

(...)
In the age of Borat, blacks are no longer the main source of fear, along with some loathing. On his U.S. voyage, black youth and a black prostitute are among the few people who aren't mocked. It is people from Muslim places like Kazakhstan or the other stans -- Pakistan, Afghanistan -- who are scary and offensive. Mr. Baron Cohen says he chose Kazakhstan because it's little known, but he could have used nations in south Asia, South America, or the Pacific. He says his film shows the absurdity of holding any form of racial prejudice, whether of African-Americans or of Jews. He doesn't mention Muslims, the obvious case in the West today. In an odd moment, Borat implies he isn't a Muslim since he's from Kazakhstan -- which has a Muslim majority.

Is Borat great satire? Rolling Stone calls him Swiftian, a "balls-out comic revolutionary" in a class with Lenny Bruce, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. But Mr. Colbert attacked George Bush in front of the Washington press corps. A good satirist risks mocking and antagonizing his own group. That's the strength of Muslim and other minority comics. At least V.S. Naipaul was from the Third World. Sacha Baron Cohen only acts the role of Borat. He is an Orthodox Jew from England. Mordecai Richler and Philip Roth took shots at the goyim but they also fearlessly satirized their own Jewish world. There's not a peep of that from Borat/Cohen. Nor does he challenge any real sources of power. He is also prone to sappy sentimentality, like the hooker with a heart of gold, not a sign of spiky satire, in my view.
(...)


[ 17 November 2006: Message edited by: aka Mycroft ]


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Cueball
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posted 17 November 2006 10:59 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Timebandit:

But Baron Cohen isn't really satirizing Kazakh culture. He's creating a fictional character from a fictional Kazakhstan (spelling's probably way off...) as a device with which to satirize American culture.



Right a mushy and innaccruate misconception of Eastern culture is one of the things E. Said was talking about when he was talking about Orientalism, and, in fact, often a device used to reflect Western culture, and nothing really to do with the Eastern culture at all.

See Wiki article of 'orientalism' I posted above.

So, this hurtful misrepresention smears by its inacuracies as well as its dersive tone. If I say you are ignorant American (mistakenly conflating Canada with the US) slob it is not as if the fact that I don't properly represent North American geography or don't understand its demographics, amieliorates the inslut, in fact it compounds the insult.

All First Nations people are the same?


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Timebandit
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posted 17 November 2006 11:44 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:


Right a mushy and innaccruate misconception of Eastern culture is one of the things E. Said was talking about when he was talking about Orientalism, and, in fact, often a device used to reflect Western culture, and nothing really to do with the Eastern culture at all.

See Wiki article of 'orientalism' I posted above.

So, this hurtful misrepresention smears by its inacuracies as well as its dersive tone. If I say you are ignorant American (mistakenly conflating Canada with the US) slob it is not as if the fact that I don't properly represent North American geography or don't understand its demographics, amieliorates the inslut, in fact it compounds the insult.

All First Nations people are the same?


I think you could also look at it from a different perspective -- the fact that his "orientalist" creation of an Eastern European character is so easily accepted may in fact heighten the satire.

It's not an uncommon device. I'm picturing John Belushi as a samurai, for example. It may not be to your taste, and nothing says you have to find Baron Cohen amusing in the least, but I think your argument is a little extreme.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 17 November 2006 11:48 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, you may be right in that being the "intent" of what Cohen is doing, but that is not the effect, as it plays to those stereotypes that people believe. Me? I see no reason to think that Cohen is an idiot, I think he is intentionally playing to those stereotypes.

Now here is an offensive joke:

quote:
Stalin and Hiler are sitting at a table at bar. Someone walks in and says to the bar tender, "is that really Htiler and Stalin sitting at that table over there?" The Barkeep replies, "yes."

So the fellow goes over and says, "so what are you two doing in here?" Hitler says, "We are planning WW3."

"Really" says the bar patron, "so what are you going to do this time."

Stalin leans into the table and says in a gruff voice. "This time we are going to kill 12 million Jews and a bicycle repairman."

"What?" says the tha Partron, confused, "why a bicycle repairman?"

Stalin turns to Hitler and says: "See I told you know one would care about the 12 million Jews."



From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 17 November 2006 12:21 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Whether the effect, (ie: whether Baron Cohen is successful in his satire) or not is largely subjective depending on your specific reading of the film. I wouldn't hazard a guess either way, at this point, as I haven't seen it and probably won't for a while.

If I read your posts correctly, you haven't seen it, either -- so you're putting out an opinion based on your subjective filters on information about a performance/creation that's gone through others' subjective filters.

Even if it is offensive, and it may be (and that would have nothing to do with how successful a satire Borat is -- good satire is often deeply offensive), all the fuss and brouhaha is doing nothing but providing Baron Cohen a lot of free (or reasonably priced) publicity, and he's laughing not just at us, but all the way to the bank.

[ 17 November 2006: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 17 November 2006 12:23 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I have watched excerpts from the internet, the trialers, and did substantial research into this subejct. I hadn't heard of Ali G. until this issue fame up but now I would say I have seen about and hour and a half of Sascha Baron Cohen material.

Now what about my joke? Is it offensive or is it witty and incisive?

[ 17 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


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Timebandit
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posted 17 November 2006 12:26 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think your joke is a bait, and I'm not biting.
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Cueball
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posted 17 November 2006 12:26 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
How is it bait?

It is just the kind of thing that Borat might be made to say.

[ 17 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


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Timebandit
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posted 17 November 2006 12:27 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I said, I'm not biting. Gotta go! Ciao!

[ 17 November 2006: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 17 November 2006 12:28 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Its not bait its an example.
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Cueball
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posted 17 November 2006 12:30 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
On the one hand it indicates a truth about European antipathy to Jews and on the other the extreme cynicism of Josephe Stalin, but it also might be played for laughs by Ernst Zundel.

Another thing about this formulation which gives it extra punch is that it is widely reputed that Stalin is the author of the famous line, "one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic."

The thing about this kind of joke is that it is both offensive and insightful at the same time. And the way it comes across is largely defined by whom is telling the joke, and to what purpose.

Do you see the point?


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Merowe
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posted 17 November 2006 04:15 PM      Profile for Merowe     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Cueball your last post addresses the thought I was formulating before I got to it; that humor, like poetry, can be open-ended and we needn't be too deterministic. Certainly there is humor that is just too stupid and one-dimensional to escape being simply racist, etc; but as in the joke you cite, it is open to interpretation.

I was so impressed by South Park's Mr.Hanky the Christmas Poo that I gave a copy to my folks for Christmas. It left them strangely unmoved. Different sense of humor; probably too low for them.

I wouldn't want to get into a slugfest with them as to its proper stature, as I might over particular points of political policy; it comes down to a question of taste, or the lack thereof.

I think its clear though that Mr.Cohen's principal subject and target is western culture. Perhaps if he was blond and blue-eyed he would have to invent other characters to elaborate his interest. And the racist anti-Arab currents present in contemporary mainstream western culture are an obvious target for satire, Mr.Cohen is not the only comedian exploiting this vein.

And, finally, why not just go see the bloody film for yourself and form a proper opinion instead of relying on inference, trailer clips and conjecture? What are you afraid of? At worst you're out a few bucks and an hour or so of your day. You might find there are many levels operating simultaneously, some laudable, others less so. Certainly there is a slapstick component, some of it doesn't work, some of it simple juvenalia, etc.

I think referencing Said's Orientalism is overkill, working too hard. As I said before, Cohen's construction of a fictional outsider is a device designed principally to reflect on western values rather than to project ours onto a suitably vague stereotype; it permits him to step outside of WESTERN cultural norms with the intent of lampooning THEM, rather than taking easy shots at some purportedly simple 'Other'. At worst, Cohen doesn't give a toss for this other beyond the practical ends he puts it to.


From: Dresden, Germany | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
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posted 17 November 2006 04:18 PM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
That excerpt of the Salutin article isn't very good. Personally I think the whole Kazakhstan thing is part of the slapstick element of Borat, it's not a fill in for "all of the 'Stan's'" persay, it's an attempt to portray a backward somewhat soviet communist country - like TB I'd agree that it's fictionalized. Unlike Salutin's assumption, I'd assume most people would make a distinction between the Stan's to some extent. I'd assume most people would see Afghanistan as a special case, has lots of terrorists, war torn etc, Pakistan like India but Muslim and all the other 'stans' pretty much the same as each other, but different from the previous two, some with a lot of Russians in them, all post-communist, and probably somewhat backward but not Muslim.
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Merowe
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posted 17 November 2006 04:24 PM      Profile for Merowe     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, there you go. In his own words, from the Rolling Stone interview:

"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."


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Merowe
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posted 17 November 2006 04:29 PM      Profile for Merowe     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
urp. double post.

[ 17 November 2006: Message edited by: Merowe ]


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M. Spector
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posted 17 November 2006 04:58 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Here's a link to the Salutin column so everyone can read it.

And here are some more incisive excerpts:

quote:
His secret mission, I'd say, is to assure Western audiences who go to his film, that the enemy “we” face really is as daft and detestable as earnest propagandists like George Bush (or Mark Steyn, in his new book) say they are. His main weapon in making this point is not the way he lampoons and deceives the dupes he meets along his way: feminists, suburbanites, college kids or the pitiful Romanian peasants he uses to depict his Kazakh hometown.

His main proof is himself: He is misogynist, bestial, endlessly anti-Semitic and stupid. If there's genius in the film, it's in the way Borat/Cohen manages to conceal the real target of his character assassination: himself.


[ 17 November 2006: Message edited by: M. Spector ]


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
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posted 18 November 2006 02:06 AM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Merowe:
Well, there you go. In his own words, from the Rolling Stone interview:

"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."


Watching the introduction, and credits, to Borat, all one needs to do is look at the quality of the film, and the soviet style "national anthem" where they have pictures of factories, and loud gawdy music, with crowds marching to conjure up that image.


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brookmere
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posted 18 November 2006 04:56 AM      Profile for brookmere     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
quote: Originally posted by Cueball:
it is my understanding that Romanians is a term derived from the relationship of this people to the Holy Roman Empire, and not Roma people (aka Gypsies.)

This is correct.



Well no.

The Holy Roman Empire, as a wise person once said, was neither holy, roman, nor an empire. It was a loose confederation of German statelets which lasted for the better part of a millenium until it was finally put to rest by Napoleon. Also known as the First Reich, its territory did not include or adjoin present-day Romania, which during that period was part of the Hungarian Kingdom and Ottoman Empire for the most part.

The name Romania comes from the Roman Empire (the real one), of which Romania (then called Dacia) was a part, and the Romanian language is clearly of Latin origin (the only such language in Eastern Europe).

[ 18 November 2006: Message edited by: brookmere ]


From: BC (sort of) | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
aka Mycroft
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posted 18 November 2006 09:14 AM      Profile for aka Mycroft     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Romanian is actually closer to Latin (in sentence structure in particular) than Italian is.
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Cueball
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posted 18 November 2006 11:15 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
brookmere: Actually I malapropped the HRE, when I meant Byzantine, but the information you provide is more correct, than my original assertion, and in line with the article I posted immeditaly below what you just quoted. I did not bother correcting my original assertion.

I was wrong in my original assertion about the Byzantines too, though they are more closely associated with Rome proper and have a direct historical link.

quote:
Originally posted by Merowe:
I think referencing Said's Orientalism is overkill, working too hard. As I said before, Cohen's construction of a fictional outsider is a device designed principally to reflect on western values rather than to project ours onto a suitably vague stereotype; it permits him to step outside of WESTERN cultural norms with the intent of lampooning THEM, rather than taking easy shots at some purportedly simple 'Other'. At worst, Cohen doesn't give a toss for this other beyond the practical ends he puts it to.

Again, a primary theme in Said's Orientalism is the use of "eastern culture" as a means of reflecting the "ilicit" western culture. You are arguing the case that there is an Orientalist strain in the way Borat is constructed. Apparently, Cohen is now arguing that he is also lampooning Orientalism, more or less, as said in the Rolling Stone article.

[ 18 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


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Michelle
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posted 18 November 2006 11:18 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
So then...

quote:
does that mean we can go to the movie, or not?

I'm becoming torn on this. I really want to see the movie and judge for myself, but I'm not liking what I'm hearing about him taking advantage of those villagers.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 18 November 2006 07:25 PM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by brookmere:

The name Romania comes from the Roman Empire (the real one), of which Romania (then called Dacia) was a part, and the Romanian language is clearly of Latin origin (the only such language in Eastern Europe).

Oops. When I said, "this is correct," I hadn't noticed the "Holy" in the original post -- i.e. "Holy Roman Empire." My understanding is that in the (original genuine unholy) Roman Empire, retired soldiers could be given land way out in this eastern outpost. So they went out there, speaking Latin, and mixed with the local people. That's how we get a Romance language so far east.


From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 18 November 2006 07:58 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
We don't know that he entirely did take advantage, Michelle. According to something else I'd read, he paid double the going day rate for extras and Cohen and the crew made some donations... Can't remember where or the specifics.

Anyway, a lot of fuss seems to be coming of calling the film a documentary, and I find that a bit odd. It IS actually a form of documentary, although you could argue it's more a hybrid form because of the set-up of the fictional Borat character, but the responses to the character are what documentary's all about. People often think everything they see in a documentary is "real", but the truth is, you do a certain amount of set-up to get what you need. I mean, filmmakers like Alan King built their early reputations on stuff that was completely orchestrated, and to this day he (and others) unapologietically defend it as clear documentary.

Anyway, technically, they were shooting a documentary and did not lie. Whether they explained the treatment, scope, etc, is another question -- that isn't something most filmmakers would necessarily do. There are times when it just doesn't make sense to do that.

I'd still go see the movie. It's just lack of time and babysitters that are holding me back.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
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posted 19 November 2006 02:42 AM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
So then...

I'm becoming torn on this. I really want to see the movie and judge for myself, but I'm not liking what I'm hearing about him taking advantage of those villagers.


Well as a fan of 'Borat' before this dust up, I saw the movie on opening day. And frankly while Cueball et al make interesting arguments, I think their arguments are relatively hollow. That said, you'd have to see the movie to answer that question for yourself. So....at the very least you can download it from...well you know what to do.

Seriously, what I'm hearing about the villagers is about the only thing that bothers me as well. I don't think you would be able to seriously agree with these anti-muslim claims if you actually see the movie.


From: bleh.... | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Polunatic2
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posted 19 November 2006 07:54 AM      Profile for Polunatic2   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I saw the film last weekend and have to admit I laughed my ass off most of the way through.

I agree with comment above that he could have saved a few headaches by making up a fictional "stan" but the character was already established on Cohen's TV show.

I also agree that the main point is not about Khazaks but about ignorant Americans. Borat could have been one of the "Beverly Hillbillies". That many are unable to even understand that it is satire (and slapstick), sort of reinforces the point. They're laughing at themselves and don't even realize it.


From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
brookmere
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posted 20 November 2006 02:42 AM      Profile for brookmere     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:
Its really interesting how, despite all its faults, how actively the USSR pursued anti-racism.

Cough.

Divide-and-conquer policies in the Caucasus and Central Asia. 1920's-1940's.
Ukrainian genocide, 1930's.
Mass deportations of Crimean Tatars, Chechens, ethnic Koreans and many others with high fatality rate, 1940's.
Liqudation of cultural, academic, and religious leaders in Western Ukraine and Baltics, 1940's.
Anti-Semitism, ongoing.

They didn't call Stalin the destroyer of nations for nothing.

And I may ask - if the USSR had pursued such effective anti-racism policies for generations, why is there so much overt racism in Russia today?

"Borat" tie-in: due to Stalin's policies, the Kazakhs are a minority in their own country today.


From: BC (sort of) | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 20 November 2006 07:20 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Andrei Shukhov, writing in Karavan, a "leading weekly tabloid" in Kazakhstan, has described Borat as the best film of the year.

[quote]"Cultural Learnings is certainly not an anti-Kazakh, anti-Romanian or anti-Semitic.… It is a cruelly anti-American movie. … It is amazingly funny and sad at the same time," reviewer Andrei Shukhov wrote in Friday's paper.

CBC story


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
igor
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posted 20 November 2006 09:41 AM      Profile for igor   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, let me just say that as an Eastern European with a number of Roma and Romanian friends, I didn’t find the movie at all offensive (neither did my friends). I didn’t find it particularly funny, but I do think it’s an important movie because:

  • Extremely poor villages do exist in Eastern Europe and are mostly populated by the Roma, who are openly discriminated against.
  • Anti-Semitism is as lively in Eastern Europe as it is anywhere else – the only difference is that people in the east are more open about it
  • Homophobia is almost state-sanctioned (anyone heard of skinheads beating the crap out of people at gay pride events, and the police just standing and watching?)
  • Westerners are still extremely ignorant about the eastern European culture (not to mention the Central Asian culture)
  • Western media do tend to present only the poorest aspects of Eastern Europe, but only for some kind of “shock” value and not to shine a light on numerous problems that exist.
  • Plus exposing the thin veil hiding many other western prejudices previously discussed in this thread

Under the premise that comedy is an art form, Mr. Cohen has every right to use any artistic means available to him in order to express his thoughts/feelings (including harsh satire). Before judging the movie, I suggest to everyone to see it and then try to understand why exactly it was made the way it was.


From: Toronto | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 20 November 2006 12:09 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by brookmere:

Cough.

Divide-and-conquer policies in the Caucasus and Central Asia. 1920's-1940's.
Ukrainian genocide, 1930's.
Mass deportations of Crimean Tatars, Chechens, ethnic Koreans and many others with high fatality rate, 1940's.


See, the problem here is in the manner in which you are cutting things up. Surely it is true that many Ukranians died because of the badly managed, and then alternately ruthless policies of the CPSU. However, there is a difference between that and exterminating people because they are Ukrainian.

It may seem that it fits a racist definintion, but this does not mean these things were meant to serve a racist purpose.

The primary motivation for the repression and deportation of minority populations was not because they were members of this or that particular cultural group, but because (sometimes completely unjustly) those national groups harboured sessionist ideas.

There is a difference between acting because you believe that you are repressing nationalist rebelion and killing people off just because they are Chechen. Granted these defintions become blury, and traditional prejudices no doubt arose in the everday application of Soviet policy as it was expressed by those who were part of the system, and the system was high handed in almost all of its activities, but there is a difference between that and having a racist policy, which persecutes people because of their ethnicity.

I don't think you are looking very closely at modes in which Soviet power operated. This is not to say that great harm and attrocities were not committed, but to say they were done for a racist purpose is to gloss over the reality.

For instance, the massacre at the Katyn forest of Polish officers was not an act of racism against Poles, though you and some others might like to construe it as such. Actually it was a following through of many of the ideas that people in the CPSU had about class. In other words, what was important about the officers was not that they were Polish but that they were officers, and therefore largely bourgiose.

The policy of the USSR toward Polish enlisted men was completely different, and though not pleasantly treated, they were not simply shot, as the officers were. Likewise, many Soviet officers were shot during the purge, more or less because they came from the wrong kind of class background.

Class loyalty, however hamfistedly defined played a huge role in how the early CPSU characterized it scapegoats, and race was much further backgrounded as a motive factor.

[ 20 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
arborman
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posted 20 November 2006 12:19 PM      Profile for arborman     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:


The primary motivation for the repression and deportation of minority populations was not because they were members of this or that particular cultural group, but because (sometimes completely unjustly) those national groups harboured sessionist ideas.

There is a difference between acting because you believe that you are repressing nationalist rebelion and killing people off just because they are Chechen. Granted these defintions become blury, and traditional prejudices no doubt arose in the everday application of Soviet policy as it was expressed by those who were part of the system, and the system was high handed in almost all of its activities, but there is a difference between that and having a racist policy, which persecutes people because of their ethnicity.


Well, call me a reductionist, but I don't much care if members of particular ethnic groups were slaughtered because they were of that group or because their existence was an incovenience to those in power. It's still slaughter.

In other words, who cares what the motives were, millions died and millions more had their cultural identities and groups utterly smashed.

So forcing a famine in the Ukraine that kills millions is either a deliberate genocide or just plain political brutality. It makes little difference - it's still brutality against an ethnic group. I think you are splitting hairs in defense of the indefensible.

It's an odd contrast with your blistering criticism of the NDP for minor differences in policy action. Soviets murdering thousands and millions - well, they were fighting a class war, it's not really genocide. NDP participating in Canadian politics - it's a sellout of all that is valuable and good in the world! Sound the alarum!.


From: I'm a solipsist - isn't everyone? | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 20 November 2006 12:28 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
And I don't think you have ever bothered to actually read anything I am saying.

Excerpts from Cueball's post, which is being defined as a "defence of the indefensible;"

"...ruthless policies of the CPSU."

"...and the system was high handed in almost all of its activities..."

"...the massacre at the Katyn forest..."

If we were to leave history up to people like you we would simply have book after book, repeating the phrase "the horror, the horror," ad infintutm, as any discussion which ever attempted to look at the causes of things, or discuss what motivated the people involved would be deemed the "defence of the indefensible."

"Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot. Its all the same!"


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 20 November 2006 12:43 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
arborman: It's an odd contrast with your blistering criticism of the NDP for minor differences in policy action. Soviets murdering thousands and millions - well, they were fighting a class war, it's not really genocide. NDP participating in Canadian politics - it's a sellout of all that is valuable and good in the world! Sound the alarum!.

In point of fact, the social democratic predecessors of the NDP in countries like Germany and England supported the fratricidal slaugher of World War 1. The Commies were the peaceniks. How many millions died in that war? Only the Leninist Bolsheviks, James Connolly's Irish political organization, and some Bulgarian leftists opposed that slaughter among the "Social Democrats" of the day that included the two broad trends in the working class movement. In fact, the historical origin of the split between the predecessors of the NDP and the Communists predates the Russian Revolution. The NDPers, or their equivalent, were in favour of the mass butchery of WW1. Uncomfortable facts.

This is rather strange in any case. The Soviets should be compared with what was likely to replace them, not some social democratic party in Canada 50 years later. When the "Whites" for instance, took power in the Civil War, they didn't hesitate to slaughter all the ministers of a government (the 26 Commisars). And we see today, with the restoration of capitalism in Russia over the last 15 years, a shocking, unprecedented drop in life expectancy [of upwards of 10 years among men - an unheard of change in "peace" time] and a loss of production that matches the Nazi invasion and occupation of WW2.

Oh yea. I call bullshit on this:

quote:
Borat" tie-in: due to Stalin's policies, the Kazakhs are a minority in their own country today.

A simple Wiki/CIA Factbook search shows this to be false. Kazakhs are over 50% of the population.


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 20 November 2006 12:57 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
If I shared any of the quirvering sensitivity about what is said about my party (meaning the one it is presumed I belong because I don't slither and scrape in obesiance to the great moustache, even though I am not now, and have never been a member of that party to which I am presumed to belong,) I would surely have blown all my hemroids out of my ass.

[ 20 November 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
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posted 20 November 2006 03:52 PM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The point about the Kazahk's being a minority in their own country isn't true anymore, but it was up to the point of Kazakhstan's independence. As it relates to the Soviet Union's policies, they did target various minorities, because they were minorities not because of their class orientation, but because of their ethnic origins. Take the Volga Germans for instance who lived in Southern Russia since the time of Catherine the Great, they were forcibly removed from their homes during world war two, because Stalin felt they might rebel. Even though they weren't considered 'true' Germans by the Nazi's, their ethnic origins and the thought that they would rebel or collaborate with the invading German Army, were the sole reasons why Stalin ordered them deported to areas in Central Asia, including Kazakhstan. That deportation, and the 'colonization' by Russians of Kazakhstan, made ethnic Kazahks a minority in their own country for many years.

[ 20 November 2006: Message edited by: Vansterdam Kid ]


From: bleh.... | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 20 November 2006 04:29 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
This thread is definitely long enough. But if you want to continue in a new one, I guess I can't stop you.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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