Borat Sequel Is An Arrogant And Ignorant European Insult To Average Americans

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Sacha Baron Cohen attends the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

In 2006, I was 17 when the first Borat movie, known formally as Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, was released. At that point, I’d only traveled to the United States once. Like most British people who “went to America once,” that trip was to Orlando, Florida…

As a teenager, the first Borat movie was beyond hilarious. For the average British citizen whose knowledge of the United States is provided by such supposed “exposés” of American culture, the movie seemed to align perfectly with what we already “knew” about our trans-Atlantic cousins. While most of the jokes were fairly inoffensive, even the political scenes — such as the implication that overt racism is greeted with casual and enthusiastic cheers during rodeos — didn’t raise any eyebrows.

Last weekend, I watched the second Borat movie, titled Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. In many ways, this movie was just a standard comedic reinvention of a successful predecessor. In many other ways, it was an attempt by Sacha Baron Cohen to profit from reliable anti-Trump “clapter,” an increasingly fruitless tree which comedians continue to shake for their adoring coastal audiences.

The focus of the second Borat movie was obviously to target Trump and the Republican Party, culminating in an underwhelming “gotcha” for Rudy Giuliani. However, while Cohen’s obvious anti-conservative obsession is arguably un-amusing, the core problem is not the movie’s political bias. It’s the fact that Cohen is prostituting the character of average Americans for the amusement of arrogant Europeans who look down their noses at those far less civilized folks across the sea.

I watched Borat Subsequent Moviefilm as a 31-year old who has lived in the United States since 2013, and has enjoyed the pleasure of meeting the “type” of Americans who previously existed only as caricatures in snobbish British and European satire. Now, I know better. Now, I know who Americans are and what Americans are. Now, I see what Borat — and Sacha Baron Cohen — really is.

Sacha Baron Cohen went to a private school before attending Cambridge University (the second-most famous university in a town called Cambridge). After a successful career on screen, he has amassed a personal net worth of $160 million. Through the sporadically-blind eyes of the judgmental Left, he is the very essence of privilege. Yes, much of Cohen’s success is well deserved. His comedic characters are smart and interesting, and his ability to elicit self-deprecating awkwardness from unsuspecting people is truly astonishing. However, there is a vast difference between tricking public figures into embarrassing situations and carefully editing interactions with average private citizens in order to humiliate them on a global scale, as hoards of privileged, arrogant and ignorant audience members guffaw and applaud.

The average Americans Cohen used — and then carelessly discarded — included a delivery driver whom he apparently encourages to help unbox and then re-box his smuggled daughter, a babysitter who is appalled by the faux bigotry of Borat and his culture, and a cake shop owner who is asked to decorate a cake with “Jews will not replace us.” The real-life babysitter said that she felt betrayed, and the Observer portrayed the “helpful cake designer” as openly bigoted, because she “happily scribbles ‘Jews will not replace us’ on a chocolate cake for Borat without missing a beat. The customer is always right!” Who cares if normal people suffer, as long as it gets a few laughs along the way.

Politicians and other public figures are fair game. Private citizens are not, and certainly not when their humiliation is guaranteed by careful editing and abuse of awkward politeness. If I viewed this movie as the same ignorant 17-year old who enjoyed the first, I would have reached the conclusion Cohen wants to force down our throats: Americans are hypocritical, bigoted, and stupid. If they happen to be — gasp — Republicans, even worse. I am ashamed of my past ignorance, but relieved that I now know different.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of those for whom Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was another European attempt at “teaching” viewers about the United States. 

Ian Haworth is host of The Ian Haworth Show and The Truth in 60 Seconds. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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