Saturday, April 28, 2007

Not Funny

Am I the only person on the planet who didn't find Borat funny?
We started watching it last night. I didn't find anything about the opening village scene funny. The only funny thing in the first fifteen minutes was the chicken getting out of his suitcase on the subway. And the fact that most Americans threatened him with violence. That seemed like an insight into Ameircan culture.
But the rest of it was just stupid. "Let's make fun of retarded people! And Jews! And women!" Haven't heard that since, when, seventh grade?
I appreciate complex humor. Even simplistic humor done well. But this wasn't any of that.
So we turned it off (and returned it, promptly, to Netflix), and watched some TV. It's depressing. The success of "Borat" and the general stupidity of the evening news does not give me hope for the future of the American people.


ErinAlice said...

I did not watch it because I knew I wouldn't like it. I can't stand stuff like that. It is just like one big practical joke and one of the things I can't stand are practical jokes. I also don't watch TV news. I read it or watch Jon Stewart, now he makes me hopeful.

Lisa B. said...

I agree with you, erinalice. That's exactly what I felt when I saw the previews and it got worse when I read reviews. That said, some extremely intelligent people who reviewed it felt it was something better. So I have reserved judgment on it. But that doesn't mean I have to watch it.

theorris said...

I won't invite you all over for the Police Academy festival, then.

Should I laugh that my "Word Verification" term is "dkswpiss?" Sounds like what a clueless D.J. would call himself.

Featuring D.J. D.K. Swiss Piss!

What an odd coincidence.

Dr. Write said...

See, that's the thing. I don't dislike Police Academy. It's stupid, but it's not fundamentally mean spirited. I said I like stupid if it's done well.
I love "Airplane."
I love "The Office."
I love "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (most of the jokes are about women, sex, or wine).

theorris said...

I quite agree with the anti-mean-spiritedness. Mean-spirited comedy just really isn't that funny. It is like watching a Nazi make a joke (as it were.)

In any case, the Office sometimes seems a bit off to me, but having known so many self-important wankers in my life it doesn't really seem that mean, given that the people deserve what they get.

theorris said...

Well I am afraid I will have to disagree on the Borat assessment, afterall. Tonight, you see, Borat the movie was brought over by housemate's girlfriend. At first I was quite hesitant to watch it, much like I'm hesitant to watch any comedy because they generally just play off the general racial and sexual stereotypes and are, ultimately, offensive, and because of your negative reaction to the first 15 minutes of the film. I decided, however, to give the movie a chance and edgily sat down to watch it, ready to head to bed whenever it became so boorish and offensive that I would either have to argue against vociferously or (as mentioned) just leave and ot be subjected to it.

Ultimately the first part of the movie is quite offensive to the made-up-country (even though it is a real country) that Cohen presents and to Jews and to Feminists, but unfortunately to leave the film at this offensive part is to miss the arc of the movie.

Borat is simply a movie about racism and sexism. Borat is an over-the-top naive character with a certain set of made-up (but none-the-less existent cultural bigotries) introduced into another culture that he has many preconceived notions about. Unfortunately those notions are somewhat correct and, what is more shocking, confirmed and made even worse by the people he sees.

Here is what I wrote to a friend who thought Borat was assinine--but amusing, moments ago:

"Actually I just finished watching Borat--I don't really think it is that asinine. It is rather a smart criticism of racism and sexism. I am astonished at what many of the people who were featured said or went along with. There are many scenes that explore this--most notably the scene in the gun store where the store owner shows no shock at all at Borat saying "so which weapon is best for killing Jews" or the scene in the Winebago with the 'young scholars' who proclaim how great it would be to have women as slaves or, in fact, how great it would be to have slaves in general."

Despite the unfortunate premise of the Khazahks (sp) Borat is an exploration of cultural, racial, and sexual stereotypes. Cohen is not just in it for the laugh. He's in it to expose the seedy underbelly of American hypocritical culture at its worst. Sure there is some asinine moments, but what better way to get a message across than through comedy?

He had guts making this movie. Not just because he threw himself in character into bizzaro situations, but also because he does have a point to all this. No his point was not to make fun of his made up country or Jews or women. His point is to show that "Borat's" provincial, limited, uneducated beliefs prevail right across America.

To give the film up after 15 minutes is a mistake.

Dr. Write said...

I can see how the movie could be making such a point. Another friend said she found the middle funny.
But I already know that some Americans are racist and hypocritical. How does a person, behaving in a false persona, goading them in to this behavior, prove that? It also proves that Americans don't like to disagree in public (go along to get along).
I also think that if you alienate your audience you haven't really gotten your message across.
Having said that, I realize I am not the audience. And I also didn't waste two hours of my life learning something I already knew. (But I do like to laugh...)

Condiment said...

Did not see and probably won't since I don't watch movies but I have enjoyed Da Ali G show from time to time...

theorris said...

Well I agree with that, Dr., but I am also encouraged by the movie in that it actually took on the topic of racism and sexism head-on, as it were.

There is one particularly touching scene where Borat, in Atlanta, approaches a group of Black kids and talks to them without compunction and without the typical fear that is assigned to them. The kids were cool and laughed with him, unlike the wacko gun store owner who was more than happy to sell him a gun to "kill Jews."

I don't necessarily think that funny is all Cohen is going for in his work. Nor is he going after people mean-spiritedly.

Scorpion's Tail said...

I haven't yet seen the movie, but want to...and these comments are VERY interesting because I can really relate to everything that is being said....and just (ok so this is gonna sound touchy feely dopey) so happy to have such smart, interesting friends who care and comment on the world. Thanks!

Anonymous said...


All these comments are interesting, but I have to say that even as a Jew, this was one of the funniest movies ever. First of all, this is a satire, not a movie motivated by racism. Secondly, Sasha Baron Cohen is a VERY RELIGIOUS JEW!!! Anyone that thinks he's offensive is in a completely different planet and was obviously oblivious to what happened in the movie.