Friday, November 10, 2006


Even more controversy about Borat (which I'm seeing tonight, and I can't wait!). A couple of fraternity members are suing and claiming that they were misled and intoxicated by the producers, and that they did not agree to allow footage of them to appear in the movie.

What's interesting to me is that I suspect these, er, young men, are members of precisely the demographic that purchases the lion's share of Girls Gone Wild videos (and thus, statistically speaking, likely purchasers of the videos themselves), which have been subject to similar allegations of dishonesty and unfair manipulation of the women who appear in them (not to mention rape). The difference here is that these men were simply invited to share their thoughts, whereas the women are cajoled into removing their clothing and more. Which do you find more demeaning?

An optimistic part of me hopes that maybe having the camera turned around to the other side might give these men pause the next time they think of purchasing products that harm women in much the same way (I'd argue worse) they believe they've been harmed. But, given the comments they apparently made on camera (their Mel Gibson defense notwithstanding), I kind of doubt it.

Anyway, I'm psyched about seeing the movie! And also proud of myself that I'm able to turn just about anything into a feminist issue ;)



At November 11, 2006 at 4:23 AM, Blogger NWsixer said...

Hope you enjoy Borat!

Small name drop: The man himself is a top chap, and from just down the road from me (NW6 is a London zip code, and Sacha Baron Bohen lives in NW10)... plus he brought Matt Stone and Trey Parker to a house warming party of a friends and made then record his answerphone message in a Cartman voice.

Damn cool.


At November 11, 2006 at 9:32 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Oh my God sixer. You just made me so jealous it hurts ;)

At November 13, 2006 at 5:42 PM, Blogger Andy said...

What I find demeaning and offensive is people who simply refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. "I was drunk!" Well, what rock did you grow up under, not knowing that alcohol impairs your judgment and relaxes inhibitions? You got drunk, there were cameras rolling...if someone took advantage of that, you haven't got anyone to blame but yourself, whether you flashed your breasts for all of America to see, said horrible racist things, or had a Mel Gibson style meltdown. The alcohol excuse didn't work for Mark Foley, it didn't work for Gibson, and it won't and shouldn't work for the Borat frat boys or for any of the Girls Gone Wild. It's called judgment, people.

PS, I know this quote will come back to haunt me when I run for president.

At November 14, 2006 at 12:23 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Andy, generally agreed. What I find very difficult to believe, and I say this as someone who's blacked out from alcohol her fair share of times, is that you would say something you didn't believe even a tiny bit on some level. When I'm drunk, I cuss a lot (meaning a lot more than normal) and slur my words and sometimes bother people I shouldn't bother (including my mom. Yes, I have drunk-dialed my mom, and we're still on good terms). Strangely, though, I've never said anything anti-semitic, racist, homophobic, misogynist, or otherwise churlish. At worst I might make fun of people (meaning, specific people I know, not a broad category of people) more vociferously or crudely than I normally would, but I don't go around making grand statements about how women should be slaves or asking how the "bitches" are in a visitor's country (things these frat boys actually said).

And, come on. They're frat boys. Everyone knows they're unenlightened, they just happened to be the lucky ones who got to prove it to the country. They honestly expect us to think that in their daily lives they're well-mannered, respectful, and open-minded? Come ON.

At November 15, 2006 at 10:55 AM, Blogger byrdeye said...

^ I agree. The "drunken defense" is invalid.

As far as Sascha himself, he is funny, but also racist against Central Asians/Arabs (naturally, being a Jew). If he would have made this movie lampooning Israel instead, all hell woulda broke loose.

At November 15, 2006 at 10:58 AM, Blogger byrdeye said...

In fact, why isn't the ADL and B'nai Brith protesting his movie - which creates many false stereotypes about Kazakhs? Oh yea, they're Jewish and don't give a fvck about some dirty, backwards Central Asians/Arabs.

At November 15, 2006 at 11:44 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Um, thanks for the, er, interesting link, byrd.

I can't speak to Baron Cohen's racism -- he doesn't strike me as a racist, but who knows. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Jews are particularly racist against Arabs, I suppose some are, but so are plenty of white people, Asians, blacks, Hispanics, etc., etc., especially what with the U.S. government all but deciding they're all evil terrorists. I know lots of Jews and not a one of them has anything against Central Arabs/Asians. Hell, I'm Jewish on my maternal great-grandmother's side and I don't have anything against them.

I took the Borat-from-Kazakhstan schtick to be not a poke at Kazakhstan, but at American/western ignorance. Baron Cohen is making fun of the fact that we westerners think we're so superior to all other countries, and if it has a strange-sounding name and a different alphabet, it's backwards, full of incest, and lacking basic plumbing. Borat was a charicature of western stereotypes about foreigners. I don't believe for a second that Baron Cohen wants us to believe that Kazakhstan is a backwards, uncivilized country. He's pointing out how ridiculous we are for thinking our society is so superior. Most people don't get this joke, because most people are not as smart as me :D

The delicious irony is that, while playing this charicature of western stereotyping, he gets Americans to *agree* with some of the racist, sexist idiocy he spouts. It's genius. Pretend to be someone we think we're better than, and get people to agree with outrageous statements they later pretend they didn't mean. Talk about exposing western arrogance and ignorance in all its glory.

I'll defer to anyone who has specific evidence of racism on Baron Cohen's part, but otherwise, my view is that this was one of the most brilliant practical jokes ever played, on an entire society.


Post a Comment

<< Home