N.Y. Times reporter Sharon Waxman points out the existence of some obviously insincere anti-Semitic humor in Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (20th Century Fox, 11.3).
Waxman notes that Borat, “a racuous comedy, seems certain to raise hackles and induce squirming by making comic points by seeming to embrace sexism, racism, homophobia and that most risky of social toxins: anti-Semitism.” The operative term, obviously, is “seeming,” as in “putting on” and/or “placing within quotes.” And yet Waxman seems to be absorbing Borat‘s sense of humor in a fairly literal vein.
“In one scene Borat insists on driving to California rather than flying, ‘in case the Jews repeat their attack of 9/11,'” she writes. “As he tours the South, he becomes terrified when he learns that an elderly couple who run an inn are Jewish. When cockroaches crawl under the door of his room, he becomes convinced the innkeepers have transformed themselves into bugs, and throws money at them.
“In another scene Borat returns to his home village and participates in an annual ritual, ‘The Running of the Jews,’ complete with giant Jew puppets that the villagers beat with clubs.
“This anti-Semitic humor is mixed in with other outrageous behavior, including slurs against Gypsies and gays, and a nude wrestling match. But in a world in which resurgent anti-Semitism has become — sometimes literally — an explosive topic, the movie may well hit a particular nerve, especially in Europe.”
I didn’t see Borat at Cannes last May because it played at midnight, and I probably won’t see it tomorrow (Thursday) night at the Toronto Film Festival because it’s playing at midnight. Well, maybe I’ll go if I can find two or three Red Bulls to chug. I just hate getting to bed at 2:30 or 3 ayem and getting up at 7 ayem. Throws off the whole damn day.