Here’s a 9.12 Daily Mail story about the diplomatic impact of Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (20th Century Fox, 11.3).
It reads like a piece from The Onion but it’s not — it’s apparently been written with total sincerity. Could it possibly be an extra-covert continuation of the film’s put-on humor and/or ad campaign? I’m not 100% sure. A rigorously unhip view of Cohen’s film is that it trashes Kazakhstan by depicting its citizens as primitve, borderline idiotic anti-Semites. And yet that’s pretty much what it does…although the humor is in quotes.
“Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev is to fly to the United States to meet President Bush in the coming weeks and on the agenda will be his country’s image,” the piece begins. “Nazarbayev will visit the White House and the Bush family compound in Maine when he flies in for talks that will include the fictional character Borat.
“He has [also] confirmed his government will buy educational TV spots and print advertisements about the ‘real Kazakhstan’ in a bid to save the country’s repu- tation before the film is released in the U.S. in early November.
“Roman Vassilenko, a spokesman for the Kazakhstan Embassy, says it is unlikely that President Nazarbayev will find Borat funny. “The Government has expressed its displeasure about Borat‘s representation of our country,” he said. “Our opinion of the character has not changed. We understand that the film exposes the hypocrisy that exists both here in the USA and in the UK and understand that Mr. Cohen has a right to freedom of speech.
“I cannot speak for the president himself, only for the government, but I certainly don’t think President Nazarbayev and Mr Bush will share a joke about the film. The bottom line is we want people to know that [Cohen’s character] does not represent the true people of Kazakhstan.”