Borat



Borat Sagdiyev (assumed: Борат Сагдиев) is a Kazakh journalist character invented and portrayed satirically by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. Borat evolved from previous characters that Baron Cohen had developed; firstly an unnamed Moldovan TV reporter (for LWT/Granada TV and the BBC's Comedy Nation) and later an Albanian TV reporter called Kristo (for the Paramount Comedy Channel).

Borat appeared regularly on Da Ali G Show, for Channel 4, with sketches featuring him often relying on outrageous behaviour and actions, and the reactions of uninformed individuals around him. In some cases, Borat's guests embrace his anti-Semitism and misogyny by agreeing with him, while other guests attempt to explain Western values to him.

Borat is shown in each episode of Da Ali G Show, doing satirical interviews with various people who apparently do not realize the show's nature. He has visited the United Kingdom and the United States. Borat often finds himself in ridiculous situations that involve extreme physical comedy. Some have compared Baron Cohen's Borat character with some of Peter Sellers' work.

In order to pass himself off as a foreigner, Sacha writes his alleged notes in Hebrew, and uses occasional Polish words (Dziękuję thank you, Jak się masz? how are you?, Dzień Dobry good day, Przepraszam sorry, though never in the correct situations) when speaking to people—not using Kazakh or Russian (the state and official languages of Kazakhstan). This has nearly had Borat exposed as a fake in midfilming. He has also lapsed into Hebrew while purporting to sing the Kazakh national anthem (in fact a simple reciting of major Kazakh cities) at a Savannah Sand Gnats game. In Hebrew, he kept on repeating a famous folk song: קום בחור עצל וצא לעבודה (kum bachur atzel ve'tze la'avoda) [...] קוקוריקו קוקוריקו התרנגול קרא (kookooriku kookooriku ha'tarnegol kara) ("get up lazy guy and go to work [...] cock a doodle do the cock has crowed"), and also called Kazakhstan a "hole" (חור). The hair and moustache are real, and it takes Baron Cohen six weeks to grow them. The suit has never been washed, which may cause him to smell "foreign" to those he encounters, adding to the apparent authenticity of his character.

It has been suggested that Baron Cohen was influenced by Internet celebrity Mahir Çağrı; in fact Borat had been in development since at least 1995 (at LWT/Granada TV). During the DVD commentary of the first disc of season one of Da Ali G Show Baron Cohen says that the evolution of the Borat character was influenced by a real person he met in Southern Russia, "... I can't remember his name - he was a doctor. The moment I met him, I was totally crying - he was this hysterically funny guy, albeit unintentionally."

On November 3, 2005, Borat was the host of the MTV Europe Music Awards 2005 show in Lisbon.

Borat has been the cause of some controversy, mostly related to his frequent displays of anti-Semitism but also notably for his portrayal of Kazakh culture.

Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays Borat, is himself Jewish. He explains his character's racist nature by stating that the segments are a "dramatic demonstration of how racism feeds on dumb conformity, as much as rabid bigotry," rather than a display of racism by Baron Cohen himself.

However, the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish anti-racism group, complained to HBO after Borat performed a country western song that called on people to 'throw the Jew down the well', warning them that 'you must be careful of his teeth' and that 'you must grab him by his horns', to applause and participation from some members of an audience in Tucson, Arizona, while other audience members seemed stunned and dismayed by Borat's blatant display of anti-Semitism. The full chorus goes: "Throw the Jew down the well/So my country can be free/You must grab him by his money/Then we have a big party"

At a press conference just hours before the live broadcast of the 2005 MTV Europe Music Awards, he shocked local and international journalists in Lisbon by bringing a bag of birds from Romania (the first European country to detect avian influenza) as a gift, but proceeded to say he was sorry that they had all died.

An interview with James Broadwater, a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress, caused Broadwater to receive some hateful emails after an episode of Da Ali G Show aired in which Broadwater stated that Jews will go to Hell. He was told that the interview would be played in foreign countries to teach others about the American political system. Broadwater later posted a letter on his website denouncing Da Ali G Show, explaining that his statement referred to a theological belief that anyone that "accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour will spend eternity in Heaven, while everyone who rejects Him will spend eternity in Hell." Broadwater did not apologize for his comments, which some saw as insensitive and inflammatory. Instead, he insisted that "the liberal, anti-God media needs to be brought under the strict control of the FCC, and that as soon as possible."

In January 2005, after convincing the authorities that he was shooting a documentary, Borat managed to infuriate a crowd at a rodeo in Salem, Virginia, first by saying that "I hope you kill every man, woman and child in Iraq, down to the lizards...and may George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq", and then by rendering a mangled version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" that ended with the words "your home in the grave," the Roanoke Times reported. "If he had been out there a minute longer, I think somebody would have shot him," said one witness. "People were booing him, flipping him off." For his own safety, Borat was escorted from the venue.

In November 2005, following Borat's hosting of the MTV Europe Music Awards in Lisbon, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry voiced their concerns about the character. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yerzhan Ashykbayev told a news conference "We view Mr. Cohen's behaviour at the MTV Europe Music Awards as utterly unacceptable, being a concoction of bad taste and ill manners which is completely incompatible with the ethics and civilized behaviour of Kazakhstan's people", concluding "We reserve the right to any legal action to prevent new pranks of the kind."

Baron Cohen has since posted a video on the "Official Borat Homesite" where Borat responds to Ashykbayev in character. In the video, Borat states, in part, "In response to Mr. Ashykbayev's comments, I'd like to state I have no connection with Mr. Cohen and fully support my Government's decision to sue this Jew. Since the 2003 Tuleyakiv reforms, Kazakhstan is as civilized as any other country in the world. Women can now travel on inside of bus, homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats, and age of consent has been raised to eight years old. Please, captain of industry; I invite you to come to Kazakhstan where we have incredible natural resources, hardworking labour, and some of the cleanest prostitutes in whole of central Asia. Goodbye! "

Reuters quoted an unnamed Western diplomat as saying "They (the Kazakh Government) are damned if they do (respond) and damned if they don't," he said. "It's sort of unfortunate that he hit upon Kazakhstan."

The next week, the government hired two Western public relations firms to counter Borat's claims, and ran a four-page advertisement in The New York Times. The ad carried testimonials about the nation’s democracy, education system and the power and influence enjoyed by women. On a previous occasion, Borat responded to official Kazakh complaints by issuing his own "press release", which consisted of random Cyrillic characters.

On December 13, 2005 the right to use the domain name www.borat.kz was suspended, and the site attached to it went down. The domain-issuing body said that they took this action since false names were given for the site's administrators, and also because the site www.borat.kz was hosted outside Kazakhstan. However, the underlying cause of the action was in order to censor the content of the site: "We've done this so he can't badmouth Kazakhstan under the .kz domain name," Nurlan Isin, President of the Association of Kazakh IT Companies, told Reuters. "He can go and do whatever he wants at other domains."

Reporters Without Borders petitioned the ICANN ombudsman to intervene and reverse this decision. Meanwhile, the "Official Borat Homesite" was moved to the .tv domain, where it remains. (As of October 1, 2006, the former domain name was still suspended.)

Borat has, however, recently been defended by Dariga Nazarbayeva, a politician and the daughter of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. She stated on a national news program Karavan that Baron Cohen's website "damaged our image much less than its closure, which was covered by all global news agencies," and "We should not be afraid of humour and we shouldn't try to control everything, I think."

On September 29, 2006, Cohen appeared in character as Borat at the White House gates to invite "Premier George Walter Bush" to a screening of his forthcoming film, along with O.J. Simpson, "Mel Gibsons" and other "American dignitaries." Not surprisingly, Secret Service agents would not admit him to the grounds. The apparent publicity stunt was likely timed to coincide with an official visit by President Nazarbayev the following day.

Borat often discusses his family members with the people he interviews. Borat's sister, Natalya, is a prostitute (awarded "best sex in mouth" by the Almaty Chamber of Commerce, and rated the "number 4" prostitute in Kazakhstan) and the two of them like to pretend to be "husband and wife." He has a younger brother Bilo who is mentally ill. Bilo has a son born with an unusually excessive amount of body hair who travels "in a tent". Borat has another pubescent brother Vilo, who has grown a moustache since Borat left his home village. Borat states that the former has "small head, but very strong arm," and thus must be kept locked behind a metal door or in a cage. His relationship with his mother seems to be unpleasant, and Borat has commented that "she wishes she was raped by another man." According to the Official Borat Homesite, he also has an 11-year-old son named Biram, who is the father of his two grandchildren. Borat has a pet pig Igor which he claims to love, although he and his family end up eating it (including its eyes).

In one episode, Borat reveals that he suffered a "very bad gypsy attack," in which his wife and plough were stolen and "they touched his horse in a very bad way; it was depressed." Borat also claims to have previously worked as a Gypsy catcher, boasting that he can "hit a gypsy with a rock from fifteen metres away if chained—ten if not". Tragically, his first wife was accidentally shot in a field after a hunter mistook her for a bear. Borat was able to cope with the loss of his first wife and he has remarried several times. Still, Borat's exceptional sexual virility has compelled him to maintain extramarital relations with a girlfriend, a mistress, and at least one prostitute (although the latter relationship seems to consist exclusively of dancing). Incestuous relations with his sister, as well as incidents of bestiality with domesticated animals, and accidental homosexuality, have led some to question Borat's sexual ethics.

All the images where he is supposed to be in Kazakstan are actually filmed in Gypsy villages in Romania. The people, including those who are presented as being his family and friends, are Gypsies from poor remote villages. The theme song for his documentaries and that can be heard on his Myspace profile is a manele song.

Borat has a great admiration for Joseph Stalin, whom he describes as being both "strong" and "powerful". He believes politicians should be like him and have a big "khram". (Xpaм, literally "church building", but also slang for scrotum)

Sacha Baron Cohen is himself a Jew of Persian descent and uses the Borat character to expose anti-Semitism and racism. By having Borat make anti-Semitic and racist statements, Baron Cohen is able to show people's favourable reaction and thereby expose anti-Semitic/racist sentiment in society. While taking a self-defence class, Borat asked the instructor to teach him how to defend against the "Jew Claw", and then he made a claw with his hand and had the instructor defend himself against it. Similarly, while hunting he asked if it was legal to shoot Jews, to which his host replied that he would have no problem with that even if some would.

Borat has been known to talk about the fictional 'Tishniek' massacre, including during his 'Soul Motion' Dance class where he depicted the massacre and proceeded to explain how many Uzbekistanis were "crushed" on that day. He later told how he was "very proud" of the massacre and said it was not sad because "it is us who do the kill". He has also managed to persuade the Republican Committee of Pima County, Arizona to stand in silence for ten minutes to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the massacre.

He was shocked to discover that American women have the right to vote, while horses do not — whereas in Kazakhstan, the opposite holds true. On said discovery, he recited the "chain of importance" — "God, man, horse, dog, woman, then rat, then small krutzouli" — to a female voter. When looking for a home in the US, Borat stated that his wife was afraid of "men with chocolate face", referring to blacks.

Most of Borat's interviews carry a strong homoerotic undertone. Interviews inevitably involve discussion of "khram" or the sexual preferences of the interviewee or other celebrities, such as Freddie Mercury. Borat enjoys touching and holding men, but has a noticeable aversion towards women. Often he will kiss men on the cheek (and occasionally the lips) but when approached by a woman he will shy away or merely offer a handshake, an example of this being his report on Henley Royal Regatta where he kisses all the male members of a winning crew but not their female coxswain. This is not considered to be homosexual or even unusual behaviour in his homeland, however, and due to cultural differences it makes an easy joke. Borat describes his ideal mate as having at least some plough experience, no history of mental retardation in the family, and "no Jew." Additionally, he desires that they "must be tight like a man's anus," and claims that if they cheat on him, he will "crush them." On a video attached to his Myspace, he asks for male friends who are willing to have chats with him about music and rocket ships. On the official Borat website's response to the Kazakh government he mentions that "homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats" and on the front page of www.borat.tv he is seen wearing a blue hat.

Subtitled Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the film is a low-budget mockumentary comedy. The distributor of the film is 20th Century Fox and the director is Larry Charles. It debuted at the 2006 Traverse City Film Festival and is due for general release in November 2006.

Cyrillic code

In each Borat segment, there are Cyrillic letters behind the English captions. These letters are a rough cipher of the English text, according to the following correspondence:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Ф И С В У А П Р Ш О Л Д Ь Т Щ З Й К Ы Е Г М Ц Ч Н Я

The Cyrillic letters are not really the equivalents of the English ones for which they are substituted in this cipher. On a computer, this cipher can be produced by typing English letters on a standard QWERTY keyboard whilst having the standard Russian keyboard layout activated (QWERTY → ЙЦУКЕН).

For example, the caption "Borat's Guide to America" appears under the letters:

ПШВ ИЩКФЕФ Л ФЬУКШПШ (which would be pronounced, "PSHV ISHCHKIEF L F'UKSHPSH")

Which, deciphered, says:

GID BORATA K AMERIKI

Which, after transliterating back to Cyrillic, renders a sentence in Russian, which reads:

Гид Бората к Америке (Literally word for word: "Borat's Guide to America.")

This is broken Russian. It is more correct to say "Путеводитель Бората по Америке".

The correct English rendering would be PUTEVODITEL' BORATA PO AMERIKE.

* Barbara bush - literally "to eat the hair from the testes satchel"; (Barbara-To eat, Bush-Pubis region)-a reference to Barbara Bush
* Dzienkuje - "thank you" (from the Polish Dziękuję), sometimes used as a greeting in the opening of the Borat segments of Da Ali G Show. Also spelt as "Chenquieh" when written by Borat, e.g. his speech on the Kazakh embassy.
* Football - disease where a man grows a foot out of the testes satchel
* Hand relief - masturbation or sexual contact involving the hand
* Jagshemash - "how are you?" (from the Polish "Jak się masz?", the Czech "Jak se máš?" or from "Yakshimusiz", a greeting in many Central Asian languages including the Kazakh language), sometimes used as a greeting
* Khram - genitals
* Krutzouli - small or insignificant animal of ambiguous identity, placed below women in the fictional Kazakh caste system.
* Liquid explosion (sexy time explosion) - ejaculation
* Sexy time (sexy intercourse) - sexual intercourse
* Testes satchel - scrotum
* Vazhïn - vagina (once referred to as Shakira)
* Mouth Party - Oral sexPermission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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