OP-ED: ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’ is a much-needed reminder of what comedy can be in 2020

Borat is all ready to go for his second stint on the big screen. (Photo by John Sciuli/Getty Images)

Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a simple man stricken with a terrible existence. Since his last appearance on the big screen in 2006, Borat found himself in the ruins of a gulag. Why? For the embarrassment he brought to his “great country of Kazakhstan” the last time he traveled abroad.

Then one day, Borat’s depressing life was once again changed forever when he was brought to his Premier and tasked with a “very important mission” to which he did not know the nature.

His Premier said, channeling his inner Greg Graffin, that there is a place Borat must go. Apparently, it is where everyone can be happy, and some say it is the most beautiful place in the world. His Premier even heard it is made of candy canes and planes and bright red choo-choo trains.

That is right, Borat was going back to the “US&A” and this time, his life actually depended on it!

“Get Kazakhstan into the ‘strongman’s club’ with Premier Donald Trump” was his mission.

Borat Sagdiyev was ready for America, but were they ready for him? The jury is still out on that one.

In today’s socio-political environment, comedy is a hot button issue. For whatever reason, some might say, society cannot take a joke. People are so “super cereal”. A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar… what happens? No one will ever know because before the comedian can get to the punch line, there is someone in the room saying, “Your idea of funny is not mine.”

Of course, it is a free society. Those people have every right to object to the joke in question, so too does the comedian have the right to ask the objector, “Why are you even here if you can’t handle the simplest of jokes?”

The question people are often asking in this “new age” of comedy is where does society draw the line between what is acceptable and what is not?

Lifelong comics are arguing that their livelihoods are going down the drain, because, in the words of Joe Rogan, “society has become soft” and comics cannot “share their art” with the world.

To these comedians, it is scary that Bill Burr’s “well crafted” Saturday Night Live monologue drew so much outrage from people that would have been laughing their asses off at Burr’s comical genius 25 years ago like he was the white version of Richard Pryor.

For Pete’s sake, they will say, not even Dave Chapelle can get away with pushing the boundaries anymore!

These transgressions have got comedians to ask themselves: What has society become?

Cuban comedian Joey “CoCo” Diaz said on his podcast called Uncle Joey’s Joint that Burr’s SNL monologue is comedy at its best. “People didn’t like Bill Burr’s standup on SNL because he was telling the truth. Comedy has come to the point where they want you to stand up on the stage for 45 minutes and blow smoke at them,” Diaz said. “In my opinion, this is the first time SNL had a ‘real comedian’ on in ages.

“Honestly, if you get insulted by words, especially Burr’s, standup comedy might not be for you. You’re better off going into your huts and watching The Walking Dead. Sometimes you people just can’t handle the truth.”

What truth is Diaz talking about? One of his peers might have the answer.

Actress and comedian Paula Patton once said when asked about what comedy is supposed to be, “Comedy is not supposed to be funny. It’s supposed to tell the truth and that’s what’s funny.”

Makes sense, right? That is the beauty of satire, the hidden truths which it contains.

Of course, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm pushed a lot of buttons and even caught Rudy Giuliani red-handed as Borat traveled through the “US&A” to give his daughter to Vice President Mike Pence as a gift.

For the most part, people LOVED the new Borat movie. The reviews were favourable and even the most uptight people could not stop themselves from laughing. Yes, there were a lot of folks who did not. They thought it was highly offensive and full of debauchery. It is not like they are wrong. That said, it is not like viewers of the film did not know what they were getting themselves into. It is satire.

They knew the movie was going to play like blink 182’s raunchy 1997 album entitled Dude Ranch. The film was going to be controversial, be full of vulgarities, and tactically sprinkle in little hints of the truth as the film progressed.

After all, is that not the crux of comedy, especially satire? The irony of it. The brashness of the truth.

For example, when Chris Rock makes a joke about being a black man in America and everyone in the audience laughs. The audience laughs because, deep down, it is true, and everyone knows it. That is what makes the joke funny. The irony, right?

How ‘bout when Chappelle’s Show debuted in 2003 with a controversial headlining skit entitled “The Black White Supremacist”? It was edgy and people laughed because of the irony of the skit. The irony that the white supremacist is black. Everyone knew Dave Chappelle was funny, but what made this skit probably one of his most talked about and most controversial in the show’s history is the level to which he sold it. The brashness of it all. It shined a bright light on how racist America can be. To sell the skit even further, Chappelle came out the next week and got what he called a “pretty white lady” to sing his thoughts so they were not viewed as “controversial” because they were “coming from a black man”. By doing so, he drove home his point even further. Adding to the joke using the medium of satire.

Here is one more final example: How ‘bout when Jeff Dunham brings out his puppet Bubba J? The puppet almost always plays the role of a stereotypical uneducated “redneck”. As he begins his set, Dunham will ask Bubba J how he is doing, to which the puppet responds, “PURDY GOOD!” The audience is not just laughing because of Dunham’s goofy theatrics for “Bubba Jay”, they are laughing because that is how most people expect the stereotypical “redneck” to act, sound, and look like. In other words, the audience, in a sense, is laughing at themselves and their idealizations of people in certain economic classes.

In a way, that is the beauty of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. The movie exposes all the stereotypes of today’s society. The film shows just how misogynistic society can be when most of the audience laughs at Borat’s treatment of his daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) early in the movie.

Borat himself shows us how racist society can be with his prejudicial thoughts and comments to people of colour and faith throughout the movie.

As a reminder, those same thoughts had some viewers laughing so hard they began to cry, once again, because of the brashness of the situations Borat was navigating through with little to no filter.

Almost like Borat’s Election Day message on Twitter, director Jason Woliner and star of the film Sacha Baron Cohen used Borat 2 to call society out on its nonsense. In reality, they were trying to use the movie to say, “Bro, you really need to get your shit together.”

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is the definition of what good, hard-hitting comedy should be. Borat 2 is what good satirical films look, sound, and feel like. The movie shows society the power of satire.

More impressively, Borat forced viewers to look in the mirror and “check themselves”. Not all movies can do that, especially satirical films. That is much needed. Not to mention, long overdue.

So, no, Borat 2 is not comedy’s curtain call. If anything, it should be comedy’s great awakening, because all forward progress in society takes place outside the comfort zone of what one would expect the societal norms to be.

You can follow Christian on Twitter @HolmesyWrites

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Christian Holmes

Christian Holmes

31 Followers

Isn’t it amazing where life takes you? One day you’re learning about how to throw a hip check. The next you’re writing about it! Low key fan of sarcasm.