Sunday, October 01, 2006

Although I think that Sacha Baron Cohen can often be hilarious, I do not understand why he had to make his Borat character a native of Kazachstan. It would not have been very difficult to invent some non-existent country by using the -stan suffix, by doing so he would have avoided unnecessary controversy and angry reactions from the side of the Kazakh authorities. There is no reason to antagonize just for the heck of it. On the other hand, as the daughter of Kazachstan's president said, "We should not be afraid of humour and we shouldn't try to control everything".
Baron Cohen regularly manages to convince some people that his characters are real. This reminds me of a couple of Dutch comedians who - talking and dressed up like two semi-underworld types from The Hague - in the late 1970s/early 1980s 'founded' a political party, the Anti-Party. Among other subjects, their political platform called for turning every Dutchman and -woman into a millionaire by selling the country to a foreign power and dividing the sale's proceeds among all Dutch citizens. Some people took them very seriously, it seems. In the months before the 1981 elections I had a poster of the 'party' on my bedroom window. A man who was going from door to door in our neighborhood, distributing flyers from the Dutch christian-democratic party, looked up at our window and continued walking, without putting a folder in our mailbox. My mother saw it, went out and asked him why we did not receive a flyer. He said: "I see you already made your choice."

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