Despite all the rave reviews and boffo box office, I’ve had a distinctly uneasy feeling about Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat film– and therefore haven’t made an effort to see it.
Writing in The Guardian, Joe Queenan gets at what I think is the source of my unease:
When Borat was first released, blue-state sophisticates in New York and Los Angeles were delirious, overjoyed that Baron Cohen was savaging evangelicals and cowboys and hicks, as if this were either daring or original. Their rationale was that Cohen was merely playing with our heads, forcing us to reassess our convictions. No, he isn’t. Baron Cohen is just another English public school boy who hates Americans. It is fine to hate Americans; it is one of Europe’s oldest traditions. But the men who flew the bombing raids over Berlin and the men who died at Omaha Beach and the women who built the Flying Fortresses and Sherman tanks that helped defeat Hitler are the very same people that Baron Cohen pisses all over in Borat. A lot of folks named Cohen would not even be here making anti-American movies if it were not for the hayseeds he despises.
Harry says: Given Borat was originally created as a character who took the piss out of English public schoolboys, this line of argument seems particularly weak. I agree with Hitchens that one of the things Borat constantly shows is the remarkable patience and tolerance of ordinary Americans. I mean they actually did observe that ten minute silence remember?
What sort of impression of America does Queenan’s weary and po-faced reference to World War Two paint?