Humor is subversive.
Lenny Bruce knew that. Other comedians throughout the ages, including ancient Greece, also have known that. To mock a political stance is to show how absurd it is, how open to ridicule it is.
Sacha Baron Cohen's new Borat movie, creatively titled Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, may not be a comedic masterpiece, but it is damn funny.
Laurel, my wife, and I rarely laugh out loud during movies, even when we are watching them at home. But last night we fired up the Amazon Prime app on our television and hugely enjoyed Borat 2, the shorter way of referring to this film.
Yes, laughter was audible in the Hines home. We like dark edgy humor, and there was plenty of that in Borat 2.
To answer the most pressing question first, in regard to the Rudy Giuliani episode near the end of the movie it looked to me like Giuliani was tucking in his shirt rather than playing with himself in the bedroom scene with Borat's daughter, Tutar, played by a marvelous actress.
The Borat line "She 15, she too old for you," uttered as he rushes into the bedroom trying to stop whatever might happen between Giuliani and the girl (who actually is 24) has echoes of Jeffrey Epstein. I'm sure Giuliani thought the woman pretending to be a journalist was older than 18, but this 74 year-old clearly was trying to set up a date, or whatever, with her.
Which reflects the overall theme of Borat 2.
Right-wing Republicans (is there any other kind these days?) talk a lot about morality, but they do a crappy job of living up to those words. So Cohen had a lot of targets to point his comedic artillery at in the movie. For example...
Children in cages -- Borat puts Tutar in a cage, this being how female children are treated in Kazakhstan. Also of course in the United States under Donald Trump's immigration policies.
Anti-Semitism -- Tutar isn't allowed to read books, but she discovers Facebook, a different sort of book. There she sees a post saying the Holocaust never happened. This disturbs Borat. However, a visit to a synagogue leads to a conversation with a Holocaust survivor, who assures Borat that the Holocaust is true. This restores Borat's faith in humanity. Or rather, inhumanity.
Trump supporters -- Borat crashes an actual Trump rally in Olympia, Washington. He ends up on stage, singing a song to the delight of the crowd. A movie review says:
“Obama was a traitor, America, he hate her. He belong inside the jails,” Cohen-as-Borat sings, affecting a country-western twang, at the March for Our Rights event. “I ain’t lying, ain’t no jokes, corona is a liberal hoax. Corona is a liberal hoax.”
He continues in song: “Obama, what we gonna do? Inject him with the Wuhan flu. Dr. Fauci, what we gonna do? Inject him with the Wuhan flu.”
Later, Cohen-as-Borat asks the crowd whether they should inject journalists with the coronavirus or “chop them up like the Saudis do.” The crowd cheers loudly.
Racism -- Hoping to give his daughter to Vice-President Pence, Borat infiltrates CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit and saying he is Steven Miller, Trump's anti-immigrant front man.
Now, I'm sure conservatives would say that if there was a right-wing Sacha Baron Cohen, it would be possible to make an equally mocking movie of liberal excesses. To some extent that's true. But here's the thing.
Modern day liberalism is much more moderate than modern day conservatism. The Republican Party has bought into the Trump clown show almost completely, while the Democratic Party has come together around Joe Biden, who is pleasingly centrist and sane.
So it was easy for Cohen to push the boundary of right-wing politics into absurd comedic territory, because Republicans are so close to that boundary all the time. Every time Trump talks, what he says is laughable. Yet Trump's devotees don't laugh, they applaud. And that's really funny.
Watch the new Borat movie. I merely scratched the surface of the laugh-at-loud bits. A scene in a right-to-life counseling center with Borat and his daughter was a highpoint for me (and a lowlight for right-wingers with no sense of humor). Here's the movie trailer to whet your appetite for it.