Sacha Baron Cohen and the nation of Kazakhstan have had a pretty fractious relationship over the years, all thanks to the comedian’s beloved character Borat. The intrepid reporter may have been the star of two massively popular movies, but on both occasions he managed to upset the locals.
There was uproar when Borat first hit theaters in 2006, with Kazakh officials blasting the actor for making a mockery of their country, despite the huge influx in tourism that it brought. The fences looked to have been mended when the sequel hit Amazon Prime last month, though, and the nation even adopted one of the bumbling journalist’s signature catchphrases to entice people to visit Kazakhstan.
Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm has been dominating the headlines after duping a few high profile figures into some questionable scenarios and generally receiving enthusiastic reviews from critics and Amazon subscribers alike, but the Kazakh-American Association and the Council on American-Islamic Relations are now campaigning to have the pic banned from awards season consideration, and you can check out their reasons below.
“The Kazakh community worldwide is underrepresented and inherently vulnerable. Sacha Baron Cohen understands this fact and exploits the Kazakh people by hijacking our ethnic identity, whitewashing us, and inciting harassment toward us. Considering today’s socially aware political climate and the new diversity policies adopted by film associations worldwide, it is unbelievable that a film which openly berates, bullies, and traumatizes a nation of people of color is still an acceptable form of entertainment.”
You might not immediately think of Borat 2 as a potential awards season contender, but Cohen did win the Golden Globe for Best Actor – Musical or Comedy for the first effort, while he also scored an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the sequel’s breakout star Maria Bakalova is already being touted for the supporting actress categories.
Subsequent Moviefilm reportedly scored the second biggest digital debut of 2020 as well, meaning that tens of millions of people worldwide have already seen it. As such, it might be a bit too late for various organizations to try and erase the pic from the public consciousness at this point.