Commentary: Shocked By Borat

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, November 10, 2006

The ad in the Sacramento Bee Called Borat, ”The most gaspingly hilarious movie of the year.” I like hilarious. But I had failed to focus on the other word in the ad – “gaspingly,” the root word being gasp, as to inhale suddenly in surprise or with effort, as in choking.

Had I paid more attention to that word, I would have been better prepared when I walked into the theater. This movie insults everyone: Jews, Christians, Muslims, blacks, whites, gays, fat people. The list goes on but I won’t.

To say this movie is obsessed with excrement and sex doesn’t quite hit the mark. Full frontal nudity, a man washing his face in a toilet, freshly produced human caca, key elements in three memorable scenes, give you a better idea.

I left this movie numb. Not quite knowing how to react. Should I have been amused, disgusted, insulted, liberated? What?

Here’s my final take – I think. For me the movie is a useful reminder of how repressed Americans can be. We live in hyper-sensitive times when every off-color joke can be twisted into a reputation-ruining gotcha. So, many of us emerge from Borat shell shocked, asking, “Can we really laugh at that?” For good or bad, Borat’s resounding answer is – let it rip.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.