In the LA Times, Joel Stein has a complaint:
In "Borat," the highest-grossing film in the country for the second week in a row, [Sacha Baron] Cohen uses the friendly Central Asian to fool unsuspecting Americans into revealing their cultural ignorance (a Southern dinner host politely shows him that his feces go in the toilet, not in the bag he’s presented her with), anti-Semitism (a gun shop owner demonstrates which gun is best for shooting a Jew), homophobia, sexism and hatred of Muslims (we’re going to need to come up with a word for that). And now he’s tricked journalists â€” who have the distinct advantage of knowing that he’s not real â€” into showing how much they’re willing to compromise to save our dying industry. No one has been this desperate to sound cool since Pat O’Brien stopped drunk dialing.
Yes, it’s really been disappointing seeing the drop in quality of the usually hard-hitting, confrontational interviews that come off the junket circuit. We still think back fondly to the day we made the Dardenne brothers weep at the online round-table for "L’Enfant": "Let’s be honest. How much would a baby really fetch in Belgium these days? Well? Well?! TALK RIGHT INTO THE RECORDER, THE BATTERIES ARE DYING!!!" Fortunately for Mr. Stein, Rolling Stone has a taste of its cover story up online: Neil Strauss’ interview with a not-in-character Baron Cohen:
"Borat essentially works as a tool," Baron Cohen says. "By himself
being anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their
own prejudice, whether it’s anti-Semitism or an acceptance of
anti-Semitism. ‘Throw the Jew Down the Well’ [a song performed at a
country & western bar during Da Ali G Show] was a very
controversial sketch, and some members of the Jewish community thought
that it was actually going to encourage anti-Semitism. But to me it
revealed something about that bar in Tucson. And the question is: Did
it reveal that they were anti-Semitic? Perhaps. But maybe it just
revealed that they were indifferent to anti-Semitism.
"I remember, when I was in university I studied history, and there
was this one major historian of the Third Reich, Ian Kershaw. And his
quote was, ‘The path to Auschwitz was paved with indifference.’ I know
it’s not very funny being a comedian talking about the Holocaust, but I
think it’s an interesting idea that not everyone in Germany had to be a
raving anti-Semite. They just had to be apathetic."
+ Joel Stein: Borat’s biggest patsies — reporters (LA Times)
+ Sacha Baron Cohen – The Real Borat – Finally Speaks (Rolling Stone)
+ Stand-in village for Borat’s hometown furious (Reuters)
+ What’s real in "Borat"? (Salon)