October 22, 2020
The gloves – and other items of clothing – are off as Sacha Baron Cohen unleashes a stateside stunt spree and political satire fest
Borat’s first visit to the US happened in that impossibly distant, innocent time – 2006 – before social media, before smartphones, before the Iraq war “troop surge” when George W Bush was the most awful president imaginable.
America was hardly unused to being pranked: it had invented Candid Camera. But Sacha Baron Cohen’s monstrous creation, the clueless reporter from Kazakhstan with a daft all-purpose Soviet accent, was a next-level ordeal for his victims. With breathtaking ruthlessness, Baron Cohen executed situationist stunts and gross out hoaxes that skewered Americans’ conservative attitudes, but also their painfully polite need to be nice, and to overlook (or maybe secretly sympathise with) Borat’s antediluvian views. Borat is an antisemite, and the liberal moviegoing fanbase was, and is, very unused to seeing antisemitism in any costume other than that of Nazi Germany.