In the Dark

Cross-Cultural Follies

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make
Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Produced by Everyman Pictures
Directed by Larry Charles
Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, and Dan Mazer
Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Babel
Produced by Anonymous Content and Zeta Film
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga
Distributed by Paramount Vantage

Sacha Baron Cohen is an investor’s dream.  His movie, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, is reaping a return of Midas proportions at the multiplexes.  Everything the film mockingly touches—hopeless poverty, inveterate misogyny, sexual degradation, lethal tribalism, even animal cruelty—has turned to pure gold.  Borat, America’s number-one movie as I write one week after its release, has already raked in a cool $68 million.  Not bad, considering it cost $18 million to make.

I congratulate Cohen, but I feel bound to warn him there’s danger ahead.  A fatwa will surely be hurled at his gourd-shaped head any day now.  Whether through bravery or foolishness, he has courted the wrath of Muslims in high places.  His film flaunts an exceedingly provocative premise. ...

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