This November 3rd will mark a great turning point in American popular culture. A turning point that will polarize an entire generation. On this day, the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – the docu-comedy based around the fish-out-of-water adventures of an awkward Eastern European correspondent created by Sacha Baron Cohen – opens nationwide – and will no doubt quickly be lumped in the same company as Old School, Anchorman, Wedding Crashers, and Chappelle’s Show.
The reason I include Borat in the same league as those other contemporary comedic gems is because, much like its brethren, the opening of the Borat movie will expose Cohen’s comedy to a much broader audience than his HBO television show ever did. And while I look forward to seeing the film (any movie that makes Larry David laugh uncontrollably in a preview screening is something I want to see), I simultaneously dread the inevitable co-opting and bastardization of the character’s unique phrases and mannerisms by the fly-over states. Soon, every Midwest frat boy with a white hat curved “just so” will be launching into what they assume to be a perfect Borat imitation. “Is Nice!” is bound to become the next “I’m Rick James, bitch!” Like a horde of slack-jawed zombies slowly lumbering toward me, this type of mindless regurgitation makes me want to swat people in the head with a baseball bat.
But even worse than the mindless, endless repetition of the unwashed masses will be the smaller group of “comedy snobs.” These Borat fans who, as soon as the character’s catchphrases enter the greater social lexicon, will abandon the character they previously championed, and spurn all those who now enjoy it as “fucking posers.” These are the same people who now hate Dane Cook because he plays to sold-out crowds at the Boston Garden. The same people who now hate Zach Braff because Garden State turned the rest of the nation on to all that shitty “indie” music they were supposedly listening to five years ago. I’m sorry, but funny is funny. And what these people don’t realize, though, is that by asserting the superiority of their early adoptorism, they’re actually being bigger douchebags than the Johnny Come Lately’s they despise. If they could step outside of themselves for a minute and hear what they sound like to everyone else, they’d want to swat themselves in the head with a baseball bat.
While I’m sure the comedy snobs will disagree, I like to think I fit somewhere in between these two camps. I’ve seen Borat before – but only a handful of sketches on YouTube. And I like Borat. I think the character is funny in a way that Cohen’s other big character, Ali G, just isn’t. So I’m planning to see the movie when it opens. But that’s it. I’m not planning to quote it endlessly when out at the bar. I’m not planning to bash it along with the rest of my comedy snob friends. And I’m certainly not planning to buy the ironic “Is Nice!” t-shirt that Snorg Tees will eventually be putting out.
But I am planning on sitting back and watching it polarize an entire generation. Which, ultimately, is what Borat is supposed to do. Right?
|« Trophy-Tee 10/11||Next year's Halloween costumes for Eric Hunicutt, based on how he looked in my wig last night »|