The release of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat sequel has once again brought mixed reactions in Kazakh society.
Directed by Jason Voliner and Borat’s sequel Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigies Bribery to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Amazon Prime ‘was released on Friday.
The fictional nominal character is played by Kazakh journalist and television personality Borat Sagdiev, Baron Cohen and characterized by his exaggerated racist, antisemitic and misogynistic views, typical of Kazakhstan.
While the film is a satire on American ignorance and partisanship rather than an attempt to ridicule Kazakhs, not everyone in Kazakhstan appreciates the joke.
Prior to the film’s release, more than 100,000 people signed an online petition to cancel the film.
A small number of protesters gathered in front of the US Consulate in the Kazakh city of Almaty on Premier Day.
The social media response was particularly heated. The hashtag #Cancelborat appeared on Twitter and Instagram, with thousands of Kazakhs outraged by the film’s racist allegations and accusing Baron Cohen of insulting the country.
– Gia Nurtas (Gia Nurtas) October 24, 2020
To make matters worse, the film marketing team set up fake Instagram and Twitter accounts pretending to be the Kazakh government before the premiere. Initially, most tweets focused on the weather and the activities of country ministers.
“Little known fact: Kazakhs are number one in the world of horse breeding. Another great moment in the history of our great country! #Technology #WorldCulture,” a tweet from September 30 said.
– Republic of Kazakhstan 🇰🇿 (az Kazakhstangovt) September 29, 2020
On the same day, the spoof account tweeted to congratulate Donald Trump – “the great friend of the Kazakh people” – for winning the presidential debate before it took place.
“Apologies. Although the broadband account was recently purchased by the government, we cannot follow the discussion right now because the Wi-Fi signal is not good. Please let us know about the consequences! # Negotiations 2020 ”said the next tweet.
“Good news! We’re using neighborhood ** holes Uzbekistan’s Wi-Fi! Watching the discussion again!” Tweeted Minutes later.
While Kazakh felt the need to deny that the Prime Minister was the author of the press office account, this time the authorities prevented him from making official comments about the film.
‘The last thing to worry about is Borat’
The first Borat film, Borat: Cultural Learning of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, was released in 2006, initially receiving criticism from government officials.
But in 2012, Foreign Minister Yerzan Kazikhanov said he was “grateful to Borat for helping to attract tourists to Kazakhstan.”
He said since the release of the film, the number of visas issued by the country has increased tenfold.
Kazakh society, however, is divided.
“Borat has once again divided Kazakhstanis into two camps. Some are outraged and say the film is untrue because it was shot in Romania, not in Kazakhstan. Our country is only 30 years old, and the state emblems are still sacred,” Kazakh marketing specialist Tatiana Fominova told Al Jazeera.
“The other half understood that the film was mainly about the United States and that Sacha Baron Cohen chose Kazakhstan almost at random,” she said.
Due to Borat, foreigners laugh at Kazakhstan because the film reflects reality.
She said she had experienced this reaction during the US tour, which was unpleasant, but she said she did not hold it against the filmmakers.
“The level of absurdity and corruption in our country is so high that Borat is the last thing to worry about,” Fominova said.
“Kazakhstan attracts the attention of the world media only in relation to a series of political and social scandals. Borat can not further tarnish the image.”