Ten years ago, someone without a job, a mortgage in the US could get. Tony Blair was the British lame duck Prime Minister. Al–Qaeda, but as IS, was the Public enemy number One. And the satirical film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was in the cinemas.
The Film made quite the splash. Despite only shows on around 800 screens in the United States – a typical wide release, playing on three times as many screens – borate-hit number one on its opening weekend. The results were just as strong to the rest of the world, and it is widely considered to be the highest grossing mockumentary of all time.
My relationship with borate began, before he made the leap to the big screen. While I was working for the British Council in Kazakhstan as a public relations manager in the early 2000s, I read in the newspaper about a Kazakh character on a British TV show. I asked a colleague if she knew who he was – she was a volunteer from England, who have helped me, every month, for proofreading our newsletter. She felt a little embarrassed and explained that it is an actor who pretends to be a Kazakh journalist, and that the show is an example of a special British Humor that might get your Kazakh friends. I shrugged my shoulders.
About a year later, I was in the UK for the first time. It was then I saw Da Ali G Show, on Channel Four and saw Borat. Honestly, I found it… very funny. Of course, I was clear that this is a satire on the British attitude towards the rest of the world, poking fun at the British isolationism. And I still like Ali G and Borat – and even Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen. For me, their Creator, Sacha Baron Cohen, a talented workaholic with a serious message. Another friend of mine, a Cambridge university professor said to me that Baron Cohen was a graduate of the University, and I came to the realization of the intellectual heft behind his work.
I even suggested that we offer citizenship Borat Kazakh state
A number of my colleagues from the whole of the Kazakh media in the world, including the top executives, she confessed to me that they also watched Borat on Da Ali G Show, and saw the characters as a PR opportunity. We wanted Baron Cohen to the show in the real Kazakhstan. We have agreed that we, the Kazakhs should be grateful for every promotion he gave to our country. I’ve even offered – admittedly fun – to recognize the idea of Borat as a Kazakh citizen, you give him a ID and tax it. These conversations went ultimately nowhere, but the idea of a real cooperation with our most famous “native son” was one we stopped.
Is it beautiful?
But not all Kazakh felt. After the character was introduced, Da Ali G Show, Baron Cohen’s website was blocked in Kazakhstan for a time. Exactly a year ago, I met a Kazakh fitness Trainer, worked at a fitness Studio in New York City, as the Borat movie was released in 2006. He said that he was in Manhattan, a crowd of people, only a few steps away from Baron Cohen during the premiere of the film. And beat our man who very much wanted to, the actor, because he was indignant about the representation of Kazakhstan. We have since laughed about the story he told me as he calmed down and realized that it would be a PR disaster for our people, if he did it.
Maybe the angry Kazakhs in the year 2006, our students in the UK and the USA. They did not understand the Film, but their non-Kazakh colleagues on the campus. Your classmates were sure that the Film showed the real Kazakhstan.
And, of course, the government began various efforts to change the PR story. I was not involved, that the work several times, and I can say, to understand that absolutely all of the high-ranking officials in Kazakhstan, that they should be offended by the movie. The most important goal, it was discussed how to make use of it as an unexpected spotlight on the country.
The only thing that is accurate about Kazakhstan, the country position on the map
It is important to understand where telling the truth and not lying, in the Borat Film. A sudden rush on the map of Westerners who do not know may be able to Kazakhstan wanted to learn more about us, had taken place. But the fact is that the only thing accurate about Kazakhstan in this film, this is the position of the country on the map. Even the language is incorrectly shown as Borat’s name is incorrectly written, and, like that, he’s Da Ali G Show, the introduction of the Borat character, he speaks Hebrew as a stand-in for Kazakh. The isolated Romanian village of Glod had been selected, representing Borat’s home town – and Borat’s ‘neighbours’ are, in fact, the Roma, the people, the borate taunted as “Gypsies” during the rest of the film.
Most of the people in Kazakhstan realized pretty quickly that the film was aimed more at an audience in America than in Borat’s homeland. Sacha Baron Cohen main seemed not to be a target, to get an outsider view on the exist US and betray the prejudices of the Americans Borat interacts with – prejudices, which do most of the people in the USA would like to. He worked as a kind of 21st Century Alexis de Tocqueville. And as soon as it became clear that this was Baron Cohen’s goal, most of the normal Kazakhs lost interest in the Borat phenomenon as a whole.
But to speak of many Western-oriented Kazakhs who have the need about the real Kazakhstan. Local public-relations experts, the topic was discussed extensively at professional conferences. I had a lot of questions about the film itself. So I interviewed some of the leading marketing and public relations experts. Scott Bedbury, formerly of Nike and Starbucks, said, “I don’t think any of US believe that the movie was really about Kazakhstan. It’s just a Comedy”.
We are an easy target – Yerlan Idrissov
Yerlan Idrissov, who was the Kazakh Ambassador in the UK at the time, wrote in the Guardian: “We are an easy target. Borat would have the balance sheet, the citizens of a country with a really terrible human rights – Afghanistan during the Taliban. But that would be risky for Baron Cohen. Many Kazakhs saw, borate, were offended, and in disbelief. But in fact, the Land of the critics, including Baron Cohen, rather an invitation to your concerns about an all-expenses-paid conference in Kazakhstan as they would to a fatwa.”
Such observations illustrate the first strategy for dealing with the film on the part of the Kazakh government is trying to clean it as no big deal. But later, Baron Cohen was mentioned in a session of the Kazakh Parliament by the minister for foreign Affairs of the time, Yerzhan Kazykhanov: “With the image – Version, in Kazakhstan, the number of Visa problems increased by 10 times. This is a great victory, and I am grateful to Borat for attracting tourists to Kazakhstan.”
But not all reactions were so positive. In November 2006, well-known Kazakh TV personality Jantemir Baimukhamedov to London went, and promised that he would. horse-flesh and horse urine Baron Cohen, who had declared as Borat, the, the national food of Kazakhstan But he organized everything so bad he was not a graduate of a meeting with the Cambridge. In 2010, film Director Erkin Rakishev promised to make a Film about a young American who visited the real Kazakhstan , after the Borat movie. It is not yet.
Perhaps the most creative response to the film came from the famous violinist Marat Bisengaliev. Bisengaliev contacted me to donate for the Commission a piece of original music that would represent meaningful Kazakh culture.
We asked Sacha’s brother, composer Erran Baron Cohen to write, the 20-minute piece. Called Zere, it is based on Kazakh folk music. Its premiere took place in London’s St. James Church in Piccadilly in 2007 to play with the Turan Alem Kazakhstan Philharmonic Orchestra and Bisengaliev himself the violin. News of the concert spread over the world, with write-ups in Newspapers from the Daily Telegraph , the Sydney Morning Herald. The core of the stories was that, at last, the Kazakhs made fun of by Sacha.