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Thursday, November 23, 2006 - 9:19pmSanction this postReply
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Luke,

With your stomach, you should have been a battlefield surgeon. This creep is getting rave reviews and I don't know even one New Yorker who thinks he's at all funny or in any way redemptive. My roommate won't even allow commercials for him on the TV, a sentiment with which I concur. The only time I ever expect to laugh because of him is the day that he gets his comeuppance.

I am going to sanction you randomly somewhere else, since doing so here would be like admiring a snapshot of dog scat.

Ted

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Post 1

Friday, November 24, 2006 - 5:05amSanction this postReply
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I would have labeled this movie as outright nihilism if it targeted mainly objective virtues like productiveness and pride.  Instead, most of his targeted vices include pretentiousness, hypocrisy, racism, sexism, homophobia, and others.  Unfortunately, his own pretentiousness includes a carpet bombing approach that dupes all comers indiscriminately.  A Wikipedia entry documents the story of one news producer who lost her job because of his antics and her failure to practice due diligence before authorizing his requested interview on her show.

This movie thus qualifies more as amoral than immoral.  It seeks to garner laughs at vices, but hurts otherwise virtuous people as well without compunction.  That it has done so well critically and financially speaks volumes about the moral degeneracy of the viewing public.


Post 2

Friday, November 24, 2006 - 9:36amSanction this postReply
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By its very nature, I would assert that art cannot be amoral, but must be classified as immoral, or at best "mixed" if not as virtuous. Art is necessarily optional, volitional, and value laden. Passing gas may be amoral, but filming one passing gas is not.

As with Ann Coulter's Godless, which set back the anti-PC cause by attacking the established PC religion, not because it is false and evil, but because it favors "gays" and opposes creationism, Cohen's work cannot be seen as sometimes exposing bad values to riducule, but rather as exposing the idea of value itself to ridicule. Some people may indeed deserve pies in the face, but when a man throws pies at everyone, it is he and not his targets who is exposed as a hypocrite.

Should anyone ever have the misfortune of meeting this creep, the proper response to his "Jak sza masz?" (Yock sha mosh?) or how are you in slavic is "Bars dobre" (barse daugh-breh) quite well, and a friendly kick in the testicles.

Ted Keer, 24 November, 2006

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Post 3

Friday, November 24, 2006 - 12:36pmSanction this postReply
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OK, first of all, y'all need to lighten up, and if Rand had that reaction at a surprise party, I would tell her the same thing.

Most of the premise of this movie is deeply ironic: Cohen is taking the worst stereotypes we have of people from areas such as Eastern Europe and the "Stans" and making Americans face them; he's making fun of our ignorance about other cultures by making fun of our own culture.  Of course most people "over there" don't live in poor, backward villages with goats and incest abounding, but that is what a majority of Americans think of places they don't really know. Also, however the irony comes into play in that most people don't want to hang homosexuals or hate blacks, I think what Cohen is really doing is lampooning the average American's take on the Third World and ridiculing the elite's take on what they consider the "Third World" of America.  He's takes the lazy-mindedness of average Americans and the elites stereotypes of said average Americans and bashes their heads together.  It's a brilliant way to take down ugly institutions.

What I really what to know is; are you calling most of us who enjoyed the movie twisted individuals with twisted values?


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Post 4

Friday, November 24, 2006 - 1:09pmSanction this postReply
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It was freakin hilarious - Fact.

Andy.


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Post 5

Friday, November 24, 2006 - 1:14pmSanction this postReply
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I watch South Park and laugh, and even on occasion at the scatalogical characters. I just don't think that any movie itself is amoral (i.e., non-moral) by the simple fact that aesthetics is a branch of ethics. I'm sure there are a lot worse things one could be doing with one's time than watching Bore-rat. But, as Luke indicated, there are also a lot better. If someone truly is able to enjoy this film by interpreting it in some benevolent way, I have no problem. I am not an aesthetic intrinsicist. People can and do react to, and interpret things according to their own contexts. Heck, I manage to joke around with the exterminator when he comes to kill the roaches, I don't have to sit there and expound on their anti-life collectivist ideology while he snuffs'em. And believe me, if I want to call people twisted, (as I did Cohen, but not necessarily his viewers) I will do it quite explicitly.

My only question to you Steven, is, is that a black hat you are wearing?

:)

Ted

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Post 6

Friday, November 24, 2006 - 1:21pmSanction this postReply
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Steven wrote:

Of course most people "over there" don't live in poor, backward villages with goats and incest abounding, but that is what a majority of Americans think of places they don't really know. ...  He takes the lazy-mindedness of average Americans and the elites' stereotypes of said average Americans and bashes their heads together.  It's a brilliant way to take down ugly institutions.

Evidently I missed this "widespread" view.  Perhaps I do not rub elbows with "average" Americans or watch enough of their favorite television shows to "understand" them.  If I did, perhaps I might have "gotten" the jokes.

What I really what to know is; are you calling most of us who enjoyed the movie twisted individuals with twisted values?

How someone could enjoy this movie flummoxes me.  I will leave my observation at that.  Anyone who can write a glowing, positive review to counter my negative one should feel free to do so in this thread.


Post 7

Friday, November 24, 2006 - 2:34pmSanction this postReply
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I believe that another positive aspect of Borat was his semi-expos in regards to our willingness to accommodate other cultures to the point of patronization.  Borat comes here with absolutely no understanding or idea of propriety or American cultural beliefs.  In the course of his travels, individuals give him more latitude when it comes to saying and doing things that are inappropriate.  If a well-spoken American came down with a sack of feces, we would certainly surmise that something was wrong with him; however, the dinner guests excuse his behavior with a condescending "he doesn't know any better, that's how he was raised"...an excuse we see manifesting itself in the form of an increasing parade of pseudo-addictions and diseases that purport to give the immoral a free pass in their behavior.  Indeed, Borat shows America's race to infantilize ourselves and others; they go along with abominable behavior because they don't treat individuals as adults, especially if they are from different cultures.  Think on it...why is it these people expect Borat to do the things he does?  It's because we've simplified complex cultures based on media soundbites and a refusal to think.

Post 8

Saturday, November 25, 2006 - 12:20amSanction this postReply
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OK, fizzay of all, yall need ta lighten up, n if Rand had T-H-to-tha-izzat reaction at a surprise party, I would tell her tha same cruisin'

M-to-tha-izzost of tha premise of this movie is deeply ironic . Freak y'all, into the beat y'all: cohen is tak'n tha wiznorst stereotizzles we have of thugz from areas siznuch as eastern europe n tha "stans" n rhymin' americans face them; hes saggin' fun of our ignorance `bout playa cultures by trippin' fun of our own culture. of course most thugz Crazy Ass Nigga there" D-to-tha-izzont live in poor, backward villages wit goats n incest perpetratin' but thizzat be what a majority of americans think of places they dont really kniznow.Also, howeva tha irony comes into play in that mizzle thugz D-to-tha-izzont wiznant ta hizzy homosizzles or hizzy blacks, I think wizzle Cohen is really doing is lampoon'n tha average Americans takes on tha Third World n ridicul'n tha elites takes on what they consida tha "Third World" of America. Hes takes tha lazy-mindizzles of average Americans n tha elites stereotizzles of said average Americans n bashes they heezees togetha

Post 9

Monday, November 27, 2006 - 6:19amSanction this postReply
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As I said in another thread, the movie was very funny.  I am sorry but your analysis Luke reminds me of Data on Star Trek trying to analyze why a joke is funny.  I have seen plenty of movies with nasty, nihilistic messages (like Natural Born Killers, for example) that I could not stomach, but this was hilarious.

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Post 10

Monday, November 27, 2006 - 7:44amSanction this postReply
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Borat was in one way an R-rated version of "Moscow on the Hudson," a kind of guilty pleasure (except we Objectivists aren't supposed to feel guilty). For example, his thinking the elevator was his room. ("This is nice. No I will not take a smaller room."), washing his face in the toilet, etc. His wanting to shake hands and kiss everyone he met in New York was like "Crocodile Dundee" on steroids. I thought some of the stereotypes were quite funny because they were so exaggerated, e.g. in his native village. It was the kind of outrageous humor you might find in the old National Lampoon or P.J. O'Rourke. And he was clearly making fun of anti-Semitism. I thought the church meeting was legitimately funny because that's how those crazies actually behave. (In another context, in his TV show on religion Richard Dawkins featured such a meeting, with now-disgraced preacher Ted Haggard, that illustrated the dangers of such beliefs. They're ultimately frightening, not funny.)

But when one thinks about the movie, one can raise the question of "Fun at whose expense?" Part of the problem was indeed separating the staged stuff from the unstaged. The friend of mine thought busting up the antique shop was staged but others weren't quite sure. Some of the "gotcha" humor, if unstaged, was like a mean version of "Candid Camera," e.g. Bob Barr biting into cheese which he's then told is made from milk from his wife's breasts. The humor doesn't come from anything about Bob Barr that should be laughed at.

I offer here Charles Kruathammer's interesting take on the movie:

-----

Just an Anti-Semitic Laugh? Hardly.

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, November 24, 2006; A41


 
"Borat" is many things: a sidesplitting triumph of slapstick and scatology, a runaway moneymaker and budding franchise, the worst thing to happen to Kazakhstan since the Mongol hordes, and, as columnist David Brooks astutely points out, a supreme display of elite snobbery reveling in the humiliation of the hoaxed hillbilly.

But it is one thing more, something Brooks alluded to in passing but that requires at least one elaboration: an unintentionally revealing demonstration of the unfortunate attitude many liberal Jews have toward working-class American Christians, especially evangelicals.

You know the shtick. Borat goes around America making anti-Semitic remarks in order to elicit a nodding anti-Semitic response. And with enough liquor and cajoling, he succeeds. In the most notorious such scene (on "Da Ali G Show," where the character was born), Borat sings "Throw the Jew Down the Well" in an Arizona bar as the local rubes join in.

Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of Borat, revealed his purpose for doing that in a rare out-of-character interview he granted Rolling Stone in part to counter charges that he was promoting anti-Semitism. On the face of it, this would be odd, given that Cohen is himself a Sabbath-observing Jew. His defense is that he is using Borat's anti-Semitism as a "tool" to expose it in others. And that his Arizona bar stunt revealed, if not anti-Semitism, then "indifference" to anti-Semitism. And that, he maintains, was the path to the Holocaust.

Whoaaaa. Does he really believe such rubbish? Can a man that smart (Cambridge, investment banker and now brilliant filmmaker) really believe that indifference to anti-Semitism and the road to the Holocaust are to be found in a country-and-western bar in Tucson?

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world.

With anti-Semitism reemerging in Europe and rampant in the Islamic world; with Iran acquiring the ultimate weapon of genocide and proclaiming its intention to wipe out the world's largest Jewish community (Israel); with America and, in particular, its Christian evangelicals the only remaining Gentile constituency anywhere willing to defend that besieged Jewish outpost -- is the American heartland really the locus of anti-Semitism? Is this the one place to go to find it?

In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez says that the "descendants of the same ones that crucified Christ" have "taken possession of all the wealth in the world." Just this month, Tehran hosted an international festival of Holocaust cartoons featuring enough hooked noses and horns to give Goebbels a posthumous smile. Throughout the Islamic world, newspapers and television, schoolbooks and sermons are filled with the most vile anti-Semitism.

Baron Cohen could easily have found what he seeks closer to home. He is, after all, from Europe, where synagogues are torched and cemeteries desecrated in a revival of anti-Semitism -- not "indifference" to but active -- unseen since the Holocaust. Where a Jew is singled out for torture and death by French-African thugs. Where a leading Norwegian intellectual -- et tu, Norway? -- mocks "God's Chosen People" ("We laugh at this people's capriciousness and weep at its misdeeds") and calls for the destruction of Israel, the "state founded . . . on the ruins of an archaic national and warlike religion."

Yet, amid this gathering darkness, an alarming number of liberal Jews are seized with the notion that the real threat lurks deep in the hearts of American Protestants, most specifically Southern evangelicals. Some fear that their children are going to be converted; others, that below the surface lies a pogrom waiting to happen; still others, that the evangelicals will take power in Washington and enact their own sharia law.

This is all quite crazy. America is the most welcoming, religiously tolerant, philo-Semitic country in the world. No nation since Cyrus the Great's Persia has done more for the Jews. And its reward is to be exposed as latently anti-Semitic by an itinerant Jew looking for laughs and, he solemnly assures us, for the path to the Holocaust?

Look. Harry Truman used to tell derisive Jewish jokes. Richard Nixon said nasty things about Jews in government and elsewhere. Who cares? Truman and Nixon were the two greatest friends of the Jews in the entire postwar period: Truman secured them a refuge in the state of Israel, and Nixon saved it from extinction during the Yom Kippur War.

It is very hard to be a Jew today, particularly in Baron Cohen's Europe, where Jew-baiting is once again becoming acceptable. But it is a sign of the disorientation of a distressed and confused people that we should find it so difficult to distinguish our friends from our enemies.


Post 11

Monday, November 27, 2006 - 8:39amSanction this postReply
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Gosh, I think Charles Karuthammer stretched way too much the meaning of Baron Cohen's gigs and comments.

It is actually odd that he felt such strong need to defend US as friends of Jews, or even the savior of Israel!


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Post 12

Monday, November 27, 2006 - 10:48amSanction this postReply
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From what I've gathered (several news reports and an interview with Cohen in the Rolling Stone), Cohen committed fraud in getting some of his marks on the screen. This makes Borat a documentary of someone committing an act of aggression. I'm sure much of it is funny (as was his Ali G TV series). But, I will not see the movie given what I know of how it was made.

Post 13

Monday, November 27, 2006 - 12:12pmSanction this postReply
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Some of these reviews are reminding me of all the people who attacked American Beauty back on OWL. I definitely need to see this movie now.


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Post 14

Monday, November 27, 2006 - 2:12pmSanction this postReply
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I disliked American Beauty as well.  However, one scene in it almost redeemed it for me.  It involved Kevin Spacey working in the drive through window of a fast food joint.  His cheating wife and her lover pulled to the window for a meal and he said hello to her.  The assistant manager sneered at the wife and said:

"You are so busted."

When the wife told her it was none of her business, Kevin Spacey kindly informed his wife that everything that passed by that window became the assistant manager's business.

Perhaps Chris Baker can write a review of American Beauty to post to the appropriate section of this site so he can share with us exactly what he liked about it.


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Post 15

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 12:01amSanction this postReply
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Borat seems to be a kind of Rorschach test. People see in it what they want to see. This is a tribute to the movie's high quality.  
 
Of course: To each his own. It's hard to rationally or coherently dispute personal tastes and senses of humor.
 
Still, I say: Borat rules, and god bless Sasha Cohen! The world desperately needs more like him. He points out mankind's foibles brilliantly. Of course, he doesn't have answers or alternatives -- but that isn't always the job of a social satirist. It's pretty darn good and valuable when the humorist at least points out what's wrong in the world.  
 
I thought the film was a borderline comic masterpiece. There are a few slow and predictable spots, but mostly it's hilarious. This is first-rate humor and social satire.
 
Various people have sought to judge this by Objectivist esthetics. But I don't recall Ayn Rand ever discussing humor or satire. And it Rand didn't mention it -- in print or privately -- then you know Peikoff has nothing to say about it. That would require independent thought, of which he isn't capable. It would require an independent soul and a live human being. In the game of philosophy and intellectual analysis, if Rand didn't think of it first, Peikoff isn't capable of thinking of it at all. So I think we should dismiss any considerations of the robotic "thought" of Peikoff on this subject.   
 
The social criticism in this film attacks feminists, evangelicals, blacks, rednecks, frat rats, PC, etc. -- all of which have it coming. It also mocks the human condition generally in all our mixed nobility and folly. On balance, I thought the film needed a bit more mockery -- of the rude and biting variety -- of feminists and bigoted blacks. Cohen took a few too many easy shots at white trash.
 
And Luke (in the original post) revealed Borat's greatest weakness -- most of the scenes were staged. This differs from Da Ali G Show on HBO, and was an artistic mistake, in my judgment. Still, Borat was basically scathing and sidesplitting. It lampooned many of Kazakstan's and America's sacred cows wonderfully. It was also just some great crude, vulgar, low-brow humor.


Post 16

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 12:01pmSanction this postReply
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--I GIVE CULTURE TRIP MIT FLOWCHARTS GLORIOUS NATION OBJECTIONISM--

I have just finally realized that in Luke's entire review he was Borat-ing us. But it's hard to tell which parts of the review were staged and which were not. Which is clearly an unpardonable ethical flaw.

With the over-the-top Puritan moralizing language and the unnecessary dragging in of the entire corpus of the Objectivist Esthetics, he almost had me fooled into taking the review straight and believing that it was his actual view. My (actual) view of the movie is that, contra Krauthammer, Cohen had no agenda, was not trying to lampoon American traditional values any more than anything else and was trying to satirize anything that moved, which made for a movie of very uneven quality. And the humor was uneven - sometimes clever and sometimes on the five year old level of "Jackass" and often simply poor satire.

But Luke, on the other hand, shows enormous promise as a natural comedian. And Galt knows, as does St. Ragnar, that Objectivism desperately needs the emergence of a great satirist if its movie reviews are to conquer the culture. (I assume, of course, that LS paid for the crockery he broke in his movie review, else I could not sanction him by writing this or viewing a movie he has seen.)


(Edited by Philip Coates
on 11/28, 12:08pm)


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Post 17

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 12:59pmSanction this postReply
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And Luke (in the original post) revealed Borat's greatest weakness -- most of the scenes were staged.
This is not true. Most of the scenes were of real people who were duped into being humiliated in front of millions of people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borat#Hoax_victims


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Post 18

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 1:26pmSanction this postReply
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In an intrepid piece of philosophical detective work, Philip "Clever Dick" Coates wrote:

I have just finally realized that in Luke's entire review he was Borat-ing us.

No, I was not.  Try again!  In the meanwhile, perhaps I ought to do some intentional "Borat-ing" since you projected it onto me.



How do you like it?


Post 19

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 1:46pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan, did you read what bullshit those complaints and lawsuits were?  Just people trying to cash in or excuse their failings on the pop culture of the day.  You have to love the "incite violence against the gypsies" crap.  They actually have these absurd laws about gypsies, who are organized groups of theives and con artists, and it is "Ok" I guess for them to steal, cheat, and prostitute their children because it is part of their culture.  Here in the US we have the Travelers, and they have some similar groups in the UK too.

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