Sacha Baron Cohen Humor/Critique
By Micah Halpern
Tuesday October 20, 2020
I've Been Thinking:
I just watched the tape of Sacha Baron Cohen, or Borat as he is best known to the world, on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
I thought it was truly hilarious. His Borat 2 is coming out on Oct 23rd on Amazon. The theme of this movie is about ridiculous and crazy anti-Semitism.
Sacha Baron Cohen remains in his Borat character for the entire interview and flips into Hebrew phrases, just like he did in his original movie in 2006.
Kimmel asks Borat/Cohen about COVID. He replies, "comes from a place called Wuhan, which is in Israel".
We hear laughter, itís a funny response. But more than laughs, Cohen was making a point. As Borat, he was making fun of people who actually believe that Israel is responsible for the virus. The interview continues with a health questionnaire in which Borat asks Kimmel how many Jews he had been around. Kimmelís response was ďall our writers are Jewish and none of our cameramen.Ē
Some might find this distasteful and, paradoxically, even anti-Semitic. NO! It is Cohenís vehicle of critique. Sacha Baron Cohen is flabbergasted that people, normal people, hold these beliefs and the medium he uses to teach and critique is humor and film. It is no different than what Charlie Chaplin did in ďThe Great DictatorĒ.
Sacha Baron Cohen has written op-eds and spoken to groups. But there is no comparing the reach and the power of those messages with the reach and the power of a blockbuster movie.
In Borat 2, Cohen also addresses Holocaust denial. He interviewed real Holocaust survivors. Some were offended afterwards - I can understand their offense. How can the Holocaust be funny? It isnít funny, but there is an entire genre of humor that Jewish victims shared with one another in the midst of the atrocities. For them, it was a survival tool.
Humor is a vehicle of critique and communication. Sometimes itís good humor, sometimes itís tasteless. It always has a message.
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