I No Like

6th November 2006

Saw the Borat movie on Friday and I hated it. I realize that I’m well in the minority here, but the movie wasn’t funny, it was mean. (Spoilers ahead.)

He gets a rodeo crowd so riled up that it spooks the horse the flag-bearer is riding. The horse then rears up and falls over backward on top of her.

He pretends to be converted to Christianity and mocks the people speaking in tongues who believe he’s being born again at their revival.

He breaks several hundred dollars worth of antiques at a mom-and-pop store.

He attends an etiquette class followed by dinner in a private home. His hostess is so kind that she gives him a patient lesson in how to use the toilet when he brings a sack of feces to her dinner table, pretending to be unsure of where to dispose of it. Then he invites a prostitute over.

There’s also lots of naked wrestling with an obese man.

Overall, it’s about as amusing as walking in on your parents having sex. Enjoy, America.

60 thoughts on “I No Like

  1. Megling

    I sat there with my mouth open and could not believe I was sitting in a theatre filled with people who found it hysterical.
    Thank goodness I wasn’t alone in my opinion…I feel like some folks are trying to tell me I have no sense of humor if I didn’t find his satire funny.
    I suppose I have no sense of humor then…and that’s fine by me! :)

  2. kristen

    I have no desire to see this movie. A friend made me watch a few episodes of The Ali G. Show on YouTube, and I found it similarly infantile and boring. I can’t figure out exactly what he’s doing wrong, since his TV show seems similar to what Stephen Colbert and John Stewart do, but the dude just isn’t amusing.

  3. jaime

    I’m with you. I refuse to see it. I absolutely hate this sort of humor. It does nothing more than make me squirm in my seat with the uncomfortableness of it all.

    Incidentally, I live about a half hour away from the town where the rodeo was.

  4. Sunshine

    I’m with you as well – there is something completely different between poking fun a la Dennis Miller or Jon Stewart and going the extra mile to embarrass, injure, and just be a fool.

    I’ll be skipping this one as well.

  5. Mo

    IFC (I think) had a special preview for Borat, and I felt dumber just watching THAT. I almost called DirecTV to get my money back for the ten minutes I endured this show. Sacha Baron Cohen is simply not funny.

  6. Lisa

    I agree completely. I somehow managed to get talked into seeing this movie, and immediately regretted it. It’s not funny; it’s mean.

  7. Vikki

    THANK YOU! Everyone around me has been singing his praises and I just don’t share the zeal. I watched some clips and some of them were funny but when he has the whole crowd at the bar shouting anti-semitic remarks – that was too much. Inciting people to say hateful things is just not funny to me.

  8. keohinani

    i WHOLLY agree! i saw that movie on saturday and i did not find ANY of it funny. i thought it was vulgar and offensive. the people of kazakhistan must be outraged. no wonder other countries hate us.

  9. Katie

    I agree partially. I know I know…. many parts were humiliating and out right mean, BUT I found it equally disturbing that the crowds would mindlessly go along with singing an anti-sematic song. It was a lose-lose for both.

  10. Scott

    I won’t see this movie. I’ve seen his stuff on YouTube, too and wasn’t too impressed. I figure it’s a step back when, people are made fun of simply for their trying to be courteous to others.

    His humor is basically to find a nice or genuine person and push them until either hypocrisies are exposed and/or created. Wow, so funny….

    I endured similar “humor” in college, and though I think some folks take themselves entirely too seriously, hypocrisies need only be revealed among friends. (public figures excluded of course)

    One question: Did these people sign releases or all they all extras?

  11. Katherine

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I will say I did not go see this movie, and in general I dislike people who have a definite opinion on something they have not experienced…but…I watched all the trailers and I just thought, this is just mean spirited humor. And I do not want to support it. I love the Daily Show, and they do the acerbic interviews. But I feel that those people are participating in the media deal. The scene of Borat at a dinner party insulting the hosts was just inappropriate. Someone who shows up to be interviewed well that is one thing but being invited into someone’s home for dinner that is another.

    Just so please to find out I in fact am not the last person standing…everyone I know (and who I feel are good folk) loves this guy and have loved the movie.

  12. Maggie Post author

    Everyone signed releases before they realized that they were being filmed for a comedy. They thought it was a documentary.

    Also, Bryan totally thought it was funny.

  13. ksh

    I’m guessing that most of the people laughing in the theater didn’t realize that they were the very folks he was mocking…more sad commentary than humor, I think.

  14. ginny

    We left 45 minutes into it. We should have left after 5. I don’t know where all the amazing reviews are coming from. Everyone I know who saw it this weekend was disgusted.

  15. jocelyn

    I agree, I mean at least with a movie like “jackass” you know what you’re getting into. I generally don’t care for anything that gets crammed down my throat. I won’t see it and I’m already over it.

  16. Leah

    From what few clips I’ve seen online, I didn’t know if I wanted to subject myself to an entire movie of the meanness. For those of us who lack an adequate degree of schadenfreude, a lot of the stuff he does is just plain mean. You just saved me ten bucks, Mrs. Mason.

  17. Sara

    When I tell people that it doesn’t even look remotely funny to me, they insist I don’t ‘get’ it.
    Yeah, I get it, I just don’t think being mean to people is funny.

  18. B

    Have to say I’m impressed that 18 commenters thus far are so totally against this movie, or the idea of it. Maybe those who disagree with you hesitate to post. I thought it was HYSTERICALLY funny and brilliant, incorporating elements of British comedic tradition, American irony, slapstick, and gratuitous (I mean that positively) gross-out, resulting in no-holds-barred illumination of certain quietly-held American prejudices and the flimsiness of what we consider polite practice. I am sorry the horse fell, though, but it’s not like they could have predicted or prevented that.

  19. luke

    I’m going to see Borat today, and I’m going to love it. It’s nice, however, to see someone be who hated it being so succinct (and entertaining) in her reasoning. I think Cohen is a brilliant comedian- very much a latter day Andy Kaufman- who satirizes things by living in them and taking them to places of ridiculous discomfort. He makes me laugh because the situations become absurd and, as he commits to staying in character, other people stay there in that moment with him; I laugh because I know I would have many of the same stunned reactions the people in his “skits” have. It’s good, however, to be reminded that one of the reasons the movie is going to be so popular is because there is some cruel enjoyment that people get out of seeing people in these tremendously awkward positions (see: all of reality tv).

  20. Josie

    I have mixed feelings about Borat. I had a few laughs, but I think the main problem I saw was that it didn’t seem to have a cohesive goal. I wasn’t sure if the main goal was just to be funny, or to point out that people in the U.S. have prejudices, or what. It changed from scene to scene.
    Much of it made me cringe, and made me disgusted and sad, and that’s not funny.

  21. carolb

    I loved this movie. While I don’t like the Ali G character at all (that character makes me really uncomfortable for the people he interviews) I really liked the Borat character. There were even a few touching scenes in there where I kind of felt for him. Mind you, I was shocked by that whole naked men scene…all through the hotel and crashing that conference. Shocking and hilarious. I liked it!

  22. Matthew

    Also, Bryan totally thought it was funny.

    Yeah, I figured. I love you dearly, Maggie, but I’m going with the hubby on this one. The Borat segments on the Ali G show make me laugh to the point of bellyaches.

  23. pseudostoops

    My husband really wanted to go see this for our anniversary date and I flatly refused- your assessment makes me really glad I did because (call me humorless) I just don’t like the humor that comes from making fun of people who aren’t in on the joke.

  24. Jonathan

    I’m amazed that more people don’t realise the real “goal” of the movie. The people who site there laughing at the movie (or writing wonderful reviews) are the unwitting butt of the entire joke.

    I think it’s a tremendously clever position to have constructed – not only does Borat expose real reactions to extreme situations, it also successfully targets those who think it is funny.

  25. M

    I’m curious why so many people would go see this movie if they’re so easily offended. You only have to see one trailer to know the brand of humor Borat is.

  26. Michelle

    I know nothing about Borat. I haven’t seen the triler, haven’t seen the movie, and have no interest in doing so, because any man who wears a neon green thong thingy with the straps all up on his shoulders?

    SO totally OFF my list.

  27. chris

    I LOVED it. And I dont have a problem with the them that “I think it’s a tremendously clever position to have constructed – not only does Borat expose real reactions to extreme situations, it also successfully targets those who think it is funny.” Works for me.

  28. Jen

    You know, all of the commercials I’ve seen, I’ve wondered what the appeal was. Maybe it’s just not my type of humor or something? But I’m glad to hear there’s someone else out there who just doesn’t get it!

  29. Jennifer

    Apparently I’m one of few here, but that’s certainly okay. I was irritated as the movie began as teenagers were hysterically laughing all around me and not only had nothing funny happened, but nothing at all had happened. They were laughing because they were supposed to find this movie funny, and it was obvious they couldn’t think for themselves. I just knew I was going to hate it. But, I laughed out loud through this movie. Uncomfortable, offensive? Of course. But, I was just as offended by half of the remarks made by Americans who were speaking on a “documentary.” And during the church scene dozens of “devout Christians” stepped over Borat’s dirty, sleeping body to get into their church. I never heard him say (or at least remotely appear to comprehend) what being converted meant. He was practically drug down the aisle to the altar.

    But, it’s hardly a movie meant for everyone.

    To each his own. Thank goodness :)

  30. The Scarlet Pervygirl

    So can you laugh at Indonesian Muslims who believe in the efficacy of magical curses? Is it okay to laugh at Hindus who believe that the drinking of milk by the statues of their deities is miraculous in nature? Catholics who believe in transubstantiation as literal fact? Tibetan Buddhists who believe that the soul of a deceased person will not find new life through reincarnation if the proper ceremonies and readings from the book of the dead are not perfomed on the corpse? People who participate in sand-painting? Whirling dervishes? Snake-handlers? Singers? Dancers? People who pray? Which of these people are good material for a contemptuous snicker, and which aren’t?

  31. egekin

    ok ok ok, I confess – I’m an English male (sorry). The movie has got amazing write ups in the English press and media, but seeing the trailers leaves me a bit cold and nervous. I think it’s a very British sense of humour because we have an outdated sense of proportion of where we are and our standing in the world. It’s not that funny – it’s actually going after quite easy targets (it’s a bit like saying aren’t all [I don’t know] Australians convicts ha ha ha…), and makes us sound like we still own the world and are ahead of the game with humour and treatment of others. On the whole, I think it’s quite a dangerous film rather than funny given the world at the moment – it is downright insulting to the American people, Kazakhstan and Jews.

    Don’t go. Save you money and time and go have coffee somewhere.


  32. Anne

    I saw it and laughed a bit at parts, but knowing Baron Cohen’s other work (like Ali G), I knew it wasn’t going to be clever or kind. And that it’s definitely not meant for an American audience. I agree with Jennifer – was just as offended by half of the remarks made by Americans who were speaking on a “documentary.”

  33. Kizz

    Thank you for posting the spoilers, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t like it but was feeling like a humorless killjoy about that. Knowing what little I know now I’m done feeling guilty, I can put my $11 plus candy to better use.

  34. Allison

    Hated it. Wish this had been posted before I went to see it. I think some of his comedy is funny, but that movie was not. Not funny. Everyone in my row was cracking up and I was sitting there looking at my cellphone waiting for it to be over!

  35. m4merritt

    Did anyone see the letter to the editor in this week’s Newsweek? It was written by a man who is apparently in the movie ( I haven’t seen it but a television person?) who ended up losing his job over the humiliation his station endured finding out it was a joke – his boss started second guessing him after that and finally he was fired 3 months ago. I can only imagine how many other people may have suffered a similar fate. I, for one, couldn’t see this film now, after reading that letter – poor guy.

  36. Goddess In The City

    I don’t think it was so much funny–although I certainly thought it was–as a biting social satire. Revealed just how many prejudices we as americans still hold. i think a lot of americans don’t appreciate it because they want to believe our country is this bastion of liberated and liberal thinking. In big cities like NYC and SF and LA that may be true. But in most of this country, it clearly is not the case. a great number of americans harbor feelings of antisemitism, antifeminism and are antiblack and only reveal those feelings behind closed doors. that scene where the university of south carolina frat boys muse over how much better things would be if slavery still existed? The theater in which I saw the film–in downtown brooklyn–was so silent during the entire scene you could have heard a pin drop.

  37. Jennifer

    “It was written by a man who is apparently in the movie ( I haven’t seen it but a television person?) who ended up losing his job over the humiliation his station endured finding out it was a joke” This is truly unfortunate. I am sorry to hear that. But, I wouldn’t be sorry to read a letter written by one of those stupid frat boys stating no woman will sleep with him since figuring out he is a poor excuse for a human being.

  38. Zoot

    I mentioned not wanting to see it on my site and 37 people agreed and said they had no interest in seeing it either. So, maybe it’s not as much of a minority as you think…

  39. MarillaAnne

    oh hey … you aren’t alone … i saw a clip over at fox news from their reviewer … he was strongly against it. I’m sorry I don’t have time to hunt it down for you though.


  40. Jason Parker

    Yeah, if Fox News doesn’t like it, it hardly seems worth the effort. Andy Kaufman was a hack, too. Seinfeld is also just plain mean. Those kids on Friends live in sin.

    Thing is, I don’t believe anything I just typed above. Cohen is very adept at pointing out cracks in commonly held (no matter how absurd) belief systems. I agree that in some cases it can be mean spirited, but some people need a little dressing down when they can’t see the forest for the trees.

    I absolutely love your site, enjoy your writing, and think you’re an extremely intelligent and insightful person, but on this one I think you missed the point.

  41. andsoitis

    Thank you. I didn’t like it one bit and was upset at wasting that much time out of my day. It actually left me in a bad mood. All these great reviews and news stories and I go see the movie and I keep waiting for it to be really funny, not just a little funny, or 13-yr-old-appeal funny. I was not the right audience for the movie and I know better. I guess that’s what upset me the most. I knew better and wasted the time and money anyway. I don’t even mind the Borat character or the movie concept. I just didn’t laugh, and supposedly I was at the “funniest movie of the year.”

  42. waywardgoddess

    I have no desire to see this movie. I have a hard time understand why someone would, but, whatever. There is an audience for everythinbg. I am just blown away by how serious people are taking it. Did you see the morning news circuit? Color me confused.

  43. dodo

    me no like either. although he’s very popular here. masses of coverage in papers and weekend magazines etc. it’s quite beyond me.

  44. Christina

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but watched and usually greatly enjoyed the Borat show on TV when I was living in England. Like Jason Parker and Goddess in the City, I think Sacha Baron Cohen is very skilled at getting people to admit what they really think (and it seems sometimes they won’t even admit to themselves) and it often results in great satire.

    The bits of the movie Maggie objects to do sound mean (especially the horse falling) but I disagree strongly with Scott that “hypocrisies need only be revealed among friends. (public figures excluded of course)” People tend to be friends because they have similar world views, which makes it unlikely they’ll examine any hypocrisy or inconsistent inherent in those views. Hypocrisy and bigotry are at least as bad as rudeness and meanness in my book. Admittedly, I also think two wrongs don’t make a right, so I’m a hypocrite too.

  45. Ana

    I ride horses, and having a horse flip over on top of you is pretty much the worst thing that can happen. I’m definitely not going to see the movie.

  46. Dave

    I think a lot of you, including Maggie, might be missing the point of Borat. It’s not so much about cultural differences, prejudice, or Americanism. And secretly, it’s not even a comedy. This movie is about cognitive disruption. Your strong reactions, pro and con, only serve to make you part of the joke.

    Think about it. This man stood alone, in a rodeo full of noisy people and powerful animals, and using only the power of his own voice, HE KNOCKED DOWN A HORSE. This is no joke, people. This is raw power. So don’t get too comfortable as you blithely comment about getting the joke or as you condescendingly dismiss the sophomoric cruelty.

    What you’re feeling is subtle cognitive dissonance. But don’t feel bad, Borat is a very powerful man. People smarter then you have fallen for his mischevious tricks. Take one step back and you can see it for what it is, cognitive disruption. This is just a very subtle version of a cartoon Mohammed.

    And THAT’s funny. :)

  47. Bitter Betty

    I ride horses too and I was horrified of the clip I saw. I’m glad to see so many with proven senses of humor find this movie brain-killing stupid and cruel.

    There’s a line with everything, humor is no different. You go right up to that line, I’ll laugh, you cross it and it’s over. Then you’re just an asshole.

  48. SparklieSunShine

    Thank you! I haven’t seen the movie because the previews repulsed me. I am glad I am not alone with this as I see many of your commenters feel that same way. Plus I am not into the whole mean humor thing. It’s asinine and I want it to go away.

  49. Dave M

    @Dave: Are you serious? Can someone explain WHY my disllike of “sophomoric cruelty” makes ME the asshole? There are more ways than being openly rude to satirize people’s unconscious bigotry.

    I don’t mind a sack of feces, insult humor, bad language, cultural criticism, or bad moustaches, but humiliating people through deceit is wrong.

  50. avey

    I agree.

    I had maybe two or three laughs the whole movie. The rest of the time I just wanted to go sneak into whatever was playing in the screening room next to me. I think I laughed more at my husband than anything else.

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