Kazakhstan had a very hateful relationship with Sacha Baron Cohen and his satirical film ‘Borat’. The country banned the original 2006 mockumentary, however, they’ve adopted a different stance this time. Kazakhstan’s tourism board, ‘Kazakh Tourism,’ has adopted Borat. Moreover, they even adopted the catchphrase of the film in one of their tourism ads!
Kazakhstan embraced Borat!
Moreover, Kairat Sadvakassov, deputy chairman of Kazakh Tourism, said in a statement:
Kazakhstan’s nature is very nice. Its food is very nice. And its people, despite Borat’s jokes to the contrary, are some of the nicest in the world.
In short, Kazakhstan embraced Borat and are using it as an opportunity to attract more and more tourists towards their beautiful country. However, they did not arrive at that solution unilaterally. In fact, there were a lot of persuasions involved by American Dennis Keen and his friend Yermek Utemissov. They’re the ones who pitched the idea to the tourism board and even produced the advertisement, as reported by the New York Times. Keen told the Times:
I’ve had a lot of free time. Also, I just had a baby. When he grows up, I don’t want him to be ashamed of Borat. I want him to say, ‘That’s when my dad started this whole fun project.’
When the original Borat film was released, the authorities in Kazakhstan had a very harsh reaction towards the film. They banned DVDs and even the movie’s official website. The officials believed the movie portrayed Kazakhstan as a racist, sexist and primitive country. Even the Romanian village, where Sacha Baron Cohen shot the Kazakhstan scenes, felt insulted at the movie.
Borat 2 gets a mixed reaction
Despite Kazakhstan embracing Borat 2, the film has had a mixed reaction from audiences everywhere. The Kazakh American Association even wrote a raging letter to Amazon, saying:
Considering today’s socially aware political climate, why is a racist film which openly berates, bullies and traumatizes a nation comprised of people of color an acceptable form of entertainment that meets Amazon’s ethical values? Why is our small nation fair game for public ridicule?
However, when Sacha Baron Cohen had learned that Kazakhstan had embraced and accepted Borat 2, he released a statement via email, saying:
This is a comedy, and the Kazakhstan in the film has nothing to do with the real country. I chose Kazakhstan because it was a place that almost nobody in the U.S. knew anything about, which allowed us to create a wild, comedic, fake world. The real Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a modern, proud society — the opposite of Borat’s version.”
That’s very nice of Borat.