. . . Thursday November 16, 2006

Ali Gee Whiz

In a rare out of character interview Sacha Baron Cohen describes his surprise that some folks don’t seem to get the point of Borat:

I was surprised, because I always had faith in the audience that they would realize that this was a fictitious country and the mere purpose of it was to allow people to bring out their own prejudices. And the reason we chose Kazakhstan was because it was a country that no one had heard anything about, so we could essentially play on stereotypes they might have about this ex-Soviet backwater. The joke is not on Kazakhstan. I think the joke is on people who can believe that the Kazakhstan that I describe can exist – who believe that there’s a country where homosexuals wear blue hats and the women live in cages and they drink fermented horse urine and the age of consent has been raised to nine years old…

I think part of the movie shows the absurdity of holding any form of racial prejudice, whether it’s hatred of African-Americans or of Jews … Borat essentially works as a tool … By himself being anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their own prejudice, whether it’s anti-Semitism or an acceptance of anti-Semitism…

This all makes perfect sense and it’s clearly a laudable goal. But are you surprised that Cohen was surprised?

Isn’t a given that there is absolutely no way that most viewers understand what Borat is getting at? In a world where half the people still think Saddam was behind 9-11, you think we have a lot of folks capable of understanding that Borat is not making fun of Kazakhstan but rather those people who believe such a place exists?

Almost every article (including the one referenced above) on the man behind Borat goes to great lengths to describe his own pretty serious level of Judaism and his efforts to keep a kosher diet. Again, will people who don’t know the name Sacha Baron Cohen is Jewish get the subtleties beneath the surface of his over the top humor?

I suppose one has to make the joke and hope people will understand its gist. Perhaps it would’ve been better, in retrospect, to give Borat’s fictional homeland a fictional name as well?

Ultimately, one doesn’t want to limit humor to the lowest common denominator of those people who will get the joke – otherwise, there would be a lot less Borat and a lot more Two and a Half Men and no one wants that. I’m pretty sure Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedic genius. I just hope the widespread swath of viewers can rise to his level. I guess if they can’t, the jokes on them, eh?

The Golden Arches Gate Bridge

Due to a longstanding deficit, the folks who run the Golden Gate Bridge are considering ways to get corporate backers involved. I can take our stadiums being renamed – in San Francisco, we’ve gone from Pac Bell Park, to SBC Park to AT&T Park in a matter of a few seasons. But do we really want to brand our national treasures? What are we thinking here, the Golden Gateway Bridge? The Lincoln Continental Memorial? The Empire AllState Building?

But It Ain’t TV

AOL has a new man at the top. Randy Falco comes over from NBC Universal. According to TWAOL Chairman Richard Parsons, “A key to Time Warner’s digital future, AOL is showing early success in transitioning to an advertising-focused business model, and Randy is a first-rate choice to ensure AOL realizes its promise.”

It’s funny that big companies always think they need an old school media person to run web companies as they move toward being more ad-supported. This is the web, folks. I’d rather have a web guy at the top to make sure the product offering wins. Put the media guy in charge of sales.

The Daily Melt

Fewer Polar Bear Cubs are surviving in Alaska. Anyone want to guess why?


Pelosi’s first (and odd) power move among the Dems fails as
Murtha loses his bid to be her number 2 … Whitney’s mansion is being foreclosed (she dumped Bobby like we wanted, what say we all chip in and cover this?) … Emmitt Smith takes home the top prize on Dancing with the Stars (his enthusiasm was infectious) … The illogical and foolish anti online gambling law (I haven’t hit a bet in three weeks and I am still wildly against it) … Promoting democracy in Cuba by way of cashmere sweaters, computer games and chocolates … Clickstar plans to make movies available online at about the same time they’re released in theaters … Are your ready to vote in national elections using your TiVo remote? If things go that way, I am picking Steve Carell as the next President of the United States … Are burritos sandwiches? Let’s let the courts decide … And the internal Fox Memo that will not shock you one bit

Concentration is important!