Kazakhstan's War of Words Against Borat
Sept. 28, 2006 — -- It was certainly one of the most unusual press conferences recently held in the nation's capital. "Borat" of Kazakhstan stood before a lectern outside the Kazakh Embassy in Washington and claimed that recent press reports describing Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev as upset with his portrayal of his homeland as bigoted and backward, were false.
"All claims that our glorious leaders is displeased with my film, 'Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,' is lyings," Borat said to tittering reporters. "In fact, main purpose of President Naserbayev's visit to Washington is promote this movie film."
Nazarbayev will be hosting a screening of the film, Borat said, with invited guests to include President "George Walter Bush," Secretary Rumsfeld, Bill Gates, "O.J. Simpsons" and "Mel Gibsons."
Borat, of course, is not really from Kazakhstan. He's not really "Borat." He's Sacha Baron Cohen, a British, Jewish, Cambridge-educated comedian who plays the fictional Kazakh reporter on HBO's "Da Ali G Show" and in his upcoming film.
But Cohen's portrayal of the eastern European country has so upset the Kazakhstan government that it has recently run television ads refuting Borat's point of view. "Conclave calls for religious tolerance among all faiths throughout the world," read one headline in a four-page New York Times insert, Wednesday.
Today, Borat offered his response, saying, "I would like to make a comment on the recent advertisements on television and in media about my nation of Kazakhstan saying that women are treated equally, and that all religions are tolerated," he said, adding, "These are disgusting fabrications."
The timing of Borat's D.C. stunt wasn't exactly a coincidence. Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev kicked off a tour of the U.S. today, and Borat's film is being released in November.
In "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," which has been described by critics as hilariously offensive, the fictitious Kazakh journalist leaves behind his beloved homeland and sister -- "the Number 4 prostitute in all Kazakhstan" -- and heads off to America.
As he drives cross country in hopes of meeting Pamela Anderson, he spoofs himself and the U.S. with equal deftness. At a midwestern rodeo, Borat proclaims his support for the war on terror and tells the cheering crowd, "May your warlord George Bush kill the terrorist men, women and children, and drink their blood!"
A gun store merchant is only too quick with a response when Borat asks, "What gun would you get to shoot a Jew?"
The film is just the latest shot in an escalating battle between the comedian and Kazakhstan.
After Borat's appearance at the MTV Europe awards last year, a spokesman for the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said the comedian may be "serving someone's political order designed to present Kazakhstan and its people in a derogatory way."
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