UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Borat the Movie: Dark Humor or Offensive?

I have decided to review “Borat 2,” also known as “Borat Subsequent Movie film,” more specifically focusing on whether this film falls under the field of dark comedy, offensive comedy, or both. For the people who don’t know who Borat is, he is a fictional character from Kazakhstan who is played by Sacha Baron Cohen. The original film came out in 2006, where Borat, a journalist, travels to U.S. in hopes of finding a new wife. This film, despite its titular character being a persona, is a documentary that is heavily reliant on the protagonist’s interactions with other Americans. 

To say that the first film had received a lot of backlash would be an understatement. The first movie was banned in Kazakhstan for a while; it was also censored in various Arab nations, excepting Lebanon (1). In addition to it being banned, a lot of people found the jokes in it quite offensive and did not enjoy the film. It has even been met with lawsuits ranging from college students who were a part of the documentary, to an entire town offended that he had used their town as a setting for Borat’s hometown.(2). 

One can assume that a film that receives so much backlash and is met with various lawsuits would make a potential sequel unthinkable. However, despite all of the hate, Jason Woliner decided to pick up this movie once again and make a “Borat 2.” “Borat 2” was released on Oct. 23 of this year. The fictional character once again travels to the U.S. and interacts with American society and culture.  However, this time, he doesn’t go voluntarily. This time, he is sent on a mission to deliver a present to someone within Donald Trump’s circle, Mike Pence. This gift is intended to act as a peace offering, in order for America to consider being Kazakhstan’s ally (3). This is where things begin to turn ugly in my opinion, because the gift ends up being Borat’s daughter, Tutar. Tutar voluntarily replaces herself with the original gift, in order to travel to America and become like “Princess Melania.”

From the very start of the film, the audience can start to understand that this sort of comedy is not intended for the lighthearted individuals. I for one, could not watch more than half of the movie, if not less, without feeling bad for watching such a thing. This brings me to my next question: What field of comedy would Borat fall under? Dark comedy, offensive comedy, or both? Personally, I think it definitely works as a combination of both.

Dark comedy, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a type of humor that ordinarily makes fun of taboo subjects that don’t tend to usually be discussed. These sorts of jokes are seen at the very start of the film. For example, when Borat said that Obama’s decision to become a president had led to other Africans becoming leaders, and then showing an old picture of the prime minister in Canada, Justin Trudeau, in blackface makeup. Another example is when Borat decided that in order for him to be able to enter Vice President Mike Pence’s “conference of Republicans” he needed to dress up as a KKK member. It’s moments like these that not only elicits shock, but also possibly some kind laughter as well. 

Then there are certain jokes within the film that have just gone too far in my opinion and are just plain offensive. For example, when Tutar eats the baby doll on the cupcake and they go to the hospital to take it out. To start off with, Tutar is taken to a conservative hospital. In addition to that, the doctor is not given any background knowledge on what really happened. Borat is just continuously saying that he put a baby in his daughter and that they want it out. The doctor, being pro-life, refuses to take it out, thinking it was a real baby. Another offensive scene is when Borat is buying a cage for Tutar. He asks the cage owner how many girls can actually fit in that cage, and then proceeds to praise President Donald Trump, or as he likes to call him “McDonald Trump” for “caging Mexicans.” There were also constant stereotypical jokes about Jews: for example he makes a joke about their noses. When it comes to a person’s personal life, what they identify as, and the struggles that they or anyone that they are associated with are suffering from, that is when it starts to become offensive. Making jokes about serious situations like Borat does can be belittling to these situations. 

In conclusion, “Borat” and its sequel are pretty risqué when it comes to comedy, and they are not for the lighthearted. People who intend to watch “Borat” or “Borat 2” have to go in with a very open mind, because it’s jokes are not light, and actually depict what is going wrong within reality. Let me know what you guys thought about the film if you watched it and whether your would consider it dark comedy, or offensive comedy. 

  1. https://www.tuko.co.ke/387823-borat-10-fun-facts-movie-is-real.html 

  2. https://lawsuits.ultratrust.com/borat-lawsuits.html#:~:text=Since%20the%20making%20of%20Borat%20there%20have%20been,as%20the%20backdrop%20for%20Borat%E2%80%99s%20hometown%20of%20Kazakhstan.

  3. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/borat-sequel-sacha-baron-cohen-review_n_5f906c60c5b62333b241531a?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuYmluZy5jb20v&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAAS6mncPM9jJVvnt8wVf9gq4BGHFw5RQ7TQl_dj6alfoDUIno3HehyHYUNyxKtoRr472qyt1xCOJcwMgyrFi4iFgryQw3T4cRhOsOa-hTYxq6dzmSMWCc8k5u8xV7rUzz6KrtYvkBaS8jRhbd00JaNHTrdCTX4McoV1lUJwfc0a8