The new film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, about a fictional Kazakh TV reporter, is stirring controversy in the U.S. and abroad.
"Yackshimash! My name a Borat! I journalist for Kazakhstan. My government sent me to U.S. and A to make movie-film. Please you look."
In his coast-to-coast journey, fictitious Kazakh reporter Borat Sagdiyiev meets Americans from all walks of life. But he's no stranger to America. For more than three years, the character has appeared on the American cable network HBO as Borat, the sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic simpleton who awkwardly tries to understand Americans and their ways. British comedian Sasha Baron Cohen created the character and plays Borat.
The success of his TV series and the subsequent movie lies in the mock-documentary style of his comedy. No subject is off-limits. Borat interviews unsuspecting Americans about everything from dining etiquette to the battle of the sexes.
Borat: "Do you think that a woman should be educate?"
Linda Stein : "Definitely."
Borat: " But is it not that a woman have smaller brain than a man.?"
Other panelist: "That is wrong."
Borat: "But the government scientist Doctor Yamaka prove that it is the size of squirrel."
Other panelist: "It's wrong."
These exchanges may be hilarious to audiences, but some people who appear in the movie, like New York artist Linda Stein, are not laughing. "He is he really makes people look like jerks" she says.
Driving Instructor Michael Psenicka also has no idea that Borat is a fictitious character. He greets him cordially. "My name is Mike. I'm going to be your driving instructor. Welcome to our country, o.k.?
Borat: "My name a Borat." [He kisses Mike.]
Mike: "O.k., o.k., good, good…. I'm not used to that, but that's fine."
Now that he has seen his role in the movie, Michael Psenicka also feels he was taken for a ride. Although he says he will not sue, others will.
Harvey Z. Levin of the entertainment blog TMZ.com says that with success come lawsuits.
The film is so outspoken that no subject is off limits, including American politics.
[Borat speaking at a rodeo]: "Can I say we support your war of terror." (applause.)
Americans have mixed feelings about Sasha Baron Cohen's jokes. The film has also angered many Kazakhstanis.
Roman Vassilenko, a spokesman at Kazakhstan's embassy in Washington D.C., was dismissive of the movie. "What he presents," says Mr. Vassilenko, "is not Kazakhstan as many people know it, but a kind of Boratistan. It is a country of one. I mean people in their sane minds would probably know that any real country cannot be like what he describes in his show."
Others, like Kazakh Altai Utkeyevich, are not as diplomatic.
"I think he (Borat) should be killed," says Utkeyevich. "Our nation is most humane, but he should be killed straight away."
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Borat's creator, Sacha Baron Cohen, said, "The joke is not on Kazakhstan. I think the joke is on people who can believe that the Kazakhstan that I describe can exist -- a country where homosexuals wear blue hats and the women live in cages and they drink fermented horse urine."
The Kazakhstan government says it isn't planning to ban the movie, but the manager of the nation's biggest movie chain said the company would not screen it. Insulting or hilarious, the movie has already grossed more than $100 million and is expected to rake in even more profits from its American and international releases.