In a brand new episode of "What the F*ck Is Going On, 2020," Amazon released Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, the sequel to Sacha Baron Cohen's 2006 comedic satire Borat. Like pretty much everything else that has happened this year, Borat's return to America was a complete curveball.
My initial reaction when I learned that Baron Cohen secretly filmed Borat 2 while the world as we know it fell apart was "claaaassic 2020." Being constantly shocked and surprised are literally the only constants of this godforsaken time. But obviously I had to watch, I mean...what else am I supposed to do while social distancing? Another effing Zoom?
As you probably already know, the ingenuity of the first Borat movie was that in most scenes, Baron Cohen interacted with real people (not actors) who were totally unaware that they were participating in a gag. And as a viewer, part of the thrill and hilarity was trying to figure out whether the folks on screen were in on the joke or completely clueless. Lucky for all of us stuck at home with plenty of time to ponder, the same dynamic applies to Borat 2. It's very unclear how much of the film is real, so let's break down which of the wildest scenes 1,000% happened IRL.
WARNING: Spoilers. Ahead.
The Rudy Giuliani Scene
Yeah, this scene was......really, really, really bad. Borat caught former New York City Mayor (and President Trump's personal attorney) Rudy Giuliani in an extremely awkward situation. Like...there's video evidence of Giuliani sticking his hands down his pants alone in a hotel room with Tatur (the actress Maria Bakalova) who is posing as a journalist. The catch is that she's...15.
During the interview, Giuliani is shown drinking scotch and talking about how the Chinese manufactured COVID-19. For reasons unknown, they wind up in a bedroom, where he says, "You can give me your phone number and your address." Then, as he removes his microphone, he reclines on the bed and sticks his hand FAR down his pants for WAY TOO LONG.
When this scene hit Twitter a few days before the film dropped, Giuliani tried to defend himself by calling the video “a complete fabrication. I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment. At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar.”
— tomatenmarc (@tomaten_marc) October 23, 2020
Mike Pence's Present
Who could sneak into a Conservative Political Action Conference where Vice President Pence is speaking, dressed in a full-blown Trump costume complete with a fat suit and a prosthetic face that took five hours to put on, carrying his daughter on his shoulder to give to Pence as a gift? Only Borat.
The incident made headlines in late February, but at the time, no one knew it was actually Baron Cohen, who pulled the whole thing off rather brilliantly. "[I] ended up hiding in the bathroom," Baron Cohen said, "listening to conservative men go to the toilet for five hours until I broke into the room. We were surrounded by Secret Service and police and internal security.”
The Anti-Choice Priest
Yet another interaction that is so surreal and awful you wish it was a hoax. Tatur swallows a plastic baby that was decorating the top of a cupcake, so Borat takes her to a crisis-pregnancy center—but it's actually an anti-abortion clinic. They meet with Pastor Jonathan Bright and explain to him that Borat "put a baby inside" of Tatur, clearly stating that they are father and daughter and therefore the fetus is a product of incest. Bright insists that nevertheless, they need to have the baby, saying, "I don't need to hear any more of that. Really, that is not important right now...It really doesn't matter how we got to this moment." Yep, this pastor completely ignores the incest detail and instead says, "God is the one who creates life, and God doesn't make accidents."
Judith Dim Evans
A supremely offensive scene that turns into perhaps the best moment of the film is when Borat visits Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta, Georgia, and meets Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans. Borat dresses up as an over-the-top anti-Semitic Jewish stereotype, and informs Evans that the Holocaust never happened because Facebook told him so. Evans embraces Borat with empathy and love. She explains that Jews aren't evil, that the Holocaust did happen and she's a survivor. Apparently this is one of the only times Baron Cohen actually broke character and told Evans about the gag. Evans passed away shortly after the interaction, and the film is dedicated in her memory. She is a much needed reminder that love is stronger than hate.
— Stefan ❤ I got no back up plan, it's only you ❤ (@StefanTetelepta) October 23, 2020
Quarantining with QAnon
Yes, Borat actually moved in with two QAnon conspiracy-believing Trump supporters during the COVID-19 lockdown. Baron Cohen said of the experience, “the hardest thing I had to do was, I lived in character for five days in this lockdown house. I was waking up, having breakfast, lunch, dinner, going to sleep as Borat when I lived in a house with these two conspiracy theorists. You can’t have a moment out of character.”
Baron Cohen wanted to show “that they’re ordinary folks who are good people, who have just been fed this diet of lies. They’re completely different to the politicians who are motivated by their own power, who realized that they can create fear by spreading these lies through the most effective propaganda machine in history," AKA social media platforms.
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