Borat 2: Is Borat Subsequent Moviefilm funny or just terrifying?

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Courtesy of Amazon Studios
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Courtesy of Amazon Studios /

Borat 2 is supposed to be a comedy…or is it?

Borat 2 has already gained some pretty big buzz, especially after it caught former New York City Mayor and lawyer to President Trump, Rudy Giuliani with his hand in his pants. The stunt has caused even the president himself to weigh in, which of course required star Sacha Baron Cohen to respond to the commentary.

So, even those people who might not have otherwise had Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (the long title for Borat 2) on their to-watch list might find themselves turning to Amazon Prime to see what the fuss is all about. The thing is, now might not be the best time to try to find humor in the situation.

Certainly, anyone familiar with Sacha Baron Cohen’s brand of comedy probably knows better than to think the jokes are going to be all light-hearted fun and games. But to those who are new to all of this, just beware: A lot of people in this film are not actors; as in, if they go along with something awful, that’s really something they’d do when they feel secure that no one is watching.

Borat 2 is kind of terrifying when you really think about it

Much of Borat’s most recent trip to “U. S. and A” is centered on trying to give a gift to Mike Pence. When the monkey he’s initially tasked with giving the Vice President is eaten, he goes with the next best thing—his 15-year-old daughter, Tutar.

Borat 2
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Courtesy of Amazon Studios /

Borat 2 finds the titular character taking Tutar to all sorts of places to learn how to be a gift worthy of “Mikhael” Pence. An instagram influencer, Macey Chanel, teaches Tutar that she shouldn’t be too “aggressive,” that she wants men to like her so they will give her money. A man at a debutante ball whispers with Borat about how much Tutar might be worth, and an indulgent salesman at a farm supply store helps dear old Dad find the perfect cage for trafficking his daughter.

Bonus: They even decide how much propane would be needed to “finish lives of 20 gypsies.”

It’s in Borat’s adventures with Tutar that we see the underbelly of America—shop owners who are more than happy to participate in selling a daughter off to the highest bidder, evangelicals at “crisis” pregnancy centers who aren’t concerned that a father “put the baby in” his teen daughter, and countless other examples of how much people are just A-OK with using a young girl as a gift. But the disturbing qualities of the movie don’t stop there.

The anti-semitic tropes are, like those that paint teenaged girls as commodities to be sold off, disturbingly easy to come across. Even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because of his beliefs, a baker in Borat 2 is more than happy to scrawl “Jews will not replace us” on a cake at a random stranger’s request.

It’s not as if she needed to fear retaliation, should she have questioned the customer or refused based on any kind of moral standing, but well. She didn’t look too perturbed by the request anyway.

Then, there’s a plastic surgeon, Dr. Charles Wallace, who assures Borat that Tutar doesn’t “look like a Jew” and then goes on to elaborate on what a stereotypical Jewish nose would look like.

Perhaps the scariest and most heartbreaking image is the complete lack of shock—they’ve seen and heard all this before—when Borat runs into two Jewish women, one of whom survived the Holocaust, when he’s dressed as the most grossly stereotypical Jew possible upon entering a synagogue. They’re not shocked when he talks about them injecting him with venom or eating him; they simply offer him kind reassurances.

The kind of casual antisemitism exhibited by the likes of Dr. Wallace and the baker are far too easy to find. And when Borat decides to go to “the nearest synagogue to wait for the next mass shooting” because he’s depressed about his failed mission, it’s only “funny” because it’s possible.

Even the conspiracy theories around the Clintons drinking the blood of children reek of antisemitic tropes. The Clintons themselves aren’t Jewish, of course—but quite a number of the Democrats who supported them, and are supposedly responsible for manufacturing COVID-19 (according to Borat’s newest friends), are.

When Borat crashes CPAC dressed in KKK robes, he gets a number of horrified stares. But nobody does anything, not until he has the audacity to interrupt Mike Pence’s speech. Even those unnerved by the sight of the robes and/or a man carrying a girl over his shoulder like a sack of flour just aren’t willing to say he’s not welcome.

Borat 2
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Courtesy of Amazon Studios /

And then, the grand finale of antisemitic imagery in Borat 2: Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed as one of the locals, goes to a rally where, among other things, he asks to “let’s hear it for gas ‘em up like the Germans.” Not only do members of the crowd cheer; some of them even give the nazi salute.

So, yeah…Borat 2 is fun and funny when Sacha Baron Cohen pretends to be an idiotic reporter from another country who can’t even comprehend smartphones.

Or when he has an entire conversation via fax that could just as easily been had via text messaging… But it’s not really fun and games if you’re one of the people who stands to be harmed by the attitudes that were far too easy for the comedian to find for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

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But should you watch it? Yes. Because the scary parts are exactly the point.

Borat 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime.