The government of Kazakhstan is sorta kinda changing its tune on Borat, following the release of the second mockumentary last week:
- Back in 2006 the first movie was released — “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”
- After a 14 year break, the second movie was released — “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”
Kazakhstan is “very nice” in new ad campaign
Kazakhstan has just released a new ad campaign, highlighting the beauty of the country. In the ad, various people are heard saying “very nice,” which is one of the Borat catchphrases. Here’s the ad:
Personally I commend the government for trying to make the best of the publicity it’s getting from the film, even if the ad is a bit cheesy.
Understandably Kazakhstan as a country has taken issue with the Borat series:
- Nothing shown in the movie is truly reflective of the culture in Kazakhstan; ultimately the movie is intended to mock America, and Kazakhstan is just used as a prop to do that
- While the government is running an ad campaign using “very nice,” on Saturday Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry called the movie racist and xenophobic, but noted that protests were pointless, because they would only generate more publicity and profits for the filmmaker
- Kazakhstan had banned the first Borat film, and even threatened to sue Sacha Baron Cohen
My experience in Kazakhstan
In October 2016 I had the chance to briefly visit Kazakhstan. I’ve long been fascinated by Air Astana, so I flew Air Astana’s 767 and 757 business class, and visited Almaty and Astana (now known as Nur-Sultan).
Air Astana’s beautiful 767 business class
I’ve heard the real highlight of the country is the beautiful scenery outside the cities, but I even enjoyed the cities, and in particular Astana. What an intriguing and modern metropolis.
When I was in Kazakhstan I couldn’t help but ask some of the people I interacted with what they thought about Borat.
The way I view the Borat & Kazakhstan situation:
- The Borat movies are simultaneously the dumbest and most brilliant comedies imaginable; the humor is ridiculously stupid, but that’s largely just intended to highlight some aspects of our culture
- The truth is that with these movies, the joke is on the US, and not on Kazakhstan
- I would assume Kazakhstan is chosen as Borat’s home country because most Americans don’t know much about it, and it fits a stereotype; they could have just as easily chosen several other countries
- It’s sad, because if you talk to someone in the US about Kazakhstan, Borat is usually the first thing that comes to mind
Based on the people I talked to in Kazakhstan about the movie, there seemed to be two lines of thinking:
- Some people had mixed feelings about the movie, and at least claimed that they appreciated that more people became familiar with the country as a result of the movie, and some people even visited as a result
- Others were just annoyed, and viewed it entirely negatively for misrepresenting their country and culture; I can’t blame them
While Kazakhstan still thinks the Borat movie is racist and xenophobic, you can’t blame the country for at least trying to generate some positive publicity from it, by using the “very nice” phrase in a new ad campaign.
I’d love to return to Kazakhstan some day, both to see the countryside, and also to return to Nur-Sultan.
What do you make of Kazakhstan’s new “very nice” ad campaign?
PS: How can anyone claim that Rudy Giuliani was acting inappropriately in the film. C’mon, are you telling me you don’t lie down in bed, start to unbutton your pants, and ask for someone’s phone number and address when you’re being interviewed?