Saturday, November 11, 2006

Borat the Philosopher

My son and I went to Borat the Movie today. The movie has some funny bits, but I was impressed how quickly I concluded that I got his joke. It seems to try to offend a large number of groups in society, often without a seeming purpose. This is not satire, it is a series of jokes that seem designed to shock the audience. It soon became predictable.

What was most interesting to me was my son's reactions to the movie. As we were walking out of the movie, I asked him what he thought. He compared it to an entertainment vehicle when he was about 14 - Beavis and Butthead. He reminded me of when we went to their movie, which had many of the same qualities. Devices designed to shock but not a lot of thought about the long term structure of the movie or the message. In many ways he believed that Beavis and Butthead or South Park was a bit more carefully constructed. I think he is right.

Comedy can often offend out sensibilities. Lenny Bruce would be pretty tame stuff today. But unlike Bruce, Sascha Cohen does not seem to be thinking about anything than the next tasteless joke. There is a lot of controversy about both whether the script was in fact the creation of Cohen and also whether some of the candid scenes were actually obtained with the consent of the people in the scenes. Cohen used former Congressman Bob Barr and former Senate Candidate Alan Keyes. I am not sure why either of those guys agreed to be in the movie.

In the end this movie is a disappointment. What was interesting to me was my son's thoughtful response to what the movie offered. I was impressed at his thinking.

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