Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

(БОЯДГ: Культурное Изучение Америки для Делает Выгоду Великолепной Нацией Казахстана, 2006)

So, is it as funny as all the hype made it out to be? Audiences love it, except those who hate it. Critics love it (89% positive at Metacritic, 92% at Rotten Tomatoes). We had to see, despite severe misgivings on both our parts. And I have to say, I didn’t find it funny at all …
NOT!!! I laughed my ass off. I would never recommend it to anybody, because this is really, really a case of something that will make some folks laugh and leave others either cold, or revolted. But I had a good time. It’s not as good as they’re saying it is (it’s almost impossible that it could be), but it is the most irreverent, iconoclastic, boundary-pushing, balls-out comedy I’ve seen in a long time.
And I don’t normally care for this type of ambush reality-television stuff, I really don’t. But in every case, the people who look like assholes look like assholes for one simple reason: they are assholes. I simply can’t believe that those college pricks in the RV are suing Cohen for making them look silly. He didn’t make them say a single racist, anti-Semitic, anti-female word. All that stuff came pouring out of the toilet bowls they use for mouths of their own volition. And the people from that Romanian village that stood in for Kazakhstan, they’re pissed off, too! I can see why Kazakhs would be pissed (though they’ve taken a new tack now, and are advertising for tourist dollars and will probably get them). Of course, anybody with half a brain knows Kazakhstan isn’t like that. And Cohen put those Romanians on the map, too. What are they bitching about?
It’s disturbing, too, you feel very uncomfortable laughing as Borat drags these cockroaches out into the light and lets them put on their little racist tap dances. The only people who don’t seem to be pissed at this film are Americans, who come across as boobs. And by golly, some of us are! Big surprise!
The most disturbing part of it all, to me, was when Borat went to a big Evangelical revival meeting. I’ve seen it before, on television and in real life, but it never fails to be puke-worthy in my eyes. People speaking in tongues, leaping around like spastics, lying on the floor in epileptic fits. These folks are one step up from snake handlers, my friends, and they are not rare! This is happening in your community. Look at them for five minutes and you suddenly understand Jonestown. You realize that, in the grip of religious frenzy, they are capable of anything. Literally anything. These are very sick people. They are suffering from a disease, and I’m not speaking metaphorically here, I mean a literal disease. They frighten me a hundred times more than al-Qaeda does, because they attack my precious country from the inside. They’re in Congress, they’re in the White House. And all they really need is a leader to tell them what God wants them to do. (We can be thankful that George W. Bush is not that leader. He couldn’t lead a turd out of his own asshole.) Robert Heinlein predicted a religious takeover of the United States in his “Future History” stories. He predicted it for about 1980, but he knew what he was talking about, and if someone comes along with the charisma of Nehemiah Scudder, this nation is in deep shit. These people are exactly like the Shiite and Sunni death squads we’ve unleashed in Iraq. They would be capable of finding sinners and drilling holes in them with their power tools (as they are doing in Iraq, where the favored instrument of torture now is the Craftsman electric drill) until they die, beheading them, dragging their corpses through the street, and then coming home to dinner with the family, prayers, and a sound night’s sleep. If God or the Prophet asks them to.
Sorry about that. They just give me a severe case of the creeps.
Finally, a word about Kazakhstan. I looked it up and read a little about it, and found that it is a prospering country with a government that is a little suspect (may have stolen the last election; thank god that can’t happen here!), that is mixed in terms of religion and ethnicity, and where Jews are not persecuted. It is rapidly modernizing, and is emphatically not the shit-hole depicted in this movie. However, I delved a little into their national cuisine, and was fascinated to learn that the national dish is something called Besbarmak. It is served on the national day, December 17, and other festive occasions. I even found the following recipe (which was entirely too small for a major feast, so I increased the quantities so there’d be enough to feed a large crowd). Lamb can be substituted for the meat in question, but I swear I’m not making this up. Well, only a little of it.
With Thanksgiving coming up, I offer it to you as a welcome alternative to another goddam turkey. Try it! We’re going to, as soon as we find out where the nearest knackers is in Los Angeles! (There is quite a bit of protocol as to who eats what when it’s served at a wedding, which I’m including at the end of the recipe.)

* 700 pounds flour
* 320 gallons water
* 13 pounds baking powder
* 10 pounds salt
* 50 pounds vegetable oil
* 1 horse
Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl thoroughly. Leave the dough for 2-3 hours in a cool place. Then cut the dough into little pieces. Roll out every piece into a braid 1 cm in diameter. Oil every braid evenly, set aside for 20-30 minutes. After that pull out every braid 2-3 times as long. Cook pulled noodles in boiling salted water and wash in running cold water. Serve noodles on a bed of lettuce.
Kill, skin, and dismember horse. Save blood for sauce. Set aside entrails for sausage. Put urine in wooden vat, add yeast, allow to ferment 12 hours, drink. Six hours if you’re in a hurry. Ten minutes if you’re desperate. Boil horse until tender. Serve over noodles, placing head in center, smiling if possible.

Proper wedding service of Besbarmak:
Horse’s liver goes to the fathers of the newlyweds to bind the promise that will keep the marriage bond intact. Young boys are given the ears to remind them to be careful; girls get tongue so as to be diligent. The most respected guest are given gammon and shank. The young bride gets brisket; married women, instead, take neck-bones. Children are given kidney and heart, which makes them mature. Never serve horse’s brain to kids – it makes them weak-willed. Knuckle should never be served to a young girl; otherwise she might forever remain an old maid.