Friday, November 10, 2006

Checking in

What's today, the 10th? That should mean I'm at nearly 17,000 words? Alright, let's run a word count and the official total is. . . uhm. . . 745 words.

Still, that's better than I've done in the past several months, so we'll keep going with it. 50,000 words by the 30th? Not likely. A script and a story? That's still possible.

Anyway, to make up for my absence and inactivity, here are a couple of thoughts:

1. Gavin's theory of Borat.

No, I haven't actually seen the movie, but I've seen the Borat segments from the Ali G. Show and a lot of the in-character publicity interviews, which have been weird in and of themselves. The general theory of Borat is that Sacha Baron Cohen uses the character to dupe people into revealing their own prejudices, and we're invited to both laugh at their gullibility, and be disturbed at how easy it is to get people to assent to or express opinions that we generally pretend don't exist in our modern, enlightened society.

So what happens when someone is in on the joke? (Salon's Video Dog feature has a good archive of Borat press interviews here.) The general impression seems to have been that once everyone knows what's going on, that everything is all in good fun, and we get to laugh at Cohen's insistence on inhabiting a ridiculous character. I think this is too simplistic.

Cohen knows that he'll never be able to do the Borat character after this movie. Supposedly all the people now interviewing Borat are "in on the joke." Except they're not. They're laughing at an offensive Kazakh stereotype. So while Borat was a tool Cohen used to point out anti-semitism in people who weren't in on the joke, he's now pointing out a similar provincialism and racism in people who laugh at the extended "idiot foreigner" routine.

The only other option is that he doesn't realize or care that he's inhabiting stereotypes. And if that's the case, then there's no way to justify laughing at Borat at all. Because he's just a minstrel show.

I don't think the second possibility is all that likely, but I'm surprised that no one is talking about it. It feels to me kind of like Chappelle exiting Chappelle's Show because he started to wonder about who was watching and laughing at his show. It isn't supposed to be easy to laugh at Chappelle or Cohen. They aren't trying to make you feel good. The more time Andy Kaufman spent inhabiting a character, the more the joke was on his audience.

Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing Borat. But think before you start to sing along with "Throw the Jew Down the Well" on the soundtrack.

2. Hey, so Democrats can win elections after all.

Good on them. Still, it's worth checking out how your favorite superhero may have voted. (Via Entertainment Weekly, of all places.)

And that's 500 more words. That totally counts. :-)

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