Saturday, November 04, 2006
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
“Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Matt. 24:42
This movie is not for everyone, but it should be.
In this crass and in-your-face comedy, fictional Kazak journalist Borat Sagdiyev (played by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen) travels across the United States to learn about and to experience American culture in order to help his fellow countrymen learn about their global neighbors.
However, what really happens with Borat is that we in America get a snapshot of our own country in this, the early twenty-first century, and that picture is not pretty.
This movie reveals that there are people in this country who are still rude, ignorant, bigoted, sexist, racist, homophobic, and as anti-Semitic as ever. It reveals that underneath our niceties and politically correct ways, there are Americans who would condone (and even promote) the killing of Jews, gays, and Muslims, if not others.
When I see this film, putting aside the outlandish and crude humor of the protagonist Borat, I see this as a real-life example of Christ’s warning in the Scriptures: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Matt. 24:42-44).
One of the worst bumper stickers I ever saw for Christian was one with the quote “Jesus is coming. Look busy.” It’s a horrible statement because there is this societal notion that we are modern Jonahs, trying to pretend that somehow we can escape the eye of God in our lives and only live gospel-oriented lives when someone is watching.
Many people try to avoid having to answer for their prejudices, but Borat is like the thief in the night that Jesus warns about; the public we encounter in this film do not know Cohen is coming or what he was doing, and they allowed themselves to expose their true and ugly nature.
I have heard others have been offended by Cohen’s crass actions in this movie. However, I am even more offended by the people Cohen meets in this movie. Those people, not Cohen and his camera crew, are the ones that should be ashamed.
This film serves as a reminder to all of us to heed Christ’s warnings. Where will we be when our opinions are held on the line? It is one thing to have prejudices exposed on movie screens across the country, but what will we say when Christ looks into our eye and seeks us out? For the real people in this film, Borat was like Christ’s omniscient eye; let us pray that we, too, will be prepared at all times and in all ways.