14 years may be passed between the release of the first Borat movie and its sequel, but Sacha Baron Cohen proved in the latter this year that he’s still incredibly skilled at deception and general tomfoolery while playing his Kazakh journalist character. Borat 2, a.k.a. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, has been met with primarily positive reception since it dropped on Amazon Prime Video late last month, though that’s not to say everyone is pleased with the movie. For example, there’s now a call from the Kazakh community for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm to be disqualified from awards consideration, including the Oscars.
Having previously petitioned for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’s Prime Video release to be cancelled, the Kazakh American Association (a Virginia-based non-profit group dedicated to “preserving and promoting” Kazakh heritage and culture in the United States) has now released a letter asking that the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards not allow this movie to be eligible for any awards. This letter, which was co-signed by the Hollywood Film Academy and Council on American-Islamic Relations, declared that Borat 2 promotes “whitewashing, ethnic stereotyping, racism, cultural appropriation, and xenophobia.” The letter continued (via Variety):
The Kazakh community worldwide is underrepresented and inherently vulnerable. Our nation is still recovering from an oppressive colonial past, which is why we do not have substantial media representation. Sacha Baron Cohen understands this fact and exploits Kazakhstan by hijacking our ethnic identity, whitewashing us by portraying us as Eastern Europeans, and inciting harassment toward Kazakh people worldwide. Our people report countless cases of sexual and physical harassment as well as bullying due to the Borat franchise.
The Kazakh American Association also mentioned in its letter that Sacha Baron Cohen could have created a fake nation for Borat Sagdiyev to come from. This was the approach taken with Cohen’s 2012 movie The Dictator, as that eponymous character, Admiral General Aladeen, as from the Republic of Wadiya. But because Borat is Kazakh, the KAA believes that Borat Subsequent Moviefilm portals the Kahzakh people as “misogynistic, incestuous, anti-Semitic, and barbarous” for Western audiences.
While Amazon has not issued an official response to this letter, following the KAA’s earlier attempt to have Borat Subsequent Moviefilm removed from Prime Video, Sacha Baron Cohen said in a statement last month that the reason he chose Kazakhstan for his character to come from was because “almost nobody in the U.S. knew anything about.” This allowed him to create “a wild, comedic, fake world,” and Cohen described the real-life Kazakhstan as “a beautiful country with a modern, proud society — the opposite of Borat’s version.” It’s worth mentioning that Kazakhstan’s government, which banned Borat back in the day, has been more receptive to the sequel, going to far as to use the character’s “Very Nice” catchphrase as part of a tourism campaign.
Considering that the first Borat movie scored both an Academy Award (for Best Adapted Screenplay) and a Golden Globe nomination (for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy), it’s entirely possible Borat Subsequent Moviefilm could earn similar accolades, hence why the Kazakh American Association has sent this letter out now. In particular, Maria Bakalova’s performance as Borat’s daughter, Tutar, has received a lot of praise, with some arguing that she should be nominated for an Oscar.
Should that happen, or if Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is nominated for any prestigious awards, we here at CinemaBlend will let you know. For now, keep track of movies that are still intended for theatrical release next year with our 2021 release schedule.