It’s been fourteen years since Sacha Baron Cohen brought Borat to screen, a dim-witted, yet hilarious Kazakh journalist who was on a path to wreak havoc in the lives of some unfortunate Americans. And wreak havoc, it did.
Depicting incest as a norm in a Kazakh village, mocking the ideologies of a panel of feminists, disrupting a live news telecast, singing a fictitious Kazakhstani national anthem, which reeks of jingoism, in front of an pissed off crowd and constantly deprecating the Jewish community is just a few ways Sacha Cohen had managed to piss off people and communities in the first movie.
Along came controversies and lawsuits from a bunch of outraged people and groups who denounced the movie and way they were depicted in it. The sequel Borat 2 is releasing today and it has already proved that it’s in the same league alongside the first one by already managing to bag a lawsuit before the movie’s initial release. On this day, let’s go back and read about some of the lawsuits and controversies that Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan managed to stir up.
Villagers of Glod, Romania
The opening shots of the film were shot in the village of Glod, Romania. Apparently, the villagers were lied to about the nature of the film and didn’t seem too glad on how they were depicted as being incestuous. The residents of that village asked for $38 million in damages after stating that they were paid only $1.24 for their cameo while others stated they were paid between $70 and $100 each. After two years of drama, the case was dismissed citing insufficient evidence as the reason.
Censorship in the Middle East
The movie wasn’t allowed to be screened in the Middle East except for Lebanon and United Arab Emirates, which censored the film heavily. In spite of this ban, Borat has managed to earn around $262 million worldwide, which is more than 14 times its budget.
The Fraternity Brothers
While hitchhiking to California, Borat is given a ride by a bunch of fraternity brothers from the University of South Carolina who gets drunk and make racist and derogatory comments about minorities and women. Two of them, Justin Seay and Christopher Rotunda, later sued the producers claiming defamation and also sought an injunction to prevent the DVD release of the film. Both lawsuits were eventually dismissed.
The Driving Instructor
Most of you might remember this scene as one of the most hilarious scenes in the movie but it did come with its repercussions. Michael Psenicska, the driving instructor, sued Baron Cohen, 20th Century Fox, and other parties for damages and sought for $100,000. He was reportedly paid $500 to give Borat a driving lesson. Psenicska stated that he wasn’t aware of the actual nature of the film and was told the movie was a "documentary about the integration of foreign people into the American way of life."
Bobby Rowe, Producer of the Salem Rodeo
Anyone who saw the film can confirm Borat singing a fictitious Kazakh national anthem in the tune of the American national anthem is one of the most memorable scenes in the entire movie. The producer of the Salem Rodeo where Borat performed can also state the same but for different reasons. After the film released, Rowe came out saying he had been the victim of a hoax. He stated that months prior to Borat’s arrival, he was approached by someone from "One America, a California-based film company that was reportedly doing a documentary on a Russian immigrant" and allowed the “immigrant” to sing the US national anthem after listening to a tape. After the film’s release, Rowe and his Rodeo became popular but Rowe wasn’t pleased about the reason behind the sudden fame.
Here's a quick look at the trailer of Borat 2.