To Refute Borat, Kazakhstan Make to Glorious Four-Page Times Ad

94121__borat_lWhen you prick a Central Asian Republic, does it not bleed? No. It takes down a website and threatens to sue. And then, for the second time in 10 months, it takes out a four-page ad in The New York Times.

Perhaps in response to Borat: Cultural Learnings of American For to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the government of the former Soviet satellite is embarking on an all-out PR rampage. The nation’s leaders are unhappy with comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and his alter ego, an earnest Kazakh reporter named Borat, and they’re possessed of enough oil to bring our president’s attention to the subject. Which means there is an excellent chance that George W. Bush will actually watch Borat — and, in doing so, witness one of the most protracted naked-manfights ever put on film. (This gives me untold delight.)

Now, the Kazakhstan of Borat is about as reality-based as the Transylvania of Bela Lugosi. Even some Kazakhs (at least, those not in government jobs) think Cohen’s spoof is funny. But their well-traveled leaders know how thick and literal-minded Americans are. So they’ve provided us with something we can understand: puff pieces, accompanied by neatly-laid out facts and figures.

addCredit(“Borat: Alexandra Lambrinidis”)

The ad (starting on page A-11 of yesterday’s issue) is one of thefaux-article jobbies, designed to blend with adjacent news stories. InKZ’s defense, the section’s ”stories” quote (among others) a ”wellknown Turkish architect” who swears that ”nothing disturbing happens tome here.” A German travel agent recommends the country to businesstravelers and blurrily avers that ”the trend for combining work andplay is up, but you can’t go anywhere but up when you start from zero.”OK!

The ad is trying to address Western concerns about KZ head-on.There’s an insistence on religious tolerance and gender equality, alongwith a hard look at the nation’s history-bequeathed liabilities. ”Aninheritance isn’t always a blessing,” one piece begins,conversationally. ”What do you do if you inherit over a thousandnuclear warheads and a nuclear test bomb site?” At one point, the adnotes, with Borat-like candor, that KZ has ”more babies with birthdefects than elsewhere in the world.”

This sort of hard-sell has the lightly absurd side-effect ofmimicking Borat’s Kazakh National Anthem. (”Kazakhstan is number one /Exporter of potassium / All other Central Asian Nations / Have inferiorpotassium.”)

When the movie actually opens, and people figure out that Cohen’s Borat isn’t Kazakh-derived at all, but a clear descendant of Turkish Internet icon Mahir, and that the movie is an epic evisceration of the U.S., not Kazakhstan, will the American government take out its own 4-page horn-tooter? And will Mahir still be in a kissing mood?


Comments (16 total)
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  • Derek

    Isn’t Sacha Baron Cohen British?
    Why are we being blamed?

  • Ep Sato

    Kazakhstan’s had a one party dictatorship ruling over the country since it left the Soviet Union. They are one of the world’s largest nuclear powers, and all the Soyuz rockets seem to land there (to call it the old Soviet Union’s New Jersey would be an insult to New Jersey). So all that said, Borat’s brought a lot of attention to that country, and it may actually bolster Kazakhstan’s image abroad. Maybe the Kazakh government has gotten offended because Borat has struck a nerve? Maybe his comments hit too close to home?
    Incidentally, did the US take out a four page ad in any Venezuelan magazines after their leader called President Bush “the devil” on the floor of the UN? Clearly that’s a country we need to do some PR work in…

  • Catty Canuck

    No one should be “blamed” for Sacha Baron Cohen’s brilliance, everyone should be trying to take credit . . .

  • Dave

    Just to clarify, Kazakhstan is not one of the world’s largest nuclear powers, as they voluntarily gave up their nuclear weapons after becoming an independent state when the Soviet Union disolved.

  • Paul

    Good on you Borat at least Kasakhstan gets some good news that may make people have a good laugh perhaps America could send in one of its comedians to Iran or Iraq for example instead of 150,000 soldiers it would save a lot of money and then people would laugh with America not at it

  • Paul G Keher

    Good on you Borat at least Kasakhstan gets some good news that may make people have a good laugh perhaps America could send in one of its comedians to Iran or Iraq for example instead of 150,000 soldiers it would save a lot of money and then people would laugh with America not at it

  • abi

    They really needn’t worry. I doubt most Americans even know Kazakhstan is a real place.

  • ftworthbabe

    Stop with the stories on this guy! AND the photo in that bathing suit!

  • Daniel

    Lighten up Kazakhstan! You may get more people to visit if “you make to sense humor”.

  • Stephanie Travitsky

    Could you PLEASE stop showing that photo of Baron-Cohen in a Glo-Worm thong! That is just plain nasty!

  • Jack

    Don’t listen to the naysayers, that picture is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedy genius. You could do a story on him everyday and it would be fine by me.

  • Nancy Walker

    This is vile! He should be thrown into an excavation pit for coming out in public looking so gross.

  • Stephanie Travitsky

    I am not saying that he is not funny, he is hilarious but the outfit is bad. There is nothing wrong with him in a thong- just not hiked up to his shoulders and perhaps a dull metalic blue, not snot green.

  • xasas

    Love this comment!

  • blue980

    The US isnt getting blamed..
    You just think you are. And many of you probably even think Sacha is american. Quite normal american reactions.

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