Did we over-media 'Borat' to death?

175452__borat_l_1Yesterday’s newsflash: We, the foot soldiers of amalgamated media, love Borat (pictured)! Today’s newsflash: You don’t know who he is!

Well, some of you do. But not enough to warrant the planned 2000-screen rollout of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s excoriating satire Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Twentieth Century Fox has narrowed the Borat invasion to a more indie-friendly 800 screens, not because of the controversy with Kazakhstan or (as far as we know) a Fox-y fear of heartland backlash, but simply because most people simply don’t know Borat from Borax.

Could you come cold to Borat, "get" the joke and be wildlyentertained? Absolutely. But if that question has to be asked at all,that’s too much ambiguity for the distribution wizards. They’re lookingfor "awareness," which also happens to be the lowest standard doctorslook for in coma patients. (A measure of the esteem in which you’reheld, gentle reader.) And, statistically speaking, the nation is not "aware" of Borat. They also worry that people won’t read the conceitunless they’re already "in on the joke." Golly, they must think you’repretty stupid.

But you know what? They’re right. Not about the stupid part — thejury’s out on that one. They’re right about the awareness thing and thebreadth of the appeal. I freely admit a media conspiracy surroundingBorat: It’s a conspiracy of taste.

I don’t think of myself as a snob (I have other people to do thatfor me), but I confess, I like things that make me laugh. Jim Belushifarting conventionally doesn’t. Cartman farting anarchically does. Sodoes Baron Cohen ripping this great nation a new one with fearless satiricflair. Baron Cohen’s great, Sellersesque even. He’s done somethingremarkable, he deserves to be seen, and we of the Media-natidesperately want to make him a fait accompli — for all the right reasons,too. But because it’s for all the right reasons, we’ve been perhaps abit too willing to jump aboard Borat’s promo train. Perhaps that wasn’tgood for us — or for Borat.

Because (and we forget this sometimes) you haven’t seen this movieyet. And our perfectly virtuous campaign to convince you of its (veryreal) genius began so early, and reached such a shrill pitch, itsimultaneously convinced Fox to pursue an unrealistic rolloutand convinced "early adopters" that Borat wasn’t an undergroundsensation, but a corporate stratagem. (In fact, it’s both.)

The fact of the matter is: You, discriminating media consumer, discovered Waiting for Guffman, Office Space, and Tenacious D. And you deserve to discover Borat, before we buzzkill it with highminded hype. We tried to make this an arranged marriage. We should’ve just let y’all flirt.

So, from all of us here at the Death Star, I apologize: to you,media consumers; to Borat; and to the nation of Kazakhstan, to whom weare sending 80 vats of our finest fermented horse urine.


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  • nathan

    2000 screens does seem like a lot, I just hope my theater is one of the 800, can’t wait to see it. I doubt it has anything to do with the Kazakhstan controversy, I just can’t see anyone caring enough about that country for it to make any difference.

  • Rahul

    Even though box office business is greatest on opening weekend, I think that having the screen count go up the following week will help the movie. I’m betting that people will see this movie more than once, and that word-of-mouth will help. In the long-run, business will not suffer. Now let’s talk about getting this movie a Best Original Screenplay nom.

  • Rich

    Because (and you forget this sometimes), as alleged journalists, you are supposed to report on a phenomenon, not create one. “It’s a conspiracy of taste.” Holy Moley, could you be any more arrogant?!? Is there any entertainment journalist, no matter how lowly a blogger he or she might be, that does not consider himself or herself an arbiter of taste for the whole nation?
    Borat looks funny. So show me the commercials and post a review and then get the heck out of the way. Do your jobs and stop being cheerleaders.

  • Peggy

    Yes, Borat is yesterday’s news. He’s a one-line joke of a fish-out-of-water playing gotcha. Yaaawwwwwwn. Everyone is totally bored with this guy.

  • Guy

    I saw Borat 2 weeks ago and it deserves all of the attention it gets. Since it was a sneak peak it was probably uncut. But it was one of the funniest movies made in the last 20 years.

  • Mike

    Well, I seem to remember a little film called “Snakes on a Plane” that got the same EW treatment that we’ve come to know and despise, and we all know how that turned out.

  • Mozz

    I couldn’t wait to see this movie, but it slowly worked itself down the list of other films. I would have given an arm and a leg to see this movie this summer which was deadly unfun, but now with all the oscar bait coming out, I still gotta see the Queen, the Last King of Scotland, shut and and Sing, and a bunch of others by the way I get around to Borat he’s going to be seen where I think he’ll have the best reception, on my hdtv on dvd.

  • Mozz

    I couldn’t wait to see this movie, but it slowly worked itself down the list of other films. I would have given an arm and a leg to see this movie this summer which was deadly a unfun summer (not counting the laughter at Superman Returns) but now with all the oscar bait coming out, I still gotta see the Queen, the Last King of Scotland, shut up and and Sing, and a bunch of others by the time I get around to Borat he’s going to be seen where I think he’ll have the best reception, on my hdtv on dvd.

  • miles high

    No. No. No. I went to the MySpace screening and it was hilarous. Easily one of the funniest movies Ive ever seen. The fact that it’s only opening on 800 screens is a shame. But I bet by its release date, it will open 1200-1500 screens. A funny film that I hope many get to see.

  • miles high

    No. No. No. I went to the MySpace screening and it was hilarous. Easily one of the funniest movies Ive ever seen. The fact that it’s only opening on 800 screens is a shame. But I bet by its release date, it will open 1200-1500 screens. A funny film that I hope many get to see.

  • Oliver

    All the previews I’ve seen look exactly like clips of his show from HBO. That show had its moments, but it certainly never got this kind of hype and I doubt its ratings came anywhere near The Sopranos. Why is this suddenly a much bigger deal when we have to pay $10 to see it?

  • Ariella

    I saw a sneak peak at Borat about a month ago and it was FRIKIN’ HILARIOUS. It may have been the funniest movie EVER MADE. People in the theater were literally VOMITING WITH HILARITY. I urge you to see it, because it can only be seen to be believed.

  • Ep Sato

    Mike, kudos for calling out SOAP. Borat will do as well as other undergound hits like Office Space.
    I do see Mr. Brown’s argument that some level of white collar snobbery required to enjoy Cohen’s love of making us all look foolish.
    That said, I could care less. Larry the Cable guy doesnt get her done to make me laugh, and while it escapes me who likes Dane Cook, he too speaks to a particular audience. We all have humor that is specifically tailored for us. Borat, like most things in popular culture is ultimately a product invented to make someone money.
    Overhyped as he is, I will be there on opening night, and bet the movie will be Berry Nice.

  • McNutt

    Well put, Scott. The thrill of discovery is so often lost in the 24-news-cycle *hearts* internet culture we live in, replaced by hype and anticipation. Can you imagine what it would have been like had audiences had the chance to dicover, for example, the Blair Witch Project on their own instead of every media outlet hyping it as the scariest film ever? Perhaps people would have enjoyed it on its own terms.

  • Ed

    I think the media will like this one more than the general public. All I’ve seen are snippets and sound bites, still hasn’t caused me to want to run to the theater.
    This is the type of movie that becomes trendy to see; an either you get it or don’t get it type of movie. Everyone who get’s it will have their nose up in the air because they think they’ve discovered something.
    Much like my behavior when I tried to explain Valerie Cherish.

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