Thoughts on Borat & Brüno

(YMS:) The Walking Dead Part 2 review is out now on It’ll be on YouTube within a week, but you can watch it there early. After watching “Bad Grandpa” and feeling extremely underwhelmed, I thought I’d give my thoughts on the two movies that did it right. “Borat” and “Brüno.” Now, if you haven’t watched either of them, I would say, watch them right away. So way back when, Sacha Baron Cohen had a TV show called, “Da Ali G Show.” Which is also pretty fucking hilarious. And Ali G, Borat, and Brüno were all characters that he played on the show. Now, when “Borat” came out in 2006, it was fucking huge! I remember being in school and not even being able to walk down the hallway without someone saying, (YMS imitates Borat’s heavy accent:) “High five! Very nice. How much?” The character was beyond impressionable. Who here remembers all the Borat Halloween costumes? It was a movie that appealed to nearly everybody. Like how racists can enjoy this movie for its racism, but other people who are smarter than that know that the movie is not actually racist, but is making fun of racism, can enjoy it for that. It’s intelligent on a satirical level. But at the same time, you don’t necessarily have to understand the satire and social-political commentary to be able to enjoy this movie. Take away all the intelligent humor and you still have a “Bad Grandpa”-esque film filled with crude humor and funny reactions. But even if that’s all that this movie was, it would still be eons above “Bad Grandpa” because this movie took it to the fucking extreme. In “Bad Grandpa,” all they had to do to get people to sign the release to show their face, was to appear from behind a curtain after the gag and be like: “‘Sup. It’s actually Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine. You guys are in a movie. Sign this thing, right? You wanna be famous, right?” But there is no way that that would fly for a movie like Borat. With the majority of people that had major roles in the film, they got them to sign the release while pretending as if the movie that they were filming was actually a real small documentary and that Borat was a real person. You didn’t always need hidden cameras to film the shot because the cameraman himself was a character. And I, for one, think that’s clever as fuck. Not only was Sasha Baron Cohen so convincing to his victims because he never broke character, but his genius sense of improv allowed him to create hilarious material independent of what was scripted. (Man, has slight accent:) I’m recently retired. (Borat, has heavy accent:) You are retard? (Man:) Uh, yes. And now– (Borat:) Physical or mental? (YMS:) It was that level of quick thinking that helped bring a lot of realism to even the scripted parts. (Borat:) Now I show you outside from mine houses. (cow sneezes loudly and wetly) (Borat:) Tissue. (YMS:) And what I love about the writing is that it wasn’t just: “Here’s a bunch of scripted scenes that we’re going to call the story” and “Here’s all the pranks in-between.” They made an extra effort to make sure that the scripted parts and unscripted parts meshed together perfectly. Like they knew that he needed to find Pamela Anderson on television as the initial incident, but instead of doing just that, they decided that they could prank someone to get to that place. Hell, a lot of the reincorporated jokes are products of unscripted scenes. (Borat, yelling after her:) I am not attracted to you anymore! Not! (YMS:) Not only that, but he doesn’t just go in, pull a prank, and then wait for reactions. He judges people’s character, delivers lines tailored to their personality, and in doing so, he’s able to trick people into revealing the most horrific things they could possibly say on camera. (Older Man:) I ain’t gonna kiss you! (Borat:) Oh, why not? (Older Man:) The people that do the kissin’ over here are the ones that float around like that. (Borat:) Are they all loo loo loo (makes wobbly sounds)? (Older Man:) Yeah, stay away from them that kiss. (Borat:) In my country they uh, they take them and they take them to jail and finish them. (Old Man:) Take them out and hang ’em? (Borat:) Yes. (Old Man:) That’s what we’re trying to get done here. (Borat:) High five! (YMS:) The victims in this film are not merely spectators to serve as funny face reactions, but they are now a source of the humor in the film. The film is able to provide more commentary on social and political issues through improv than most films are able to do in a scripted setting. Like, holy fuck, these people exist and they’re voting. Now, although there’s a huge amount of scenes in this film that are obviously staged, they’re not ones that rely on you to believe that it’s real to be funny. The scripted story scenes, more often than not, led up to the gags in a way that made sense, rather than having the gags and story be so completely separate and irrelevant that they might as well be interchangeable. The film wound up being extremely successful, and nearly everybody that made an appearance tried to sue the film. And then came “Brüno,” which was not as well received. I mean, you can have your preferences about it. I personally enjoy the film even more than “Borat,” but I would say that on a technical level, they’re probably on par. First of all, how much of a testament is it to Sasha Baron Cohen’s character acting abilities that he was able to fool all of these people into thinking that his character was a real person? All within only a couple years of starring in one of the most talked about comedies of 2006. Remember, this is just hair and makeup. He’s not wearing a layered mask and putting on a fatsuit; what sells it is his performance. There’s so many details in his performance that separate this character from Borat: his posture, the way he walks, how his mouth is held open when he’s not talking. Again, he’s able to use himself as a character pretending to film something completely different than what people actually think they’re being filmed in. And just like “Borat” was able to make statements on racism, cultural differences, and stereotypes; “Brüno” is filled with statements as well. But they were statements about homosexual stereotypes’ fame in the fashion industry. Like how much of a statement is it that some guy with a camera is able to trick people into doing embarrassing things just under the premise that’s it’s “in right now?” Do I seriously have to explain the statements they’re making about celebrity media as they judged Jamie Lynn Spear’s baby before birth? (Brüno:) She’s got her arms up like she’s an A-lister. News flash! You’re in a C-lister’s womb, am I right? (Brittny Gastineau:) Worse. I think like, D. (Brüno:) Keep it, or abort it? (Brittny Gastineau:) Abort it. (YMS:) Everything he does on his quest for fame is a statement on society itself. A lot of people like to pass this movie off as stupid and offensive, but it’s actually pretty fucking clever. They don’t just end the joke at: “Haha, we got Paula Abdul to sit on a poorly paid Mexican immigrant”; but they take it a step further in the best possible way. (Brüno:) How important is it for you to help other people? (Paula Abdul:) Helping other people is so vital to my life. Um, it’s like the air that I breathe. And the water that I drink. (YMS:) Is it not a hilarious statement on censorship when he uses a psychic to channel his dead boyfriend? I mean it was a tough scene to get past ratings boards, but he’s technically not doing anything. The only offense you could possibly take from this scene is what you imagine in your own head. Isn’t that fucking crazy? To me, this movie was just as intelligent and satirical, and even more extreme than “Borat.” So it really makes me think of possible reasons as to why it wasn’t as well received. And there’s a few things that I can thing of, right off the top of my head. Firstly, I think it’s no surprise to say that Brüno was not as emulatable of a character as Borat. No one wanted to do impressions. No one wanted to dress up as him for Halloween. There is definitely more of a social stigma when it comes down to wanting to portray a gay character. Comically racist is okay, but something about Brüno makes people uncomfortable. Which gives me even more respect for how fearless Sasha Baron Cohen’s performance was. Next, I think that a lot of people had misconceptions about what was staged and what wasn’t; a lot of people were calling bullshit in places they didn’t have to. The talk show scene was set up, but that doesn’t mean that it was staged. The host was in on it and the child services lady was in on it, but everyone else was legitimately being trolled. Believe it or not, Brüno’s agent was not in on it. Larry Charles and Sasha Baron Cohen explain it all pretty well on the Blu-ray commentary. And I love the level of effort that was taken to set up each scene. In contrast to the people who might not like this movie because Brüno’s gay, there were also a decent amount of people who didn’t like this movie because they thought it gave a negative image to the gay community. But seriously? Especially if you’re not gay yourself anyway, shut the fuck up. Calling this movie homophobic is the equivalent of calling “Borat” racist. Making fun of a stereotype does not equate to making fun of a class of people. By exaggerating the stereotypes, is he not making a statement on how ridiculous they are? Like how fucking stupid do you have to be to be like: “Oh Brüno, the gay stereotype character, is overtly promiscuous and doesn’t know how to take care of children; therefore, this movie is trying to say that all gay people do that.” Really, you’re watching the gay conversion therapy scene and you’re thinking: “This movie makes fun of gay people and not makes fun of people that make fun of gay people?” If you’re seriously going to try and reinforce your own opinions as valid under the guise of: “that’s wrong because it’s offensive to gay people,” is it not offensive to treat all gay people as if we’re too stupid to fucking understand a joke? What’s offensive is the assumption that I would want to censor certain types of media just because it (speaks in a baby voice) “hurt my feelings.” Grow the fuck up. “But about all the people that might not get the jokes, who aren’t gay, that’ll only reinforce the negative image of them in their heads?” Um, yeah, homophobic people are going to continue to be homophobic. What else is new? Like you seriously think that some on-the-fence person is just gonna watch this movie and be like: “You know what? I hate gay people now.” When I think about the people that liked “Borat” but hate “Brüno”, considering all the amazing social-political commentary are still there, it makes me wonder if nobody appreciated that about “Borat” to begin with. Is there seriously that much of the population that only liked “Borat” that much because he said, (speaks in Borat’s accent) “Very nice, how much?!” Like nobody gives a shit about the details that make the movie so great for me, but everyone’s going: “haha, it’s so funny. He’s in a onesie, that’s not attractive.” “Oh Borat, you want to adapt to North American society, but you’re just so different. Tee hee.” Anyway, call me a pretentious faggot, but I loved both movies. And hopefully this provided you some perspective as to why you should appreciate them a bit more. Everybody have a happy Halloweeeeen… (speaks very quickly) Even though I made a video that has nothing to do with Halloween… (Brüno:) Is this the dancing of a talentless idiot?

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. I just found this video. I think people really Did enjoy Borat because of the funny voice, green onesie, and how he “got one over” on the people. Brüno did the same things but a Lot of people were either “Ewww he’s gay!” Or “He’s homophobic!” I want to rewatch them both and see how it is years later. (Also, if you’re a pretentious faggot then sign me up because I guess I am too!!)

  2. DOn't know why this was recommended to me 6 years later but hey I love Sacha Baron Cohen and this vid's great so yeah. Especially, in a youtube where a commentary such as this is much harder to come by thanks to censorship, demonetization, and the like

  3. As a straight guy I loved bruno..I thought it was hysterical but everytime I quoted it or did impressions people claimed I was being offensive to LGBT community.

  4. Bruno was 10 times more brave and important a movie. Both were hilarious but people weren't throwing metal chairs at Borat for kissing a guy.

  5. Bad grandpa wasn’t like like those films cause the time periods. People get more offended over the time and will sue for anything

  6. Adam I am a straight 'murican! And I FUCKING LOVE YOU! I still don't get why you like Tim and Eric's Awesome show though…

  7. I thought both were very funny but I preferred borat because I found Bruno to be overly crass at times and borates jokes landed better for me.

  8. Ive never seen either of these films because all my peers describe them as trashy and weird and knockoffs of jackass but I need to watch them ASAP after this. They seem like they’re genuinely so intelligent and I need to surround myself with them.

  9. Bruno was funny, but it wasn't as clever a satire as Borat. Not everything comes down to 'oh the masses think gay = bad'. Borat was a much funnier movie.

  10. Д is the equivalent of D just if anyone wanted to know what that symbol in borд t is.

    Personally it annoys me like what fuck you mean bordt?

  11. How many times have you got this comment?
    High five! That was very nice! I am a black guy! When do you think man will walk on the sun? Zat is uber-stupid.

  12. I think you’re misjudging why people don’t like Bruno
    People didn’t like it compared to borat because compared to borat the comedy felt very stale and not based off the people as much as it’s predecessor

  13. If you wanna see more amazing improvised public stuff watch the German film 'Er ist Wieder da' ('Look Who's Back'). It's essentially Borat but instead of the main character being Borat he's Hitler reincarnate. It's an amazing social commentary and incredibly hilarious.

  14. Maybe people wont "hate" gay people after Bruno… but we certainly are getting tired of the gay narrative considering the % of the population that is gay. Most people simple dont care and are still bombarded with the topic. But thats not on one piece of art in particular rather on the trend…

  15. i missed out on sasha baron coen entirely. I've never even heard of borat until 2013 and at the time borat was released I was either in preschool or first grade.

  16. hi, i'm from Kazakhstan and i LOVE those movies! the problem is, the people don't want to know about Borat, or Sasha's other movies, because their opinions are based on the crowd's reactions, or probably they just have different tastes

  17. The reason Bruno is worse than borat is bc it’s less funny. Nothing to do with the message, borat is just hilarious.

  18. In borat you could ignore the political message because it was subtle. Brüno it was as flagrant as the character himself

  19. I always knew Borat and Brüno were genius but when you lay it out like this; it's clear I underestimated them.

    But those impressionable, on-the-fence people who decide to adopt a set of opinions based on even five seconds of footage do exist, I don't think it's a ridiculous idea because I've seen it happen multiple times. Usually the same ones that are unable to differentiate fiction and reality or entertainment and factual content.

    Although I agree with the other points.

  20. This is old but I'd just like to say that I think your take on portraying racist/gay stereotypes is flawed. I think people are more worried about the culture surrounding these films. Like, I don't really find it funny when people reference awful things Borat said, because he wasn't being funny. The joke should be that the people he met held those beliefs in awful ways. But when people choose Borat as the funny one, they miss the entire point, and are now just laughing at stereotypes point blank. Same applies to Bruno.

    That's my hot take.

  21. Haven't seen these films, had no clue they were mostly improve. Pretty ingenious. He's seems to be an incredible actor. I never checked them out cuz I was 10 when borat came out and similarly a young teen when Bruno came out. But I was interested in Bruno because I like commentary on gay stereotypes and the fashion industry, at that age I was also watching Ugly Betty a lot so I might check it out some time along with borat if I can sometime, racial caricatures just make me uncomfortable sometimes to the point of not being able to think about what the movies trying to tell me.
    – a newly converted subscriber and pretentious f*ggot.

  22. I truly don't get the hate for Bruno, it's amazing. The talkshow scene and the Mexican chair scene had me cracking up.

  23. Borat was popular because it was advertised well and had everyone's favorite trope, weird foreigners. Bruno was not well marketed or very marketable without wearing the joke thinner (you can't just say "he pranks people" in a trailer)

  24. OK, you got ONE thing right: Cohen used the same formula in both movies. But you missed that they are unwatchable. Poorly produced, the guy is not an actor, he is unfunny but he is convinced otherwise to the point that some morons fall for his mannerisms. And the whole virtue signaling BS? I can't care less about that.

  25. Alot of people diskliked Bruno because it was TOO OVERTLY DEGENERATE and disgusting. It made many people uncomfortable. I loved it for all the reasons you stated and i actually would legislate against homosexuality if i had power. Not because of hate but for the sake of traditional culture, traditional families and to lower the propensity for peadophilia.

  26. wow, im late to the party. I liked both movies but i prefer borat and in all honesty that isnt because bruno is gay. Borat came first so it had the original impact that bruno was never going to have. Also borat was just funnier, if anything it gave far more cringe moments around regular people than bruno did.

  27. I watched borat on airplane on demand then i realise there is this one scene where they run around naked with dick swinging around

    Damn that was awkward

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