Stellar alliteration: Is crass the only cure for culture?

I watched Borat on Friday evening. I had positive hopes for it. I read reviews on how this was the needed direction for comedy in our age, a new level of provocation direly needed in this time of skewed correctness. I read articles about the suing of the filmmakers for deception and fraud. I now understand both sides.

 

It was a poorly done film. Sure, it had its good moments, including everything you saw in the standard trailer. [That’s where a lot of my hopes came from.] What I didn’t expect, which made my opinion negative, was what I found from myself. [Not saying that this, ultimately, wasn’t what the filmmakers were trying to achieve in the first place. Keep reading.]

 

Two key elements kept me from enjoying this film. J mocked me while driving home that I was offended. But really, it wasn’t offense I took from the film, but more so a dismay that there was little to no wit thrown in to actually make this film better. I had hoped that there would be this weaving of wit, a wink to the audience of, “Hey, can you believe these people?” The sort of feeling you get when Leno does Jaywalking and people actually believe that Gore created the internet. There were glimmers of it, but not enough to be substantial in an effort to truly break down the PC. [American Beauty anyone?]

 

The other element is just the fact that I do have boundaries and I believe that others have the right to theirs as well. I watched the film and wanted nothing more but to pull out the people who were inflicted with this parody let them in on it. [Say as in what is suggested was done with Pamela Anderson.] But to watch some of these people be genuinely hurt emotionally for only being who they are? Even if it’s not fun to watch, this is the foundation of our country, they have the right to believe that homosexuality is wrong, that etiquette to their social class means something, etc.

 

It relates to the same reason I choose not to continue on the Saw series beyond the first one. I have no need to watch anything remotely similar to some of the newer gore flicks because I feel that the creation of that sort of popcorn violence isn’t helpful. [Helpful for what? I’m not far along enough to know that. This whole post feels like an incomplete thought.] But to somehow use the sheer representation of simple pain and agony of characters for entertainment? Strikes me as deeply questionable.

 

We can speculate that these are the modern coliseums, sans lions and Christians. That now we fill theaters and watch movies like Borat and Saw. We can argue that this is intrinsic to our nature, but somehow I feel that it is gnawing at the strands of some sort of evolution. This statement seems too convoluted though…More simply, I felt a loss of brain cells and time, both of which I will never get back.

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6 Responses to Stellar alliteration: Is crass the only cure for culture?

  1. eatsbugs says:

    I have to say that I enjoyed the movie in one respect: the sheer gaul of what they said and did. It took a lot of nerve, and that deserves some sort of respect when they could easily be hunted down with pitchforks and torches for this film.

    Other than that, this film was horrible for the mind. It was fodder at its very very very best. And regarding horror, I have seen only the first Saw, and thought it was brilliant, and I loved it. And I would argue with someone for a very long time that The Ring is the best piece of horror/supernatural horror to ever be written to date. This is why I turn to Pseudopod.org for my horror fixes.

  2. E says:

    Well, my thought is that if you have seen one Borat skit you have just about seen them all. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t seen the film yet. However, I disagree that these people should be let in on the joke. Cohen is looking for comedy in people in their raw form; letting them in on the joke would change that fundamentally. He was looking to expose these people’s most ridiculous beliefs and misconceptions. Maybe some of these people need to be made fun of.

    You mention that people have a right to believe these things, which is true, but I think that Cohen is pointing out the utter ridiculousness and irrationality of many of these beliefs. By contrast, something like Saw is simply there to shock people with its crassness, nothing more. I think it’s a fallacy to compare the two as you have. I would say the better connection is that Borat is there to make light of the sort of people that would think that Saw is reasonable and necessary entertainment.

    On another note, part of the Borat experience that people tend to forget is that there is often a big use of physical comedy. Was there any of that that you remember?

  3. firewings says:

    I think you misunderstood me. I don’t think that they should be let on to his joke beforehand, but afterwards, especially as D said, before the bringing out of the torches and pitchforks.

    I don’t see it so much as a fallacy to compare Saw and Borat because there was a sense in Saw that you didn’t find the mastermind in Saw completely reprehensible because the movie highlighted this faux genius element. There was this underlying respect there for something that didn’t particularly need it and something that weak-minded people may not be actually able to distinguish between. In respect to Borat, there was this need to elevate this crass humor to sharp pokes at culture, which in my opinion, it largely failed at. And while Borat may make fun of the weak-minded, he would also aide them along in maybe even suggesting a night of sticking hot pokers in our penises, because, hey, they do that in my country.

    Which no. That’s not comedy. And neither is watching a guy masturbate to Pamela Anderson. [How’s that for physical?]

  4. The Rebuker says:

    Question: How did ‘American Beauty’ undermine political correctness? It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the film and I honestly don’t remember having that reaction to it, but I’m interested where you saw this.
    I haven’t seen ‘Borat’, but perhaps the point in offering no commentary/winks/nods to the audience is to force the audience to do as you’re doing and struggle to understand why you reacted the way you did. To put it in the form of a math problem: A(viewing the film) + B(your initial reaction to the film)/ C(why you reacted the way you did) = D(your own critical commentary on the film). When a movie gives you D, then (generally) you don’t bother with C, and your movie-going experience, while perhaps still enjoyable, is not critically engaged.
    Note to eatsbugs: I think you mean the ‘sheer gall’of what the filmmakers did. For ‘sheer Gaul’ see episodes 1-6 of HBO’s series, ‘Rome’.

  5. firewings says:

    Both E and the Rebuker state that they haven’t seen it, but just as a pre-thought, I really like that there is this need to somewhat “defend” a film and its rights that no one has seen. Perhaps media hype?

    [Bless you both for intelligent comments. Such a happy end result to a less than stimulating movie.]

    While I do sense that there was this underlying push to get Americans to look at themselves when faced with taboos, do I think there was an overwhelming reach for critical engagement on an intellectual level? Not really. But that’s just my opinion.

    As for American Beauty? I haven’t watched it in a while, but I remember being fifteen and thinking this was fabulous. “Look! An ex-Marine homophobe kissing the pothead father! Bah! Suburbia!” Then I looked out into our cute upper-middle class neighboorhood and remembered the crack-smoking girl that lived on the corner. It all struck me as saying suburbia can thrive on the PC bullshit, but you still won’t know the minds of men. Perhaps that people would recognize themselves in the movie. [Does that ramble even make sense? Might have made more sense when I was fifteen.]

    [Why am I essentially writing another post as a comment? Sheesh.]

    And, hee, there was a sheer Gaul! I could see pubes! Oh my!

  6. […] In a Minute Ago shares a stitched photograph. Sortof. You have to see it to know what i mean. In My House posted photos and recipes of her T-Give dinner (i also enjoyed the food-pics from Kitchen Wench). Indescisive Peach posts on why she didn’t enjoy Borat, concluding with, “We can speculate that these are the modern coliseums, sans lions and Christians … We can argue that this is intrinsic to our nature, but somehow I feel that it is gnawing at the strands of some sort of evolution” […]

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