The Kazakh American Association condemned “Borat 2” shortly after its October release on Amazon Prime Video for subjecting the Kazakh community to “ethnicity-based humiliation,” and now the organization is calling on the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the Directors Guild of America Awards, and the BAFTA Awards to disqualify the sequel from competing (via Variety). The letter is co-signed by the Hollywood Film Academy and Council on American-Islamic Relations, and accuses “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” of promoting “whitewashing, ethnic stereotyping, racism, cultural appropriation, and xenophobia.”
“The Kazakh community worldwide is underrepresented and inherently vulnerable,” the letter reads. “Our nation is still recovering from an oppressive colonial past, which is why we do not have substantial media representation. Sacha Baron Cohen understands this fact and exploits Kazakhstan by hijacking our ethnic identity, whitewashing us by portraying us as Eastern Europeans, and inciting harassment toward Kazakh people worldwide. Our people report countless cases of sexual and physical harassment as well as bullying due to the ‘Borat’ franchise.”
In its original condemnation of the film, the organization took issue with Baron Cohen assuming the identity of a presumed real Kazakh, writing, “In this film, a white person adorns a Kazakh persona and then culturally appropriates and belittles everything we stand for. We, Kazakhs, are a small nation, but it does not mean that we are allowed to be targets for racism. Mr. Cohen [sic] states that his primary target is Trump and racist Americans. If this was the case, he would have created a fake country, as he did in the film ‘The Dictator.’ However, Mr. Cohen [sic] chose to openly bully, humiliate and dehumanize an actual nation.”
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is considered a strong Oscar contender for Amazon. The original film nabbed an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, a category that’s definitely a possibility for the sequel. While Best Picture and Best Actor (Baron Cohen) are also potentially in the cards, most Oscar pundits agree Maria Bakalova’s breakout supporting performance is the film’s best bet at nabbing an Academy Award nomination in one of the top categories.
Baron Cohen reacted to the Kazakh reception of “Borat” in an interview with The New York Times last month. “This is a comedy, and the Kazakhstan in the film has nothing to do with the real country,” the comedian said. “I chose Kazakhstan because it was a place that almost nobody in the U.S. knew anything about, which allowed us to create a wild, comedic, fake world. The real Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a modern, proud society — the opposite of Borat’s version.”
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.