The Panther Knows Best: The Significance of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

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Jack Meyer and Luca Rodriguez

Many Americans have heard of Sacha Baron Cohen, widely known for his portrayal of the character Borat Sagdiyev. Borat, a fictionalized reporter from Kazakhstan, became a pop culture icon after the release of his self-titled film in 2006. While the initial film became a  success, a sequel seemed impossible due to Baron Cohen becoming a worldwide star and the sense of humor used in the movie growing more controversial over time. 

With the first film featuring several instances of humor that would likely be considered inappropriate and offensive today, the first Borat film would probably not survive in today’s climate. Yet somehow, Baron Cohen adapted his sense of humor to fit today’s standards and put together such a well-thought out plot that the sequel not only became a success like its predecessor, but also sent a message about the 2020 election cycle. 

Baron Cohen is widely known for roles similar to Borat, where he goes to great lengths to convince politicians, celebrities and other leaders to agree to interviews with his goofy characters. He normally gets their unscripted reactions and emotions instead of preplanned reactions, which became a key part of what made his movies successful. However, as his fame grew, getting these unscripted and unexpected reactions became more difficult. 

This is where Tutar, Borat’s daughter, comes into play. Actress Maria Bakalova takes on a role very similar to the one Sacha Baron Cohen did 14 years ago. Bakalova was not well- known prior to the film, which helped to keep her from being recognized. With Bakalova becoming the film’s secret weapon, along with Baron Cohen himself using an array of disguises, Borat manages to still keep its signature unscripted style. 

Another reason why the new Borat film manages to keep audiences on its toes is the inclusion of a stronger political overtone. The plot of the first film largely revolved around Borat traveling across the country to find actress Pamela Anderson, and did not focus on politics (although a few politicians were interviewed, but for unrelated reasons). 

However, the Borat sequel takes direct aim at Donald Trump’s administration, with the inclusion of both Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani causing controversy to surround the film before its release. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has received both praise and criticism based on its seemingly targeted sense of humor. 

It appears that Baron Cohen uses the Borat sequel as a precisely-aimed political satire in hopes of getting young people involved in the 2020 election, as evidenced by the message flashed at the end of the film: “Now vote.” Despite the antics that occur throughout the movie, Borat’s message is clear as Nov. 3 inches closer.