Petition to ban Borat 2 from the Oscars launched by Kazakh-American Association

Sam Warner
·3-min read
Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video
Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video

From Digital Spy

A lobbying campaign to ban Borat Subsequent Moviefilm from major awards consideration has been launched by the Kazakh-American Association, alongside the Hollywood Film Academy and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The recent Sacha Baron Cohen film is accused of "whitewashing, ethnic stereotyping, racism, cultural appropriation, and xenophobia" in a new letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which oversees the Oscars.

The Virginia-based non-profit organisation is dedicated to "preserving and promoting the Kazakh heritage and culture in the US", and has also written to other major awards bodies to encourage the ban ahead of the upcoming awards season.

Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video
Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video

"The Kazakh community worldwide is underrepresented and inherently vulnerable," they wrote in the letter. "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.

"Considering today's socially aware political climate and the new policies adopted by the Academy, it is unbelievable that a racist film which openly berates, bullies, and traumatises a nation of people of colour is an acceptable form of entertainment."

Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video
Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video

They note that Cohen could have created a fake country for the character, going on to slam the "exploitative nature" of the movie.

"Mr Cohen then proceeded to culturally appropriate and mock the Kazakh culture and traditions in the crudest way possible," the letter continues. "Mr Cohen has created a highly stereotypical and extremely offensive fictional character who relies on the Western audience having very little familiarity with Kazakhstan.

"Indeed, his target audience largely took Mr Cohen's racist depiction at face value and considered it an accurate portrayal of our country (aided by Mr Cohen's appropriation of our national symbols)."

Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video
Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video

Related: Borat 2's Maria Bakalova breaks silence over that Rudy Giuliani scene

The coalition calls the portrayal a "harmful misrepresentation", adding that "more Kazakhs today will face public racial abuse, bullying, humiliation, and dehumanisation" as a result.

They also note that many Kazakhs have been subjected to "psychological trauma and ethnic-based abuse and harassment" since 2006's Borat, which went on to be nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

Cohen previously defended his portrayal of the country, telling The New York Times: "This is a comedy, and the Kazakhstan in the film has nothing to do with the real country.

"I chose Kazakhstan because it was a place that almost nobody in the US 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 available to watch now on Amazon Prime Video.

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