Danny Taggart's Blogarama

A more-or-less daily dose of news, politics, techmology, and any random thoughts that pass through my head.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

"The big nose people make a lot of trouble"

Borat does this bit where he's talking to a random person and starts describing aspects of a stereotypical Jew. He gestures a big nose, mentions "they hev a lot of money", and waits to see if the person correctly identifies who he's talking about. Usually, the mark gets it right.

Now, does this demonstrate the bigotry of the person and/or Americans in general, as is implied by the satirical nature of the interview? I don't think so. It simply demonstrates that the person is aware of the stereotype, not necessarily that he agrees with it. Most Americans tend to be accommodating in an awkward or uncomfortable situation, especially with foreigners. It is an unfortunate fact that anti-Semitism is widespread in the Islamic world, so it is not unreasonable to expect that a Kazakhstani reporter may hold a stereotypical view of Jews. Most people don't want to get into a moralizing lecture with a foreigner about proper manners, so they just play along.

In general, I don't think it's legitimate to say that since people don't call out Borat for being a fake, they assume all foreigners are like him. Logically speaking, this only demonstrates that they believe it is possible for a foreigner (or anyone, for that matter), to behave like a jackass. That being said, Borat has uncovered legitimate bigotry in some of his bits, including "Throw the Jew Down the Well" and "Hunting the Jew". In those bits, the people actively participated in his bigotry and in some cases pushed it even further.