The Kazakh American Association says it wants to ban Borat 2 from awards season consideration due to its “racist” portrayals of the country.
The Virginia-based nonprofit organisation have shared an open letter written to the President and the CEO of the Motion Picture Academy (Oscars).
“The Kazakh American community, alongside the worldwide Kazakh community, request that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences publicly bar Borat Subsequent Moviefilm from Oscar consideration due to the film’s promotion of whitewashing, ethnic stereotyping, racism, cultural appropriation, and xenophobia,” the letter begins.
The KAA, whose aim is to “preserve and promote” Kazakh culture in the United States, added: “The Kazakh community worldwide is underrepresented and inherently vulnerable. 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.”
The letter adds: “Mr. Cohen proceeded to culturally appropriate and mock the Kazakh culture and traditions in the crudest way possible. 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).
“Mr. Cohen went beyond any moral or ethical standards in portraying Kazakh people as misogynistic, incestuous, anti-Semitic, and barbarous. Due to this harmful misrepresentation, more Kazakhs today will face public racial abuse, bullying, humiliation, and dehumanisation.”
The organisation have also asked the Golden Globes, Directors Guild of America Awards and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards (BAFTAs) to remove Borat 2 from the list of eligible films. Read the letter in full here.
Addressing the controversy around the new film in a recent interview with The New York Times, Sacha Baron Cohen said:
“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 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.”
In other news, a number of Borat 2 posters have been removed from buses across Paris following criticism from the Muslim community.
The posters, which see Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy character wearing a surgical mask as a mankini and a ring engraved with the word “Allah” in Arabic, were called “provocative” and “lacking respect” for Islam.
Elsewhere, a lawsuit filed against Amazon Prime Video and the creators of the new Borat film by a Holocaust survivor’s estate has been dismissed.
The estate of Judith Dim Evans was protesting the use of an interview recorded between creator Sacha Baron Cohen and Evans, which discussed her experience in the Holocaust, saying that Evans didn’t know she was appearing in a satire.