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Kazakh Organization and CAIR-Florida Ask Award Shows to Disqualify ‘Borat’ Sequel

By Natalie Oganesyan, For Variety, On 17 November 2020, Read Original
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The Kazakh American Association is requesting the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards bar Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” from awards consideration for what it deems racist portrayal of Kazakhs. The petition follows a request to cancel the release of the Amazon Prime Video debut of the film Oct. 23.

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The letter, co-signed by the Hollywood Film Academy and Council on American-Islamic Relations, states that the film promotes “whitewashing, ethnic stereotyping, racism, cultural appropriation, and xenophobia.”

“The Kazakh community worldwide is underrepresented and inherently vulnerable,” the letter read. “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 emphasizes that Baron Cohen could have created a fake nation, such as he did with his film “The Dictator,” instead of portraying Kazakhstan. The Kazakh American Association adds that the sequel mocks Kazakh culture and traditions by exploiting them for a Western audience’s enjoyment and portraying them as “misogynistic, incestuous, anti-Semitic, and barbarous.”

In a statement from CAIR, HFA CEO Gia Noortas and CAIR’s Tampa Bay’s regional coordinator Hiba Rahim said that since the 2006 “Borat” film, Kazakhs have been subject to the psychological effects of ethnic-based discrimination, with Kazakh children facing bullying at school and Kazakh women being exposed to sexual harassment. Furthermore, the statement alleges Kazakhstan’s relatively small population was used by Baron Cohen who knew that Kazakhs “lack the political or economic power” to form a large collective to denounce and boycott the film.