Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming mockumentary, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (“Yes, that is its real title!” I gasp, tears of laughter streaming down my face) is already causing controversy.
Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and the former mayor of New York City, is under fire after being caught in what appears to be a compromising situation. He has since launched a staunch denial that he acted inappropriately.
The film contains a scene in which Giuliani is interviewed by an actor posing as an Eastern European right-wing journalist (and Borat’s daughter). After the interview, Giuliani holds the woman’s hand, compliments her appearance and follows her into a hotel room, where he reclines on the bed and puts his hand into his pants. The pair are interrupted when Borat bursts into the room, shouting, “She’s 15, she’s too old for you!” Even Giuliani’s staunchest defenders would have to admit that the optics aren’t great.
But Giuliani has hit back on Twitter, after calling into a New York radio station to defend himself. He tweeted: “The Borat video is a complete fabrication. I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment. At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar.”
Giuliani suggested that the release of the clip had been timed to discredit his recent attempts to expose Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s alleged corruption (the situation is too fiendishly convoluted to fully detail in an article about Borat, but – in brief – Giuliani recently came into possession of Hunter Biden’s hard-drive and is releasing the compromising information it contained, in an effort to discredit Joe).
Rudy G claimed: “This is an effort to blunt my relentless exposure of the criminality and depravity of Joe Biden and his entire family.”
He then vowed to reveal even more damaging details from “the hard drive from hell” and gloated, sassily, that he “has the receipts”. Frankly, this is an unedifying situation all round. It’s hard to conceive of a less gracious response to being the victim of a prank. But, on the other hand, it seems slightly unethical to film someone without their consent in a private room in the first place. Everyone involved in this sorry affair should be ashamed.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm comes out on the 23rd of October and has been getting some decent reviews. Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian gave it three stars and wrote that, while it felt less fresh than its predecessor, “there are still some real laughs and pointed political moments”. Nicholas Barber at the BBC called it “fascinating and urgently political”.
But not everyone was so amused: Devika Girish at The New York Times wrote, “The elaborate ruses left me neither entertained nor enraged, but simply resigned,” while Justin Chang of The LA Times wrote, “With a few exceptions…Borat’s satirical jabs don’t land with quite the same cringe-making force this time; the setups are too convoluted, the anonymous targets too genial, the payoffs too meager.”