A N.Y. Times reporter finds that most Kazakhs are amused by the ludicrous representation of their country by Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat character. But their leaders apparently can’t take a joke.
STANA, Kazakhstan, Sept. 26 There is no Running of the Jews here. No one greets you with the expression “Jagshemash,” which is either nonsense, garbled Polish or mangled Czech; it’s hard to say. The country’s national drink is not made from horse urine, though fermented horse milk, or kumys, is considered a delicacy. (It tastes like effervescent yogurt.)
There is almost nothing, in short, remotely truthful in the satiric depiction of Kazakhstan popularized by Sacha Baron Cohen, the British comedian who plays a bumbling, boorish, anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic Kazakh television reporter named Borat Sagdiyev.
And yet Borat—Mr. Cohen, that is—has managed to infuriate and confound the country’s officials. Their attempts to respond, to set the record straight, have resulted only in more attention here, where Borat’s antics, shown on British and American television and on the Internet, now make the rounds like samizdat from the long-gone days when the country was part of the Soviet Union.