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Susan Estrich: Borat! Apocalypto!

Posted on Dec 13, 2006

Of course Judge Joseph Biderman of the Los Angeles Superior Court was right in denying two South Carolina college students’ requests to chop their scenes out of “Borat” simply because they made racist fools of themselves. Even if the students acted like idiots because they were manipulated by movie producers who forced them to get drunk and sign waivers, as they are reportedly alleging, there will be time later to litigate whom the true fools and fooled are.

In the meantime, the students really shouldn’t be so worried about their reputations.

After all, look at Mel Gibson.

He blamed the world’s wars on the Jews and not only won the weekend, but his new movie opened bigger than “Braveheart.” The word is that Disney is launching a campaign to promote him for an Oscar, with the subtext that an anti-Semitic rant isn’t nearly as bad as what Woody Allen or Roman Polanski did.

So what do these kids have to worry about? Compared to Mel?


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The issue in all of these “Borat” lawsuits is the validity of waivers drafted to stand up in precisely these circumstances. The reason most of these plaintiffs are relying on oral representations is because otherwise, based on what they signed, they lose. That’s not a good position to be in, if you know what I mean. Moreover, when you’re trying to quash free speech in advance of a full trial on the merits, which is essentially what the college boys are trying to do, the burden is especially heavy. Demanding that a judge take a scissors to a movie, pretrial, no less, is an extraordinary sort of remedy. It requires, as Judge Biderman properly recognized, a showing both that the party seeking that kind of relief is (very) likely to win on the merits and that money damages would be inadequate to compensate him for the loss. Neither was established here, nor is it easy to see that they could be.

In Gibson’s case, it is becoming astonishingly clear that his anti-Semitic rant may not have cost him or Disney at all, in terms of damages. Nikki Finke reports in Deadline Hollywood Daily that the weekend box-office estimate of $14.2 million far exceeded both the star’s and the studio’s expectations.

Why no price to pay?

Here these poor boys are worried about a racist rant, and Mel Gibson is laughing all the way to the bank.

It’s not what it says about him, but what it says about us that troubles me.

Do we not care how he behaved? Why are we laughing at the “Borat” boys if we’re all headed to “Apocalypto” the next weekend?

Have I been missing Woody Allen movies for all these years for no reason at all?

Was it because it was “mere” anti-Semitism, and America doesn’t really care about that? Would it have made any difference if it were another group, another race, that was insulted? Where is Borat when we need him?

One of the messages of “Borat” is to underscore the prevalence of anti-Semitism, both of the European and American version. The “Running of the Jew” and the “running of the mouth” are both expertly engineered by Sacha Baron Cohen, himself an observant Jew who has stepped out of character with the press to underscore his commitment to addressing issues of anti-Semitism.

After Mel Gibson’s famous rant, the silence in Hollywood among top studio executives—with the notable exception of Sony’s Amy Pascal—was stunning. Why was it so difficult for so many, so many of them Jews themselves, to say anything? Because of personal relationships, or because they accurately predicted future box office? Because that’s all they cared about, even then?

The “Borat” boys are claiming lost job opportunities because of their racist rants.

I almost hope it’s true. In Mel’s case, no such luck. Clearly.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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By Karen Ladik, January 1, 2007 at 9:03 am Link to this comment
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Go Jack. Go Mel.

America is an occupied nation. Writers like Estrich don’t identify their bias.

And Ameicans have been being duped by Jews since their phoney holocaust.

20 million Russians died in that war. A few hundred thousand Jews died of typhus.

And the American public has endured perhaps a thousand hours of holocaust film.

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By grant, December 19, 2006 at 8:17 pm Link to this comment
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gee jack trent… could you maybe try thinking about people as individuals instead of whatever nice little hateful stereotype the drudge report prepares for you?

i guess that would require thinking on your own though… must not have much time for that since you’re too busy pointing fingers. 

and what the fuck is jewry anyways?  i don’t even know.  sounds like something mom might like for hanukah.

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By hymie from hollywood, December 19, 2006 at 7:51 pm Link to this comment
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By jack trent, December 19, 2006 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment
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Jews like Estrich should state their bias. I don’t like that about Jews in journalism—they complain that they are demonized for ‘controling’ the media—but they do.

They dominate media without identifying their intrinsic ethnic bias - against Arabs, Muslims, and anyone who challenges the myth of Israel the ‘democracy’ [anybody read the story on Drudge today about the Canadian woman beaten and punched by Jewish men on a bus in Jerusalem… she refused to move to the back of the bus for the men….

yeah, these guys are eons ahead of Islam…

anyway… always measure the statements of Jews with an eye toward their nepotism and ethnocentrism.

Actually - they wouldn’t get such a bad rap if they just admitted their Jewry and ethnic bias.

But then crypsis [as it is called] is the clue which holds Judaism together

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By Happy New Year, December 19, 2006 at 5:41 am Link to this comment
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Stop Genocide in Darfur…

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, December 16, 2006 at 11:58 am Link to this comment
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I’m not one to go around quoting another great mind—and I’d appreciate it if people didn’t quote me—but I think it was Ben Franklin who said, “If you sleep with dogs, you’re apt to get up with fleas.”  Not that Mel is a dog, mind you. Ben probably knew what he was talking about. How can anyone take seriously anything Hollywood?

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By harry, December 15, 2006 at 9:12 am Link to this comment
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By Mark Robert Gates, December 15, 2006 at 6:12 am Link to this comment
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Somebody, needs to tell Mel Gibson, what I always did when I encountered this apocalypse story, in a church, “You are imagining things!”

This is not imagination:

This administration is using the same failed policies, as in Iran in the 80’s, with the same result.

The result of trying to foist a western ideology on an eastern culture, is always, a religious backlash. Unless, this administration changes its policies, we will see the same result as in Iran in the 80’s, an Ayatohla.

Also, we are fighting this war today, because, Americans, and other misguided countries, would not let Israel proscute, Yasar Arafat, when he was captured. Instead, these people tried to broker a peace, by asking Israel to give land and amnesty to terrorists. When Messir Arafat finally realized, he was not going to be given, what he killed people for, after all, like his Nobel Prize, he returned to being a terrorist.

Did Yasar Arafat have rockets?

These wars are always racist, they are not about religion, and they are not about ideology, they are about extermination of races. We too, are in this war as racists, as our military also carries orders, to kill everyone of the same race. We lost the ideological war in Iraq when we opened, Quantanamo, we, whites, as a race, are not any better than Arabs, Muslims and Hebrews, we maim, rape, kill, murder, prostitute and torture, just the same.

As far as a loving God, is concerned, when asked if they wanted a place in Iraqi government, “Insurgents” said, “No.” And, to their charges said, “Go on killing.” These, “Insurgents” are only interested in killing, and the people living in Iraq, and Afganistan, are screaming to God’s for help, and God’s has said, “So be it: I will now carry out my wrath.”

Copyright 2006, Mark Robert Gates

Please my blogs:

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By Bill, December 14, 2006 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment
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Latest research indicates overindulgence in alcoholic beverages causes otherwise reasonable people to say silly things.

Congress to enact legislation to incarcerate drunks who say silly things.

Halliburton to build one hundred million prison cells to cope with offenders.

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By Alexander, December 14, 2006 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment
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I don’t think the oscar bid by Gibson is so out of the ordinary. I also don’t think the academy has a ‘subtextual agenda’ they are trying to push.

Woody Allen refused to go to the academy awards long before his scandal, and even did eventually appear at the ceremony after 9/11.

Polanski was nominated, but was unable to appear because he would have been arrested upon entering the states.

And finally we all remember Ellia Kazan, but what we don’t remember is that the Academy has a large exhibit at it’s museum in Hollywood commemorating the blacklisted artists. With a screening room, showing “Eyes Without a Face” and other Communist and Anti-communist American films at the time.

I think the lesson from all this is that the Academy really doesn’t care what you do in your personal life. If Mel gets an award, it will be in sync with all the other awards they give out. Completely misguided. Not because he’s an anti-semite, but because he’s talentless.

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