December 14, 2005

Kazakhstan versus Borat, round 2.

You remember the dispute between Kazakhstan and Sacha Baron Cohen, the comedian whose character Borat makes Kazakhstan look like an ignorant, racist place. Now, Kazakhstan asserts the power of its domain:
Yesterday, the government-appointed organization that regulates Web sites ending in the .kz domain name for Kazakhstan confirmed that Mr. Cohen's site had been suspended. Nurlan Isin, president of the Association of Kazakh IT Companies, said: "We've done this so he can't badmouth Kazakhstan under the .kz domain name. He can go and do whatever he wants at other domains."

22 comments:

reader_iam said...

"And we're picking up our marbles and taking them all home, too. Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah."

Never a dull moment with the 'stans, as I affectionately call the group of countries ending with those letters. (For professional reasons, I've had call to follow news and issues involving them.)

And yes, the term is supposed to bring to mind the comedy team of Laurel & Hardy.

(Word verification: looowa. Makes me think of a party. In a warm climate, where it doesn't snow--unlike here!)

CCMCornell said...

Now that borat's official page is down, we'll have to use the unofficial one.

I never heard of this guy before coming across the story of the site shutdown. All publicity is good publicity, except for governments.

I guess I did see his other character Ali G in some weird intro to a Madonna video - I guess it was her diplomatic cultural gift from the UK to the US.

Speaking of Madonna and Cohen, there's a quote of Borat from the Europe MTV Music Awards where Cohen hosted in character as Borat:

Following Madonna's performance

"That singer before me. Who was it? It was very courageous of MTV to start the show with a genuine transvestite, he was very convincing. It was only his hands and his testi satchels that gave it away."

Tim Worstall said...

This shows, quite clearly, why it is indeed so important that control is taken away from ICANN and given to the UN. Can’t have any potty mouthed characters making fun of the politicians now can we?

Tristram said...

"He can go and do whatever he wants at other domains."

Well, as long as that option is availble, I really don't see what the fuss is. If it happened in the US, I believe this would be a first amendment issue (unless of course it was related to politics, then McCain-Feingold Amendmen....err...law...trumps the 1st Amendment.)

As pointed out, though, giving any POLITICAL (aka, the UN, the US, etc.) orgnaization control over all domains would seem to be asking for trouble.

At least for the time being, as the US has the most permissive speech laws around, I believe things are about as good as they are going to get (depressing as that may be...)

Ann Althouse said...

Tristan: Are we fussing or are we laughing? Anyway, Kazakhstan's attitude about the ".kz" is like my attitude about the comments section of my blog. It's not censorship to have some standards about your own place, when it's perfectly easy to speak elsewhere. I don't think governments should squelch criticism though, but K-stan has some justification in preventing the phoney use of its doman, since Cohen's not actually there. Nevertheless, they probably don't apply that standard uniformly. It's about viewpoint. So, by U.S. speech standard, K-stan has it wrong.

Simon said...

I didn't think Ali G was funny, and I don't think Borat is funny. I'm not convinced Daisy Donovan's new program is particularly funny, either; I mention this because I'm getting a little board of people saying that she's ripped off Ali G, which is absurd given that Ali G was a guest character on the show that Donovan used to write and present, The Eleven O'Clock Show.

In any instance, regarding domain names, most CCTLDs have (or did until very recently) a residence requirement. You can't buy a .ie domain without a presence in Ireland, and Nominet won't give you a .uk if you don't have a presence there. I think the same goes for .fr, .de and so on. The only major exceptions I can think of are China (.cn) and a few places which have coincidentally desirable CCTLDs, like .tv. So It's not as if Kazakhstan is doing anything others aren't doing, although if I were them, I'd be more concerned about being smeared by association with the ever more dire West Wing (which is becoming harder and harder to take seriously by the episode).

EddieP said...

Someone still watches West Wing?

Pooh said...

"We've done this so he can't badmouth Kazakhstan under the .kz domain name. He can go and do whatever he wants at other domains."

OSM.kz anyone?

Keith said...

Myself and a couple of others will be in Kazakhstan mid-2006 (details here, and you can help with fundraising here). We're thinking of getting some Borat t-shirts printed off.

Not that we think Borat is particularly funny, mind you. We just enjoy insulting other cultures.

Simon said...

"Someone still watches West Wing?"

I will officially cease doing so if Jimmy Smits is still on it next season, and everything about this season screams their intention to find some dramatic way for Santos to mount an inexplicable come-from-behind victory (my prediction: they'll have the election tie in order to prolong the drama/agony into an episode where the House decides the election), despite his complete lack of any likable characteristics, no real policy to speak of, and all-around gormless vacuity. This is a Democrat who's having problems winning Illinois and who has already lost California; the show will have no credibility if he wins, and the show would not be focussing nine-tenths of its screen time on him if they didn't intend for him to win. At the end of last season and the start of this season, it looked for a while as though they might actually be ready to play it down the middle. Sadly, they instead chose to go down a road which leads to less credibility each week.

Maybe it's just me, but while I can understand the obvious appeal of a Democratic president on TV to our friends on the left, I would think that liberals would want an articulate, seemingly sincere, charismatic and likable character to serve as an ambassador to America for their ideals. Smits is not only a truly dreadful actor, but his character projects none of these qualities.

If they have Alda wins, the show wil be re-invigorated, very different, and potentially interesting. I mean, it might still be terrible, but it won't be predestined to be so. Otherwise, it shouldn't be renewed, because it really just can't sustain interest any more. Every single character and plotline that they can use without Alda winning is already played out.

On a related note, some Republicans say that Commander in Chief is paving the way for a woman in the White House. I disagree. I think it's an insidious plot to frighten us off voting for a woman, lest she turn out to operate in the manner portrayed on that show.

Simon said...

"Myself and a couple of others will be in Kazakhstan mid-2006 . . . We're thinking of getting some Borat t-shirts printed off. Not that we think Borat is particularly funny, mind you. We just enjoy insulting other cultures."

I might think twice about that if I were you. Isn't it Kazakhstan where one of the forms of capital punishment used is boiling in oil? I know one of the former Soviet Central Asian Republics has been slated by Amnesty for doing that.

Keith said...

Okay, maybe we'll wear the t-shirts under thick sweaters :)

Pooh said...

Simon, I have a simpler solution per "Wing". The writers don't know how to write dialogue for the character they've created - they're presumably left-leaning and so a principled, pro-choice, atheist Republican is not something they can imagine. (Of course, if they were right leaning, the same might be true. But that's a cheap shot, so forget I said it.)

At least they have Josh and Donna to write for with Santos storylines.

Ultimately though, its not the show's politics, but the writing that has run it off the rails - Sorkin was/is a genius, the current crop are skilled artisans on their best days.

jeff said...

Speaking of Commander in Chief, does anyone else think that Donald Sutherland is having a lot of fun playing the slimy Republican?

reader_iam said...

Hasn't he enjoyed playing slimy characters in general? Don't most actors?

Sigivald said...

Simon: And states that simply wanted to make money off their TLD that they weren't really going to use (like .nu, .bz).

A few places used ".bz" as almost a preliminary ".biz", which is terrible on several levels, but I'm sure the Belize government was happy to take a token amount of money for zero effort on their part.

NYT Junkie said...

I guess Kazakhstan is master of its own domain. That must be why their reply to Borat so reeks of sexual frustration.

(I can't believe no one here has yet made that so-obvious Seinfeld reference.)

Simon said...

"The writers don't know how to write dialogue for the character they've created - they're presumably left-leaning and so a principled, pro-choice, atheist Republican is not something they can imagine."

Well, in fairness, they seem to be having problems writing for a Christian Democrat, too! ;)

The thing is, not even Janeane Garofalo - I don't care that she's the very embodiment of the hysterical liberal, I still think she's very funny and heartstoppingly pretty - who you'd think would be a gift for them to write for is getting good lines. Mostly, she seems to be a mixture of, well, Garofalo herself and the resigned sheriff she played in Copland.

They do have guys who they consult; IIRC, Pat Buchanan is a consultant on the show, among other people. And in fairness, they have occaisionally - oten clumsily, but bless them for trying - tried to see the world through Republican eyes, chiefly through Donna's love interest and latterly through the Speaker of the House. I understand they can't step out of their very much west coast liberal skins, but isn't empathy supposed to be the hallmark of a great writer?


"does anyone else think that Donald Sutherland is having a lot of fun playing the slimy Republican?"

I thought he was playing Robert Byrd! ;) I think that CiC is just so pitifully researched and written that it's pretty difficult to get any kind of enjoyment out of it. And keep in mind - I've had a crush on Geena Davis since I was 14 years old, and I love Donald Sutherland as an actor, and I'm a politics geek, so if anyone has good cause to want to like this show, it's me. But I can't, it's just excreable. No matter how bad the west wing gets, it won't get this bad.

Harkonnendog said...

I watched back to back episodes of Ali G last night and could not stop laughing. Sacha Cohen is a genius.

Last night he sang the throw the Jews down the well song and I cracked up at all the people singing along.

Were they being polite to the ignorant foreigner, were they celebrating non-political-correctness, or were they anti-semites? Some combination? I don't know...

But man it was funny.

miklos rosza said...

Wow, Simon thinks Janeane Garafalo is "heartstoppingly pretty."

I guess it would be sort of interesting to know who else meets these high standards of yours. On second thought, no, sorry I brought it up.

("Everyone in the phonebook" is my guess.)

Al Maviva said...

Ali G is a pretty good schtick. If you don't get it, then you aren't able to see whom is being made fun of. The Borat character doesn't mock .kz at all - it mocks people who don't know anything about the 'stans - or as PJ O'Rourke calls the region, Trashcanistan.

As for Donald Sutherland, enough of the negative vibes, Moriarty. He's a beautiful villain. West Wing though - sheesh. That show is the Terry Schiavo of network TV. Just die already. Your brain died years ago. At least if they are going to keep it on, they should get Aaron Sorkin writing it, maybe with help from Bill Bennett, and an enormous closet full of 'shrooms and chronic.

Simon said...

"I guess it would be sort of interesting to know who else meets these high standards of yours . . . Everyone in the phonebook is my guess."

Surprisingly few people, actually, but Garofalo is one of them. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. *shrug* I decline to listen to her radio schtick, which probably makes it a little easier, and I actually find it quite amusing that she'd probably despise the thought that one of these terrible, evil pro-life Republican people doesn't completely hate her.