November 14, 2006

"These people are poor and they were tricked by people more intelligent than us."

More news of the quickly expanding legal field we call Borat law.

EXPLETIVE ADDED: Oh, my Glod!

41 comments:

Derve said...

*musing*
I wonder what that Canadian comic Tom Green is up to these days. Didn't he even marry Drew Barrymore in his heyday...

Borat: This Too Shall Pass.

Freeman Hunt said...

I thought that the villagers were extras when I saw the film. Their push for a lawsuit annoys me.

Hamsun56 said...

If Cohen had any class he'd donate money to the village for something that would directly benefit their lives - perhaps a school or health clinic.

Freeman Hunt said...

Why would Cohen be expected to donate anything to these people? They were paid for their work.

Also, according to the earlier article about them, none of them have even seen the film themselves. In that case, how embarassed or hurt can they possibly be?

It appears to me that they've heard the film made lots of money, and they'd like to take some of that money for themselves.

PatCA said...

Well, good point, Freeman.

I do think it's interesting, though, that satire used to be directed at those whom we all considered guilty, or deserving of it, like politicians or public figures. Now this new MTV-type satire aims at the innocent, all to make the audience squirm. It's very po-mo, but I don't like it.

Paddy O. said...

"Why would Cohen be expected to donate anything to these people?"

Oh, he wouldn't be expected to. There's no law for it. There's nothing to say he needs to do that. The folks in that village shouldn't expect anything, don't deserve anything, and have no right to complain.

I think the comment was if he had any class he would anyhow. Having class means going above and beyond mere expectation, because it's a noble and helpful thing to do. Having class means that he would show himself to be more than a buffoon ultimately as sad and laughable as the people he mocks.

Of course no one expects him to donate anything. Cohen hasn't any class.

Hamsun56 said...

"Why would Cohen be expected to donate anything to these people? They were paid for their work."

For a Hollywood movie they were paid ridiculously under scale. Also, it seems he mislead them about the nature of the film. How would you feel if you got a token fee for appearing in what you were told was to be a low budget documentary but turned out to be a successful Hollywood film? It would not be unreasonable for you to take legal action. I know I would.

Sure, these people would have probably taken whatever they could have gotten even if they knew it was a big budget Hollywood film, but that is no reason to take advantage of them.

Part of what Cohen is doing is making fun of their poverty and ignorance. A classy act would be to give something back to them that would improve the conditions that he is mocking.

HaloJonesFan said...

This situation is hilarious. Here's this guy who acts like a tremendous asshole and then claims that hey, it's okay because it's satire, and if you don't get it then you're just stupid. He makes a bunch of random people look like complete idiots, and when they get upset they're the bad guys.

Wickedpinto said...

Sports athletes, coaches CEO's, CFO's Ad Representatives and even Movie Stars have negotiated a contract for payment after the fact based on a misrepresentation in their contracts (they don't always win, but sometimes they do)

I feel no sympathy for athletes, but I do feel sympathy for one of the poorest places on the planet. The only reason Glod has a higher standard of living than other portions of the world is because they aren't dead.

Glod is filled with a small group of isolated people who are unfamiliar with they world, they are in fact children, engaging in a complicated contract that even if they read it, they couldn't understand, so they were easily mislead into a bad decision based on false pretenses.

I don't think Glod should get first dollar options on the film, but they deserve more than 3 dollars.

Man Woman, why you always gotta be offer'n tree dollars?! (southpark joke)

Freeman Hunt said...

For a Hollywood movie they were paid ridiculously under scale.

Since when do extras on location in a foreign country get scale?

He makes a bunch of random people look like complete idiots, and when they get upset they're the bad guys.

Have you seen the movie? He doesn't make them look like idiots. In the movie, they appear to be in on the joke. They come off as comedic extras who did a great job.

Hamsun56 said...

Freeman:
Fair enough, extras overseas are not paid scale. I've only seen the trailers and clips on the Internet, but it appears that some of the villagers have parts that are more than just standard extras. He also filmed in their homes and Hollywood pays generously for that.

You still haven't answered the issue of misrepresentation and how you would react if you were told that you were to be in a low budget documentary that later turned out to be a Hollywood blockbuster.

I'm actually a fan of Cohen and will probably see the movie, but I still think he lacks class.

Steve Donohue said...

Freeman is right about that- in the movie, the Glod portions don't come off the same way that the non-scripted American portions do. The villagers seem to understand what is going on, and none of their jokes were based on their unscripted reactions.

Paddy O. said...

Have you seen the movie? He doesn't make them look like idiots. In the movie, they appear to be in on the joke. They come off as comedic extras who did a great job.

All the more reason for him to do right by them. Had the movie been a bomb, then everyone at least had a laugh. Because the movie is so successful, it is the right thing to reach out to those who helped make it a success.

When we go into a nice restaurant we aren't forced to tip a waiter. We do it out of expression of good service and proper etiquette. I doubt you'd justify a person leaving a $1 tip for a $600 meal, even if leaving that pittance is allowable by law. The waiter is already being paid a salary after all.

Tipping is a courtesy, not a matter of law. Those who tip well are courteous people. Those who don't are boorish and pitiable.

Cohen is getting a $60 million meal, and leaving three bucks for the service. That's well within his rights, to be sure, but we should all feel quite right in mocking him for it.

He's funny and he's a boor. We'll keep throwing money into his hat as long as he does his silly dance and makes those crazy faces. Hopefully, when his time in the spotlight has ended that money will be satisfying for him, satisfying enough to ward off the bad karma.

Regarding international scale, I'd be curious to know what Gibson paid his extras for Apocalypto.

Freeman Hunt said...

You still haven't answered the issue of misrepresentation and how you would react if you were told that you were to be in a low budget documentary that later turned out to be a Hollywood blockbuster.

That hasn't been established as true. I find that claim highly suspect because, as Steve just noted, none of the humor in the village is based in unscripted reactions. All of it is scripted.

He also filmed in their homes and Hollywood pays generously for that.

This is not always the case. Especially outside of Hollywood and New York and doubly especially outside of the US. Bottom line: They were offered a payment that they agreed to. As explained above, they'll have to prove that they were tricked into thinking that the film was a documentary. How can people believe that they are in a documentary when they're being told what to say, what to do, how to act, where to stand, given lines, etc?

Hamsun56 said...

Freeman:
True, we don't know if there actually was a misrepresentation about the film being a documentary. But Cohen and 20th Century Fox have yet to deny it.

Your point about scripted lines/scenes weakening the claim that the villagers believe this to be a documentary would be stronger if we were dealing with a more sophisticated group. Can it be expected that the villagers in Glod understand all the rules of documentary making. And, is it not that uncommon for documentaries to stage or reacreate scenes?

What is most likely is that they thought they were involved in a low budget film rather than a Hollywood feature film - that in itself is a misrepresentation. I don't know what Hollywood pays in third world countries for extras and for filming in private homes, but my guess is that is substantially more than $3-5 a day.

Wickedpinto said...

A cow crapped in one of the "extra's" houses.

Cohen is making at least thousands, if not 10s of thousands of dollars based on the laughs he got from having his film LITERALY (in this case it applies) CRAP on the house of at least one "extra."

He could throw a few hundred their way, rather three dollars.

Wickedpinto said...

In the US, doesn't matter, outside of LA, outside of NY, movies either pay more, or they recognize the particular place, and give it payment in kind through acknowledgement.

the borat movie purchased a set, a group of extras, crapped on the set, and payed 3.30 to 3.50.

Theres a difference between that and making an audio recording at "goldblats" in my hometown for the making of "A Christmas Story"

Freeman Hunt said...

Another note on being an extra: Sometimes you don't get paid at all. My husband was an extra on a similarly budgeted Hollywood film shot in the US. (He did it for fun because he admires the director.) The extras weren't paid anything. Their only payment was that they were allowed to keep the t-shirts that were part of their costume.

The article gives no indication as to the what the featured extras were paid in Borat.

I don't know what Hollywood pays in third world countries for extras and for filming in private homes, but my guess is that is substantially more than $3-5 a day.

I think you'd often be wrong.

Freeman Hunt said...

And, is it not that uncommon for documentaries to stage or reacreate scenes?

Yes, it would be extremely uncommon in a documentary, for example, to be directed to pretend that Cohen is your husband and to chase him around griping him out.

I think people are being extremely naive about this. Just because the villagers are poor doesn't mean that they're honest. I think they're running a pretty obvious con with this lawsuit.

knoxgirl said...

"They took one of our 75-year-old ladies, put huge silicone breasts on her and said she was 47. Another man they filmed to look like the poorest person in the world, and one of our men who is missing an arm had a plastic sex toy taped to his stump."

Yeah, I call bullshit that these people naively thought they were going to be the subject of a sympathetic documentary. They are obviously sophisticated enough to get themselves legal reprentation (sigh) and go after that $$$.

Al Maviva said...

Hmmm... let me see. A Jew posing as a pseudo-Russian anti-semite tricks Gypsies, who then hire a shyster to sue the trickster...

Maybe I'm missing something here, but this seems to be some meta narrative-type joke. In other words, yes, this is pretty damn funny, even if he didn't script it to come out this way. Cohen may be a mean spirited bastard, but have you looked at our culture? Few of us have any business throwing stones at him.

TW: ubyzaewa - the name of an African tribe next in line to sue Cohen, this time for *not* featuring them in his recent film...

Coco said...

Theres a difference between that and making an audio recording at "goldblats" in my hometown for the making of "A Christmas Story"

Wickedpinto - are you from Hammond, Indiana? I'm a Gary boy myself.

knoxgirl said...

Where's the latest podcast, anyway?

I was led to believe that they'd be weekly...

LAWSUIT!

Fatmouse said...

You know, I laughed like crazy when I first saw the movie, but Cohen is looking more and more like the creepy pricks who made those Bumfights movies.

The Dread Pirate No-Beard said...

"They made us put a cow in our living room, and they made it defecate and urinate in the house. Everyone's angry because they didn't pay them the way they should have," [Irina] said.

Exactly how should the Glodites have been paid? What is the going rate for having a cow defecate and urinate in your living room? I'd need about $10,000 for that, though I was planning on tearing out the carpet and putting in wood floors anyways.

I don't think any basic human rights were violated, and actors don't have a say in how the resulting footage is used. Did the guy with the sex toy taped on his stump ask what his motivation was?

If the villagers were smart they'd make some lemonade and turn the village into a tourist destination. Appropriate the Borat name and likeness by building a Borat theme park. That'd force the producers to decide whether or not they want to pursue legal action against a bunch of Gypsies. That alone could be the plot for a horror-comedy. “Hostel II: The Wrath of Glod”

As for the frat boys, they might have a case if they can prove they were intoxicated when they signed the contract.

The Dread Pirate No-Beard

Revenant said...

I think the comment was if he had any class he would anyhow. Having class means going above and beyond mere expectation, because it's a noble and helpful thing to do.

So, how much are you donating to the people of Glod?

Oh... nothing? So much for "class".

Fatmouse said...

So, how much are you donating to the people of Glod?

Oh... nothing? So much for "class".


WOW, that would be a totally astute and devastating accusation of hypocrisy... if he had made money off the villagers or had anything at all to do with them.

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

People People People,

Let's take note and give thanks for the best part of this whole story. People from around the world are pissed off at somebody other than America!

Welcome to the realm of the reviled Mr. Cohen, population you + 300 million.

MadisonMan said...

The best part of the story is the quote Ann pulled: "...tricked by people more intelligent than us.".

Ouch.

Michael Farris said...

freeman hunt,

According to all reports Cohen and company weren't honest with anyone they filmed in the US*, what makes you think they would be honest with the good people of Glod?


*Pamela Anderson and an actress playing a prostitute excepted

If Cohen had any class he'd treat them right, not in the way he's legally entitled to, but right.

Full disclosure:
I haven't and don't plan on seeing the movie though I've seen Borat in action before.

And, while I'm here, what is the difference between Ali G, Borat and Bruno? All three are slight variations of the same joke:
Someone with a funny accent and garbled grammar acts boorish to people who aren't in on the joke and the audience is invited to laugh at their discomfort. As sophistication goes this is a step below shooting rats at the dump.

Wickedpinto said...

Coco?

My Father, KNEW "RANDY" who was one of the meanest mofaku's on the planet, also he was a drug dealer.

My Uncle, was one of randy's best friends.

And I was born within walking distance of what is NOW the "Gene Shephard memmorial center"

Yes, I'm am not only from hammond, I'm a HesseVillain.

Wickedpinto said...

I learned how to throw out a runner at "lost park" which is the baseball park built on the "old" Harding School, even though it was just across the street from the "new" harding school.

Another bit of random "A Christmas Story" trivia that apply's to me by contact?

A VERY good friend of mines mother was GIVEN the VERY "guDONG!" elevator bell from Goldblats, when it was torn down 14 years ago. His mother HATED! that whenever I walked by the bell, I would ring it.

JorgXMcKie said...

"And, is it not that uncommon for documentaries to stage or reacreate scenes?"

Not, at least, when Michael Moore is making them.

Freeman Hunt said...

According to all reports Cohen and company weren't honest with anyone they filmed in the US*, what makes you think they would be honest with the good people of Glod?

Did you read all of the previous comments? No one is relying on Cohen's word to assert that the people of Glod knew what was going on. If you'd seen the movie, you'd know that they weren't being pranked like US participants. Their parts in the film are scripted.

Revenant said...

"Oh... nothing? So much for "class"."

WOW, that would be a totally astute and devastating accusation of hypocrisy... if he had made money off the villagers or had anything at all to do with them.

Given that Paddy said that "having class means going above and beyond mere expectation, because it's a noble and helpful thing to do", the fact that he made no money off of the inhabitants of Glod is irrelevant. If he had class, he'd help them anyway.

Cohen gave these people jobs for a day. That's more than any of you have done, so you probably ought to shut up about how horrible he is.

Coco said...

"I learned how to throw out a runner at "lost park" which is the baseball park built on the "old" Harding School, even though it was just across the street from the "new" harding school."

Right by Gibson Woods! Suh-weet

Paddy O. said...

Given that Paddy said that "having class means going above and beyond mere expectation, because it's a noble and helpful thing to do", the fact that he made no money off of the inhabitants of Glod is irrelevant. If he had class, he'd help them anyway.

Having class is about going above and beyond in a particular context. So, it's not really about whether I donate money to them, it's about whether I treat those who work for me, or help me, or are around me with respect above and beyond what is merely expected. I am definitely a very good tipper, and like to think I treat people above and beyond what they deserve. Though, as I didn't recently release a #1 movie I doubt my efforts would ever be newsworthy.

Yes, the villagers did get paid for a day, and that's more than I do. But, to me this is a lot more like hiring a prostitute at this point. Yeah, the prostitute needs the money and yeah a guy gives her a few dollars for her services, which is more money than I give to prostitutes.

Still, being a john is not really classy.

Yes, they are likely trying to scam the scammer, which is hilarious in its own way. I'd love for them to win $20 million dollars off of it, and see the tape of Cohen writing the check. That's be good clean fun for the whole family. He scams people for the reaction, and so I don't see why his being scammed by folks who may or may not be authentically outraged is any different.

Revenant said...

Having class is about going above and beyond in a particular context.

How convenient for you that being "classy" to poor people is something you never have to worry about so long as you avoid coming into contact with them in the first place.

Yeah, the prostitute needs the money and yeah a guy gives her a few dollars for her services, which is more money than I give to prostitutes. Still, being a john is not really classy.

But apparently it would be, if you paid the prostitute enough money. After all, your complaint wasn't that Cohen paid the people to act in his movie, but that he didn't pay them enough.

And pretty much everybody "needs the money" they get for what they do; that's why they call it "work", not "happy fun time".

I'd love for them to win $20 million dollars off of it, and see the tape of Cohen writing the check.

Because people who aren't "classy" enough for you deserve to get fucked out of their money. Now that's class.

Cedarford said...

Hmmm... let me see. A Jew posing as a pseudo-Russian anti-semite tricks Gypsies, who then hire a shyster to sue the trickster...

Maybe I'm missing something here, but this seems to be some meta narrative-type joke.


Yeah, pretty much.....but it seems another underlying message is "look at how much smarter I am than lesser dolts"! Cohen thrives on his ability to exploit the trust of others to manipulate, scam, degrade them for his profit.

Part of the fun of those "wealthy and smart" who staged bumfights or had homeless people going downhill and crashing into obstacles was to enjoy their manifest power and ability to create such events. It was as much "Look at us getting people to make fools out of themselves for a pittance of our personal wealth!" - as it was to watch the poor paid to be jesters. "Yeah, look at the bums hurting themselves but admire the people with the cunning and savvy to use their unfortunate condition for our profit and amusement".

Many cultures create norms where it is highly discouraged for those with wealth or brains to disrupt the social harmony by manipulating, mocking, ripping off those that extend trust to a stranger.

Because obviously people don't like to be conned, swindled, made to look like fools by having their trust or hospitality taken advantage of.

Cohen just got a good pounding on a NYC street. Punched out by a man he decided to walk up to and mock while in his "Borat" character. Even in NYC, where a significant reservoir of sympathy exists for audacious scammers and con artists, Cohen received little if any sympathy.

Real life vs. Hollywood.

Freeman Hunt said...

Yeah, pretty much.....but it seems another underlying message is "look at how much smarter I am than lesser dolts"!

Is that the underlying message? That's not what I get out of Cohen's brand of comedy.

The Borat character provides comedy by himself, but also a framework for humorous unscripted reactions. Most people in the Borat movie come off as exceptionally polite and long-suffering, not stupid. (Take, for example, the woman in the movie who takes it upon herself to try to teach Borat American restroom etiquette. Talk about above and beyond the call.) The few people who come off badly do so because they say or reveal something hateful, but they are in the minority.

Al Maviva said...

Cedarford, I'm not sure I agree with your analysis. Cohen doesn't seem to be saying "I'm smart, you're stupid," I think he's saying "We're all pretty stupid." This is a dreadfully mean-spirited and conservative sort of satire.

Fortunately for me, I'm a dreadfully mean-spirited conservative, so I find him quite funny, although at times I sort of wish that he'd never come along to pierce our comfortable veil of social hypocrisy. Fact is, hypocrisy is the lubricant that makes day-to-day interactions with our fellow humans possible. Get rid of that, and everybody is pretty much un-live-able. It's kind of like Ayn Rand's anti-heroes who get rid of all unselfish impulses. Cute political idea, but you wouldn't want to be their neighbor... come to think of it the people who think hypocrisy is the highest crime there is aren't very appealing to me either.