Monday, March 5, 2007

As promised...

Let the ranting begin.

At left, you can see a picture of Borat (AKA Sascha Baron Cohen, whom many of you know as King Julian from Madagascar), a supposed Kazakhstan, filming a documentary about America for his country.

From what I have heard, the movie pokes fun at every group. Which is one of the many arguments I heard during my encounter with those who like the movie. That I shouldn't take it so personally because the movie makes fun of everyone. Perhaps I should begin at the beginning.

About four months ago, I saw an article on EC discussing this Borat character and as I read the comments in the article, I saw many Pentecostals condemning him to hell for sacrilege. They said that he had insulted Pentecostals by exploiting our way of worship and that they found it highly offensive. About two months ago, I saw another article (this is an ongoing debate) with the video clip attached. I watched it to see what all the fuss was about.

My jaw dropped open. I could not believe the things that this man was doing. I will not put the clip up, but here's the best I can describe it. Borat wakes up on a doorstep in front of a church, walks in, and is welcomed by a man in the church. Throughout this 5 or so minute clip, it shows Pentecostals dancing, leaping, shouting, and all those other things that we "crazy" Pentecostals do to worship God. The man next to Borat is speaking in tongues and praising God, and Borat is trying to imitate the man. The clip shows bits and pieces of the sermon, but the thing that made me want to go and hurt this guy was the altar call scene. Borat was led to the altar by this man, and prayed for. The minister gave him the microphone after a moment, and Borat explained that he was in this country to do a documentary for his country. He asked if God loves everyone and if he could help him with all of his problems. The minister assured him that he could and then they began to once again pray for Borat. Borat then begins to fake speaking in tongues.

Before I spout off my amateur rantings about the shock I was in over this scene, allow me to quote Malcolm Gladwell, reporter for the New Yorker-

"I thought the scene in Borat, similarly, where Sascha-Cohen attends a Pentecostal service, goes up for the altar call, and then mocks the religious esctasy of the other worshippers, was as deeply offensive as any movie scene I have witnessed in some time. Since when is it okay to invade someone's house of worship, and make fun of their most sacred religious rituals? But that is what comedy consists of right now..."

My beef is two-fold-branching. This means that I will begin with two issues, and several more branch out.


Not so much with the movie, but on EC we have all of these Pentecostals saying things like "I went to go see this movie and that one scene was so offensive, I walked out" Ex-squeeze me? Let's take a look at the rating label for Borat:

R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language.

Uh-huh. And you walked out because it was insulting? Am I missing something here? As a Pentecostal, why were you even there to begin with?



The subject of the movie in general. Man oh man, where to begin?

I think that Mr.Gladwell's article mirrors my feelings exactly. I think that Cohen needs to learn where the line is and stay far away from it, rather than marching over it like the Third Reich.

Not only did this guy insult the beliefs of my organization, he did it dishonestly. Which... sounds really wierd, but go with me here.

The guy approached the church (which was the Mississippi Campmeeting, FYI) and told them that he was filming a documentary. He did not tell them who he was or what he was planning to do with the footage he collected that evening.He exploited those poor people without their knowledge.

And people eat it up.

Which brings me to my own story.

I was sitting in fifth period Spanish III, where we talk about everything but Spanish, a guy we will call Niles (I'm in a Frasier kind of mood at the moment. David Hyde Pierce is actually playing on the iPod at the moment.) was talking about Borat-

"And did you see the crazy scene with those church people? That was insane huh?"

[classmates nod and hoot in agreement]

"Those people were insane, huh? Oh my gosh, how can anyone actually act like that?"

I raised my hand, and La SeƱora, who was trying deperately to restore order to her chaotic classroom.

"Niles," I said, "I know exactly how people can act like that. I am one of those people. You think it's crazy because you don't understand. That is how we worship God."

Niles along with the rest of the class became silent. Then Niles burst into laughs.


"No. My family has some friends there, though, and they may have been in that service. I don't know."

[more laughing here]


So, this is the lows that society has dropped to. We have now reached the low of making fun of peoples religion and beliefs.

Good job, America. Aren't we proud of ourselves?

1 comment:

JAM said...

I had never heard of that scene in the Borat movie. I don't like that type of humor anyway, and wouldn't see the movie.

The young guys in your Spanish III class are pretty typical. I started going to charismatic/pentecostal churches when I was 19, having grown up Baptist. I wish I had a dollar for every time I tried to explain my newly expanded beliefs to shocked family members.

The only thing I can say good about that type of situation in my life, is that it always caused me to dig farther into the Bible, to be able to calmly and with scripture references, show what I believe and why I believe it. It has changed very few minds, at least at the time, but I knew that they had "heard the Word" and the rest was up to God to open their eyes of understanding.

I've always been pretty good about taking jokes and being laughed at for any reason, so that's a big help to me too.

Hang in there. I agree about the movie. That's over the line, but America is over the line in so many ways now.