Skip to comments.Hey Borat! Not Everyone's In on the Joke(Frat Brothers Drunk Made Anti-Semitic Remarks, Sue Film)
Posted on 11/21/2006 3:14:09 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
Although Sacha Baron Cohen's new blockbuster comedy, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, has received laughs from its American audiences, not everyone found the movie so funny--especially many of the film's actors. From humiliated University of South Carolina fraternity brothers to destitute citizens of a remote Romanian village, Cohen has made enemies across the globe. In fact, a few of the disgruntled people who appear in his film are now lining up to take legal action against Twentieth Century Fox, the studio releasing Cohen's movie.
At issue is the damage caused to the lives of unwitting participants in the film and even to groups of people stereotyped in the movie. Most of those who appear in Borat are not professional actors reading scripted lines. Rather, many allege they were told they were participating in a documentary and were encouraged to interact with a foreign "journalist." In reality, the journalist was Cohen portraying Borat, a peculiar and antagonistic Central Asian man, unaccustomed to American courtesies and customs. The situations Borat created often led to comedic and sometimes embarrassing results.
Fraternity Brothers Taking a Sober Stance
At one point in the film, three fraternity brothers from the University of South Carolina pick up a hitchhiking Borat. During the sequence, two of the young men, while apparently inebriated, make misogynistic and anti-semitic remarks. Soon after the film's opening, the young men took legal action, seeking to enjoin Cohen and his distributor Twentieth Century Fox from showing the movie.
In their complaint, the two men allege that the movie has caused them emotional distress along with injuring their reputation and standing in the community. Since the release of the film, both individuals have lost their jobs one at a large corporation and the other an internship. According to the men, immediately prior to filming Cohen's film crew took them to a bar and encouraged them to drink. Once heavily intoxicated, the boys were asked to sign a release form.
In other words, the two men allege they did not have the legal capacity to contract. Under contract law, to be legally bound to a contract you sign, you must have the mental capacity to enter into that agreement. Any level of intoxication obviates the signor's clarity of thought and judgment and invalidates the contract.
The two men also allege that the production staff misrepresented the nature of the film and where it would be distributed. Put simply, the young men claim that they were told the "documentary" they were participating in would never air in the U.S. To make a claim of misrepresentation, one would have to demonstrate that they were intentionally told a statement that was blatantly false, with the intent to deceive them. They would also have had to prove that they somehow relied on the false statement and that they had suffered measurable damage as a result.
Thus, their attorneys will have to demonstrate that this statement was actually made, that the young men believed it, that it was false when it was told to them, and that it was said so as to purposefully deceive them into believing it would never air in the U.S. The fraternity brothers and their legal team will have to show that they would not normally behave in this manner, and that their employment termination, caused by their appearance in the film, constitutes a loss of money and income.
Fake Kazakh Journalist Might Face Real Rumanian Lawsuit
Borat's detractors are not only in the U.S. The villagers of Glod, Romania may also sue the movie's producers. Glod was the small village used as a stand-in for Borat's tiny village in Kazakhstan. The leaders of the town allege that the uneducated villagers were induced to perform crass acts unaware of their meaning or that their images would be used for a film. According to a spokesperson, the villagers believed the filmmakers were merely shooting a documentary. In addition, the villagers are alleging that the filmmakers did not pay them adequately for the humiliation they suffered or for the use of their village.
Alternatives To Legal Action
Redress comes in many forms, and some of Baron Cohen's "victims" have sought alternatives to traditional legal action to resolve their concerns.
After unwittingly booking Borat for her live news show, TV News Producer Dharma Arthur left her job at a local Jackson, Mississippi news station. Borat wreaked havoc on air, urgently telling the host and the viewers about his need to urinate and then proceeding to mention other sex acts.
Arthur claims Borat's appearance caused the station to lose faith in her abilities as a producer and forced her out. However, following a bought with depression over her major career mishap, Arthur found vindication and an opportunity to ameliorate the damage to her news career by documenting her negative experience in Newsweek magazine.
Sovereign nations might find it difficult to sue for slander, so the fictitious Borat's factual homeland, Kazakhstan, has taken a public relations approach to combating the negative depiction of their country. Kazakhstan's leaders have spoken out against the character of Borat and his film.
Starting in 2004, the press secretary for the Kazakh embassy launched a campaign to dispel each and every untruth spoken by Borat. In addition, Kazakh press secretary Roman Vassilenko reached out to The New Yorker and the Washington insider's weekly, The Hill in an effort to combat the negative stereotypes potentially created by Cohen's character. In addition, Kazakhstan's deputy foreign minister, Rakhat Aliyev has even gone so far as to extend a public invitation to Cohen to visit the large Central Asian country.
Even if legal action and publicity campaigns do not succeed in stopping Baron Cohen, at least one of his detractors has sent a strong message. After having appeared on Saturday Night Live as Borat, Baron Cohen, still in costume, went to a local bar and play a prank on an unsuspecting New Yorker. According to the report, Baron Cohen asked the man for his clothes so that he could perform a sexual act upon them. The man, un-amused, took great umbrage and attacked Baron Cohen.
There is no word yet if Cohen is seeking a legal remedy.
The article above represents the thoughts and opinions of the author and does not represent in any way the official position of LegalZoom.com Inc.
Can the power of intoxicants and/or the environment cause a 'temporary' change in one's persona?
"....mental states, induced by various physiological, psychological, or pharmacological maneuvers or agents, which can be recognized subjectively by the individual himself (or by an objective observer of the individual) as representing a sufficient deviation, in terms of subjective experience or psychological functioning, from certain general norms as determined by the subjective experience and psychological functioning of that individual during alert, waking consciousness. This sufficient deviation may be represented by a greater preoccupation with internal sensations or mental processes than is usual, by changes in the formal characteristics of thought, and by impairment of reality-testing to various degrees...." -Chuuk-Socio-Cultural Interpretation
CNN Money reports Borat , promoted as a "mockumentary", made $29 million in its' first two weeks internationally.
Lawsuits not going anywhere!!!
With his tradition of always responding in character (as Borat), and never as his real self (as Sacha Baron-Cohen), it might get interesting, but the lawsuits won't proceed.
"Lawsuits not going anywhere!!!"
Based on what?
In my experience, you don't have to get South Carolina fraternity guys that drunk for this sort of thing.
They banned this film in Russia. And the Kazakhs aren't so happy either.
Baaaaaaawaaaaaaa!!!! That is even funnier than the Borat movie.
Based on the fact that Fox's lawyers are much bigger than the frat boys, and that the fratties drank $100 worth of alcohol before voluntarily taking part! :)
What are the chances of Borat finding two sexist, racist and anti-semitic frat boys?
"Urination and other 'sex acts'"...?! Hmmm...didn't know they went for that stuff in Mississippi! ;-)
Wow, was everything in the movie for real except for the two actors? If so, that film was a masterpiece.
Stretch a rubber band too far and it just might come back to snap ya!
Sing it! (Kazakhstan's National Anthem)
Kazakhstan greatest country in the world.
All other countries are run by little girls.
Kazakhstan number one exporter of potassium.
Other countries have inferior potassium.
Kazakhstan home of Tinshein swimming pool.
Its length thirty meter and width six meter.
Filtration system a marvel to behold.
It remove 80 percent of human solid waste.
Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan you very nice place.
From Plains of Tarashek to Norther fence of Jewtown.
Kazakhstan friend of all except Uzbekistan.
They very nosey people with bone in their brain.
Kazakhstan industry best in the world.
We incented toffee and trouser belt.
Kazakhstans prostitutes cleanest in the region.
Except of course Turkmenistans
Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan you very nice place.
From Plains of Tarashek to Norther fence of Jewtown.
Yes, it was real. Borat and companion were the only ones who were acting. That's why it's so funny.
Oh really? I didn't know that....
OK, ignore post #5 everybody
So you wouldn't mind the Girls Gone Wild crew getting your daughter drunk and tricking her into doing stuff? How open minded of you.
And entering into contracts under false pretenses the other parties are under the influence of alcohol is OK with you? Just wondering.
Actually the prostitute is an actress.
I imagine those frat boys are anti-semitic and racist jerks with or without alcohol.
I am not quite sure I see the cause and effect relationship of getting drunk and spouting racist and anti-semitic garbage.
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