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The Most Pause-Worthy Moments In Borat History

When it comes to satirical characters in pop culture, one of the most popular is Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazakhstani journalist: Borat. The character of Borat Sagdiyev was created by Baron Cohen in the late '90s, and appeared on skits on British television shows like "F2F," "Comedy Nation," and "The 11 O'clock Show". It wasn't until his appearance on Baron Cohen's own "Da Ali G Show" that Borat, as everyone knows him, was born. Since then, the character has made it to the big screen with 2006's "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" and 2020's "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm."

Borat has a fictional origin as a man born in Kazakhstan who becomes a journalist and gets tasked by the Kazakh Ministry of Information to make a documentary about life in America. This premise spirals out of control as Borat gets caught up in wacky situations thanks to the culture shock of America, his own prejudices, and his obsession with finding Pamela Anderson. Baron Cohen is now known for pushing boundaries with his commitment to playing absurd characters and letting them loose on unsuspecting people.

Much of what Borat says is incredibly offensive, but Baron Cohen does this on purpose to record people's reactions. Borat constantly spews sexist, racist, antisemitic, homophobic, and otherwise atrocious things, all to reflect those awful beliefs back on the people he's messing with. When discussing his style of comedy with Rolling Stone, he said, "Probably it existed, and other people had done it, but we'd never discovered it before — this idea of taking a comic character into a real situation." Read on to discover the most pause-worthy moments in Borat history.

Kazakh National Anthem

One of the most iconic moments in the first "Borat" movie is probably already burned into your mind for how perfectly it captured American culture at the time it was made. In this scene, Borat somehow manages to get a real rodeo to agree to him singing the national anthem before a show. For context, the movie was made during the height of the War in Iraq, and President George W. Bush was a very controversial figure in political discourse. Since this scene took place at a rodeo in Virginia, it should come as no surprise that Borat's audience was definitely right-leaning.

This moment is incredible for a number of reasons. Borat is wearing an over-the-top, American flag-colored cowboy outfit while he praises the "war of terror" that the United States is waging in Iraq, all to the cheers of a patriotic audience. But Sacha Baron Cohen pushed things a bit too far when he started singing a made-up Kazakhstani national anthem to the tune of the Star-Spangled Banner, thus enraging the crowd. It got so tense and dangerous for Baron Cohen that he was escorted out of the venue for his own safety. It really is an incredible moment that shows just how far Baron Cohen is willing to go. He puts himself in serious, real-life danger in order to provoke the responses he wants from real people, regardless of what happens to him.

Shopping for cages

In the second movie, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," Sacha Baron Cohen tries harder to comment directly on contemporary social and political issues in the United States following the 2016 election. Baron Cohen spends a lot of time putting Borat in situations that comment on the rise in discrimination and racism in American culture that is hard to ignore, concepts which he tested out ahead of time in his 2018 show called "Who Is America?"

One interaction that stands out in the sequel is when Borat and his daughter Tutar, played by Maria Bakalova, go shopping for a cage that she must live in. The intention of the filmmakers for that scene was likely to comment on the ongoing discrimination against immigrants at the time when they kept people in cages. In the scene, the store owner doesn't seem to mind that Borat is intending to keep his daughter in the cage they're about to buy. At one point in the sales process, Borat brings up the fact that Donald Trump is putting immigrants in cages at the United States border and, as a result, he and the salesman high-five over it. Their interaction is exactly why this scene is so memorable and important to the message of "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm."

Meeting his wife

Borat is a culturally relevant character, and many of the lines from the first movie have entered the greater cultural lexicon as a result. People have been quoting Borat for years, but out of all Borat's iconic lines, his introduction of "my wife" is definitely the most popular. The usage of the line even grew to have an ironic meaning as a meme in recent years.

The scene being referenced is extremely funny in itself, as it is the moment Borat is introducing his village to the audience by showing off his neighbor, sister, mother, and wife. It is one of the funnier moments in the first movie because of how silly Borat's voice is and how ridiculously he describes his wife, Oksana. In the movie, she yells at Borat and threatens him with violence for how bad of a husband he is. This is following a scene where Borat makes out with his sister, so it's really no surprise why Oksana is so upset. 

In real life, Sacha Baron Cohen's wife is fellow actor, Isla Fisher ("Now You See Me"). The two have a seemingly wonderful and supportive relationship that has been outside of the public sphere since their marriage in 2002. In an interview with People, he said, "I went and made two movies in the last 12 months: 'Chicago Seven' and 'Borat 2'. And these aren't normal shoot days; you're calling up sometimes at the end of the day and just saying, 'I was lucky to make it out in one piece today,' so you need a very, very understanding wife. And I'm very lucky to have it."

Learning to drive

Yet another hilarious scene in "Borat" is the moment that Borat learns how to drive. Learning to drive is an essential part of American life, and has become a rite of passage for many youths taking their first steps toward independence. It was a perfect choice by Sacha Baron Cohen to put Borat in this situation, where he completely fails to comprehend the nuances of driving while still adding humor and pushing people's buttons in the process.

By pairing Borat up with a stern driving instructor, Michael Psenicska, the two immediately have an awkward interaction after Borat kisses him twice on the cheek. Psenicka says, "well I'm not used to that, but that's fine." The dynamic between the uncomfortable but well-meaning instructor and the offensiveness of Borat makes this one of the most laugh-out-loud scenes in the movie. Once their conversation devolves into discussing consent and women's rights, the scene completely goes off the rails as he explains to Borat, "In this country, a woman has a right to choose who she has sex with." The driving instructor is different from most people Borat messes with because he tries his hardest to push against the horrible things the character is saying, instead guiding him toward doing the right thing. 

Chaos at CPAC

A highlight of "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" is, without a doubt, the risky prank pulled during former Vice President Mike Pence's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The CPAC has become known in the political world as an essential part of the Republican party. It happens each year, gathering together right-wing thinkers, politicians, leaders, and entertainers to lay out their agenda. Sacha Baron Cohen has never hidden his left-wing sensibilities, so his desire to cause chaos at CPAC shouldn't come as a surprise to fans.

In the context of the movie, Borat desperately wants to give away his daughter as a gift to President Donald Trump at the behest of the president of Kazakhstan, who respects Trump's approach to governance and wants to be a part of the club. Since Borat cannot approach the sitting U.S. president, he settles for giving away his daughter to Pence instead at that year's CPAC. Borat dresses up as Donald Trump and infiltrates the event, but he causes an insane amount of trouble when he starts yelling at Pence onstage. Baron Cohen is openly not a fan of Trump, as he expressed on Twitter, so dressing up as him through his Borat character uses several layers of irony to criticize the Republican party.

Meeting with feminists

One thing that's important to understand about the character of Borat is that he's intentionally supposed to be a clueless, tasteless, and offensive caricature of a genuinely terrible person. He's not only saying awful things to people, but he's a representation of what Westerners (especially Americans) imagine foreign individuals to be like. That's exactly why it is so effective when Borat is set loose upon unsuspecting individuals who take him seriously and accept the stereotype he portrays at face value.

A particularly upsetting moment is in the first "Borat" film. He is invited to join a meeting of prominent feminists in New York City, and he debates the merits of women's rights by laughing at even the notion of equality. Unsurprisingly, the intelligent women he's talking to get frustrated with Borat's inability to understand their philosophy, and they cut the segment short. According to Veteran Feminists of America, one of the feminists, named Linda Stein, went on to make art about her encounter with Borat and how it made her feel.

Seeing a tortoise

One of the most truly absurd moments in the "Borat" franchise is when Borat spends some time with an exotic wildlife dealer and, because of how bizarre he is, does not recognize what a tortoise is. Not all movies have to have a deeper meaning to be funny, like "Don't Look Up" or similar satirical stories with a complex message. "Borat" does have that, but it also has moments like this, with just general silliness intended only to be funny in a dumb way.

In the scene, Borat is out in the woods with two Munch Ranch exotic animal dealers. They are observing a very large tortoise eating vegetables in the woods while Borat struggles to understand what kind of animal he is seeing. He says, "what type of dog is this?" which has gone on to become yet another viral meme in recent years, thanks to Sacha Baron Cohen's perfect delivery and the silliness of the moment. The straightforward way the other men reply to Borat by explaining it's just a tortoise in a shell never fails to make fans of the film laugh. Some fans have even started making merchandise with the joke.

Everything with Pamela Anderson

The running joke at the heart of the story in "Borat" is his obsession with "Baywatch" actress Pamela Anderson. After seeing her on television, Borat falls deeply in love with her. Throughout his hijinks, he continues to bring up his desire to find her. Even during the feminist meeting scene, he mentions a mysterious woman named C.J. he has seen (which is her character's name on "Baywatch"). Finally, this plotline ends with a failed kidnapping attempt by Borat, who tries to put a "traditional marriage sack" over her head.

While this may sound horrifying, it turns out that Pamela Anderson was in on the joke all along. According to Deadline, Sacha Baron Cohen made sure to get Anderson's approval ahead of time because otherwise, he said, "it would be kidnapping." But, there were definitely some unintended consequences of being part of "Borat" for Anderson. She explained that her then-husband, Kid Rock, ended up divorcing her over the entire thing. But with her recently coming back into the spotlight with Hulu's "Pam and Tommy" series, it seems like Anderson will continue to have a place in popular culture for the time being.

Fertility dance

Borat's relationship with his daughter, Tutar, is the heart and soul of "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” with a surprising amount of character growth for the Kazakhstani legend. While he is constantly putting his loving daughter in troubling situations, Borat and Tutar grow closer with each absurd encounter. When Borat brings Tutar to a Southern debutante ball in disguise, he goes in with the intention of presenting her as a proper young lady. As you can imagine, this doesn't sit well with the other guests.

What unfolds is a standout moment in the film, where Borat and Tutar, under the fake names Sandra Jessica Parker Drummond and Professor Phillip Drummond III, do a traditional Kazakh fertility dance for all to see. The dance involves showing a room full of stuffy Southern aristocrats Tutar's blood-stained clothing (from her "moon blood"). This mockery of high society in the South is genuinely hilarious, and the dance itself is surprisingly well-choreographed and executed by the two stars. Maria Bakalova stands out in particular during this scene (and throughout the whole movie) as an incredibly talented performer who steals every scene she is in.

Subway antics

As far as pure man-on-the-street comedy goes, it's hard to beat the subway sequence in the first "Borat" film. His encounter with the denizens of New York City is simply hilarious, regardless of the context of who Borat is or where he is from. It is similar to the types of comedy that have come since then, with comedians like Eric Andre and the "Jackass" crew, who love messing with random people by being as obnoxiously weird as possible in public. 

Sacha Baron Cohen seems to enjoy putting himself in cringeworthy situations while playing his characters, so his actions on the subway in this scene make perfect sense. Borat begins by attempting to kiss several innocent bystanders taking public transit as a way of introducing himself. This goes poorly, of course, since New Yorkers are famous for keeping to themselves. As if that wasn't enough, Borat accidentally lets loose a live chicken within the crowded subway car to cause the maximum amount of chaos. That's New York for you.

Interview with Rudy Giuliani

Continuing the theme of how impressive newcomer Maria Bakalova is, the "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" scene that got the most press attention after release was centered around her interactions with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In keeping with Sacha Baron Cohen's desire to mess with Republican political figures, he came up with the insane idea to disguise Borat's daughter as a conservative journalist who attempts to seduce Giuliani on camera.

In the context of the story, this is actually a low point for Borat and Tutar. Borat has had a change of heart about his daughter after having realized he actually does love her, while Tutar has proceeded with the seduction plan in order to win his approval. What unfolds is a shockingly disturbing scene where Giuliani seems to accept the seduction attempt, despite the fact that he knows Tutar is underage. This was a seemingly genuine act on Giuliani's part, as he had no idea he was in a "Borat" film, and his unacceptable behavior became the center of the news cycle for some time.