British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has stepped out of Borat’s unwashed, gray suit and dropped the misogyny to defend his controversial movie about an anti-Semitic, fictional TV journalist from Kazakhstan.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine released on Wednesday, Baron Cohen, 35, said he was surprised the film had caused such offense in Kazakhstan or that its humor had been so misinterpreted.
“The joke is not on Kazakhstan,” he said. “I think the joke is on people who can believe that the Kazakhstan that I describe can exist -- who believe that there’s a country where homosexuals wear blue hats and the women live in cages and they drink fermented horse urine.”
He said he always had faith in the audience to realize this was a fictitious country and the mere purpose of it was to allow people to bring out their own prejudices.
“I think part of the movie shows the absurdity of holding any form of racial prejudice, whether it’s hatred of African-Americans or of Jews,” said Baron Cohen, a devout Jew who keeps kosher and the Sabbath when he can.
The Rolling Stone interview was the first time Cohen has publicly come out of character since controversy erupted over the movie “Borat!: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” The film has topped the North American box office for the past two weeks.
Borat’s racist and sexist antics have upset Kazakh officials and various unwitting co-stars who appeared in the faux documentary as Borat traveled around the United States in a quest to discover the heart of America.
Two fraternity brothers filed lawsuits in Los Angeles claiming they were fed alcohol before making racist and sexist remarks in the film while a British newspaper reported that the residents of an impoverished Romanian village who appear in ”Borat” may do the same.
Cambridge-educated Baron Cohen said his parents “love” the Jewish humor in Borat and his 91-year-old maternal grandmother even went to a midnight screening in Israel then phoned to compliment him.