Anorak News | Mind Your Language

Mind Your Language

by | 19th, November 2005

‘THE CIA’s World Fact Book describes Kazakhstan thus: “Current issues include: developing a cohesive national identity; expanding the development of the country’s vast energy resources and exporting them to world markets.”

But there is one other pressing issue affecting life in the land that “extends from the Volga to the Altai Mountains and from the plains in western Siberia to oases and desert in Central Asia”.

The largest of the former Soviet republics in territory, excluding Russia, has a problem: Borat Sagdiyev.

Borat is the creation of Sacha Baron Cohen, the man who gave the world the Ali G TV character.

And it seems that not only is Borat not all that funny over here, but he’s going down in Kazakhstan as well as Bernard Manning at the Race Relations Board’s annual charity fundraiser.

The government of the landlocked county (border countries: China 1,533 km, Kyrgyzstan 1,051 km, Russia 6,846 km, Turkmenistan 379 km, Uzbekistan 2,203 km) is thinking of suing Cohen for portraying the locals as incestuous drunks who drink horse urine and pass the time gypsy catching and goat punching.

And it may be worse. As Yerzhan Ashykbayev, a spokesman for the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, says: “We do not rule out that Mr Cohen is serving someone’s political order designed to present Kazakhstan and its people in a derogatory way.”

Crikey! Could Borat really be in the employ of some shadowy group keen to do the country down, a place “slightly less than four times the size of Texas”?

It is possible. And while the Kazakhstan Republican Guard investigates, we urge you to go to the place and see what it’s like first hand.

Borat might be nothing like a real Kazakhstani. He might just be a comic invention. Was Taxi’s Latka Gravas an everyday Eastern European? Was Perfect Strangers’ Balki Bartokomous just like every other sheepherder from the small Greek-like island of Mypos? Was any character on the anachronistic Mind Your Language based on anything other than a Little Englander’s fantasy?

So go to see things for yourself. Head to Kahzakhstan, where “radioactive or toxic chemical sites associated with former defense [sic] industries and test ranges scattered throughout the country pose health risks for humans and animals”.

And don’t forget to pack your boxing gloves in case you meet any goats, and to take along your brother or sister…’

Posted: 19th, November 2005 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink