The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Does Humour Makes Us Hypocrites?
November 21, 2006, 3:11 pm
Filed under: Comment

So the movie sweeping the World is the quite outrageous – and asthma-inducingly funny – Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Unsurprisingly, quite alot of people in the movie are quite angry at him given he blatantly took the piss but they didn’t realise till it was too late.

One group that are particularly upset are a bunch of Eastern Europeans who have found out that Sacha Baron Cohen is earning millions from the flick, while their appearance fee [while admittedly, being pretty good for Eastern Europe] was but a few pounds each.

What I find interesting is that while so many of us get hot under the collar when companies like Gap and Guess utilise ‘slave labour’ … we are all seemingly OK with it when it involves film – especially a film where we all laugh ourselves stupid.

Hell, maybe GUESS should just do some ads that make people laugh – then all there problems will simply go away …

So what does this mean in terms of brands and branding …

Well too be honest, I’m not too sure … but it does seems the ‘values and morals’ that many of us claim to hold dear, can be totally disregarded if it is associated with either blatant entertainment or – in some cases – the ridicule/social-justice of individuals/countries that express a persona that is either arrogant, overly-intellectual or lacking in human decency/empathy. 

In other words, the ‘Robin Hood’ effect … best demonstrated by Virgin and now, Borat.

18 Comments so far
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I think you’re right. It’s that whole “sticking it to the man” thing. Rules and social sensitivities seem to get thrown out of the window whenever somebody steps forward to offer us something we think we want. In Borat’s case, it’s humor.

Good, interesting post.

Comment by Age

And yes, I know ‘slave labour’ represents blatant human exploitation whereas the Eastern Europeans were paid proportionatly well, but I’d argue it is still exploitation because he knowingly destroyed their personal respect and self esteem. Funny though!

Comment by Rob

I think the main thing about Borat is that if you are intelligent enough you figure it out. Any American that starts singing “Throw the Jews down the well so my country can be free” has been given more than enough info to make a judgement.

As you say, unlike Gap etc, at least the wages were good for that country.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I don’t know about that argument, you’re sort of saying the dumb deserve what they get – but you wouldn’t feel that way if Borat was humiliating drug addicts or poorly educated kids (etc) even if they were paid a fair appearance fee. Tough one eh?!

Comment by Rob

Somehow I feel less sorry for the Americans than I do the Eastern Europeans!

I agree its not fair on some people, but do we sacrifice humour for the sake of a few dumb folk? Its never an easy question…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’m a shit because I share your views, especially on Yanks – but what’s interesting is it seems when humour is at the expense of people/countries we have a prejudice against, it’s OK … but when it’s at people we feel are ‘innocent’, we cry EXPLOITATION

Comment by Rob

Maybe thats it. Gap needs to employ americans. Not the average of course, but the flag waving gun toting Americans. That way we wont care that they are paid next to nothing.

Of course I am joking. Or am I?!!

Its true though. I suppose its cute fluffy animal kiler versus ugly innocent animal rules… cute wins every time.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Maybe you’ve worked out why certain Western companies farm out work off shore … because they know the World wouldn’t buy their products if they knew it was physically made by masses of stupid Yanks, ha. It’s the ‘prejudice economy’.

Comment by Rob

Mind you, I wouldnt expect their workmanship to be that good…

Mind you, dont Wal Mart already do that?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Wal Mart … corporate evil dressed up as family value and values

Comment by Rob

Ah Yes. The South Park episode on them was great.

Mind you, isnt that the motto of the Republican party?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Of course you’re right, it’s the prejudice against anything from the Middle East that allowed Bush to go to war, when for us normal folk looking on, it seemed like it was one big joke: like a reality Candid Camera.

Comment by Pete

Except the punch line was on us, and was in no way funny.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Robert, my name is Julian and I work at Amnesty International.

I find your viewpoint really interesting and I was wondering if you’d mind if I passed this on internally?

Thanks so much and keep up the great work. (Trevor Robinson passed your site onto me)

Comment by Julian Glass

Hi Julian – feel free, it’s just a view but a pretty interesting one even though I say it myself, ha!

Please say Hi to Trev for me, he is a wonderful guy even though he got me into tremendous amounts of trouble when we worked together.

I did write a paper years ago about this sort of thing – if you want it [and I can find it] let me know or email me at

Comment by Rob

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