The Borat Phenomenon:
Cultural Learnings of the Media for Make Benefit Glorious Jewish Nation
A Panel Proposal for the Association of Jewish Studies 39th Annual Conference
(Toronto, 16-18 December 2007).
Sponsored by the Working Group on Jews, Media and Religion Center for Religion and Media, NYU.
Borat, a film featuring the remarkably politically-incorrect Kazakh TV journalist, has generated a number of controversies–and considerable box office revenues. As Borat journeys through the “U, S and A” in search of “cultural learnings,” his naive anti-Semitism and chauvinism expose America's own prejudices. Borat, personified by the British-Jewish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, knows no boundaries: every sacred cow—race, gender, class, religion— becomes a target of his satire.
This panel asks whether we can see Borat as a Jewish film, akin to Blazing Saddles or The Producers. What are the cinematic and rhetorical devices that the film uses to expose prejudice? How does traditional Jewish humor inform Borat’s satire and parody? How do techniques of “reality television” change or challenge it? What are the language politics of the film, and what is its significance for the audience and critical reception? What are the relationships between Borat and other Cohen’s personas, Da Ali G and Bruno? Finally, given Borat’s representation in film, TV, and on the internet, what is the role of medium in “Borat phenomenon”?
This panel seeks contributions to the critical analysis of “Borat phenomenon,” including media, language, and personalia of the film (and related media), as well as its production and reception. Proposals are welcome for papers addressing larger theoretical and philosophical issues about Jews, media, and popular culture, which use Borat as a specific case study.
Please send a title, a 150-word abstract, a very brief bio-note, and contact information, by Sunday, April 15, 2007 to:
Olga Gershenson, Umass-Amherst, email email@example.com
For more information about the Center for Religion and Media @ NYU, visit their website: http://www.nyu.edu/fas/center/religionandmedia/
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