Last month, news broke that somehow, despite both everything going on in the world, Sacha Baron Cohen managed to film a sequel to 2006's Borat. With the unsurprisingly wordy Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery Of Prodigious Bribe To American Regime For Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan set to hit Amazon Prime on October 23, the performer is making media rounds again, though not solely to promote the film.
This morning, Time published a lengthy op-ed from Baron Cohen regarding the disastrous effects of antisemitic, racist, and misogynistic conspiracy theories on pluralistic democracies. Before you scoff at Borat penning a heartfelt, thoughtful plea for the soul of a nation, it’s worth remembering that the man behind the “mankini” wrote his undergraduate thesis while at Cambridge University on the American Civil Rights movement. Besides, this isn’t the first time he’s discussed the dangers of misinformation in the age of social media.
“It’s as if we’re in the final days of the Age of Reason—the Enlightenment-induced commitment to evidence, science and objective fact,” Baron Cohen writes. “‘Truth isn’t truth,’ the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said, and facts are ‘in the eye of the beholder.’ We are told, without any sense of Orwellian irony, to deny the very existence of our external reality.”
The performer goes on to break down the many factors he sees as contributing to our current dilemma, noting specifically how the “whirlwind of conspiratorial madness” plaguing the U.S. has been bolstered by Facebook, “the greatest propaganda machine in history.”
Baron Cohen recalls a particularly hairy (pun intended) confrontation he had while undercover at a gun rights rally as the Kazakhstani reporter. “While filming my latest Borat film, I showed up as a right-wing singer at a gun-rights rally in Washington State,” he writes. “When organizers finally stormed the stage, I rushed to a nearby get-away vehicle. An angry crowd blocked our way and started pounding on the vehicle with their fists. Under my overalls, I was wearing a bulletproof vest, but it felt inadequate with some people outside toting semiautomatic weapons. When someone ripped open the door to drag me out, I used my entire body weight to pull the door back shut until our vehicle maneuvered free.”
He continues: “I was fortunate to make it out in one piece. The next few weeks will determine whether America will be so lucky.”
Read the op-ed in full here.
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