Borat is many things, but please make no mistake: he’s not a stoner. Sacha Baron Cohen is suing marijuana company Solar Therapeutics for copyright infringement, false advertising, and misappropriation of his right of publicity after the company put up a billboard in Massachusetts that reads, “It’s Nice! Happy 4/20!” with their logo and an image of Borat giving his signature thumbs up. Suing someone for copyright infringement happens all the time, because people think they can get away with using someone’s image without consent and compensation. But the Borat creator’s response to his character being used specifically for a weed-related billboard is truly wild.
As shared by The Hollywood Reporter, attorney David Condon wrote in the complaint, “The reason why Mr. Baron Cohen never has used cannabis is that he does not believe it is a healthy choice. With his Ali G character, portrayed by Mr. Baron Cohen in the HBO television series Da Ali G Show, Mr. Baron Cohen has spent much of his career making a mockery of stoner culture—a culture which the Defendants’ Billboard overtly celebrates. In addition, Mr. Baron Cohen was born into an Orthodox Jewish family; he is an Observant Jew; and he is proud of his cultural heritage. He does not wish to be involved in the heated controversy among the Orthodox Jewish community about whether cannabis can be used under Jewish traditions, customs, and rules.” Condon also wrote that Baron Cohen “would be appalled if his young children were to discover, mistakenly or otherwise, that he was associated with the promotion of cannabis.” The Borat creator is also looking for compensation for this misuse of his character, seeking “market value compensation, statutory treble damages, and punitive and other damages, estimated to be in a total amount of at least $9 million.”
We get that he’s not happy about his image being used without consent, but who knew the L.A.-based actor was so anti-weed? Are we talking about the same guy who—as Borat—went to a supermarket and asked a grocery store worker if everything in the cheese section was actually cheese, packet by packet. It’s prime stoner content, come on!