Borat Subsequent Moviefilm Controversy with Rudy Giuliani

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Ryan Gorneault, Staff Writer

It seems as if English comedian Sacha Baron Cohen never passes up the opportunity to use shock-humor and character-work to critique the way things are working while pranking some of the most powerful figureheads in America. However, he took his pranking ways to a whole new level with his recently released movie, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. In the movie, a sequel to the cult-classic film Borat, the titular character, a Kazakh journalist, vows to get close to members of the Trump administration to redeem his home country whom he made a mockery of in the events of the previous film. The lines blur between fiction and reality throughout the movie when Cohen and Maria Bakalova, who plays journalist Tutar Sagdiyev, infiltrate real-life right-wing circles and rub elbows with the Washington D.C. elite.

The Subsequent Moviefilm features one of Cohen’s most famous, or infamous, pranks, which involves Bakalova as Sagdiyev interviewing Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City and the current lawyer for President Donald Trump. In this scene, which had been leaked before the movie’s release, Sagdiyev and Giuliani enter a hotel room rigged with hidden cameras, following an interview that he believed to be legitimate. At that point, he had no idea that the reporter was an actress, and the publication she claimed to be a part of was fake. After she brought him to the hotel room for drinks, he is seen patting her lower back as she helps him remove his microphone. He then laid down on the bed and put his hands down his pants, prompting Cohen as Borat to bust into the room, claiming that, “She’s 15, she too old for you!”

Giuliani immediately went on the defense following the leak of the scene to call the video “…a complete fabrication. I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment.” but many are not buying his claims that he was completely innocent. He also believed that Cohen had initiated this prank as a “hit job” due to his supposed exposure to the Hunter Biden and Joe Biden controversies surrounding Ukraine.
Cohen and Bakalova recently appeared on Good Morning America to address the scene. While Bakalova said she felt safe filming the scene with Giuliani (thanks to the Borat crew), Cohen’s tone was a lot darker. “If the president’s lawyer found what he did there appropriate behavior then heaven knows what he’s done with other female journalists in hotel rooms.”

Whether people think Giuliani putting his hands down his pants to tuck in his shirt, or something more sinister, his lack of explanation on why he agreed to go back to her hotel room in the first place was questionable. As well as the fact that he patted Bakalova’s lower back. Giuliani still claims his innocence, and it may help his case that the movie’s editing prevents the public from truly knowing the context behind many moments in the scene. However, the context does not necessarily matter to many viewers who still see an abuse of power and inappropriate touching caught on camera. To the surprise of many, he has not called for the release of the full scene unedited, despite the possibility that it could help his case or provide him some sympathy. As for the legal repercussions that could stem from the movie, it is not believed that Giuliani would (or could) sue Cohen. Legal analysts believe that he signed a release form in the wake of the incident that would preclude him from suing or preventing the movie’s release (otherwise, he could have already sued).

Released on Amazon Prime Video on October 23rd, 2020, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is already gaining rave reviews, currently rated Certified Fresh (85%) on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.