Kazakhstan’s tourism board has finally decided to lean into its numerous mentions in the film Borat by using the character’s catchphrase “very nice”.
For those who are not familiar with the film, Borat is a fictional journalist from Kazakhstan portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen, who the actor uses to expose antisemitism, racism and sexist behaviour in the US.
When the first Borat film came out in 2006, authorities banned it and people were blocked from visiting the film’s website. Officials felt the movie portrayed Kazakhstan as a racist, sexist and primitive country and they even tried to sue Cohen.
But, with the new film having just been released on Amazon Prime, it appears Kazakhstan is starting to see the funny side.
It’s tourism agency – Kazakh Tourism – has pinched Borat’s famous “very nice” catchphrase for a series of new spots to entice more foreign tourists by highlighting the nation’s food, culture and scenery.
“Kazakhstan’s nature is very nice. Its food is very nice. And its people, despite Borat’s jokes to the contrary, are some of the nicest in the world,” Kairat Sadvakassov, deputy chairman of Kazakh Tourism, said.
The idea behind the ads came from an American living in Kazakhstan, Dennis Keen, who combined with a friend, Yermek Utemissov, who helps foreign film companies arrange shoots, the duo then pitched the idea to the tourist board.
Check out the four spots below:
Thus far, the response to the ads has been positive, with many locals agreeing it was better to go with the joke than the bad press that comes from fighting it.
One said via social media: “Well done. Great way to take the publicity created by a comedian and turn it to a positive message.”
Not that all Kazakhs are loving the idea of being roasted in the latest instalment of the film, called Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
The Kazakh American Association has slammed the new film for promoting “racism, cultural appropriation and xenophobia”.
In a letter sent to Amazon, which has distribution rights to the film, a group asked: “Why is our small nation fair game for public ridicule?”
In Kazakhstan, over 100,000 people signed an online petition demanding the new film be banned following the release of the trailer.
“They completely desecrate and humiliate Kazakhstan and the dignity of the Kazakh nation,” the petition said.
Others on social media branded the film as nothing more than a “stupid American comedy”.
You can watch the trailer for the new film below: