Date: 17th November 2006

Cohen defends Borat

Sacha Baron Cohen has stepped out of character to answer critics of his Borat character.

The 35-year-old British comic says Borat should not be taken literally but "works as a tool" to expose prejudice and racism.

In the spoof documentary, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the fake reporter utters sexist, racist and anti-Semitic comments as he crosses the US.

Cohen said the target of the film was not Kazakhstan but those who believed such a place could exist.

It's topped the box office on both sides of the Atlantic while attracting both complaints and lawsuits from Borat's unwitting subjects.

Cohen, a devout Jew, told Rolling Stone magazine: "Borat essentially works as a tool. By himself being anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their own prejudice, whether it's anti-Semitism or an acceptance of anti-Semitism."

He added: "The joke is not on Kazakhstan. I think the joke is on people who can believe that the Kazakhstan that I describe can exist - who believe that there's a country where homosexuals wear blue hats and the women live in cages and they drink fermented horse urine and the age of consent has been raised to nine years old."

Cohen also admitted he would find it hard to put himself and others in such embarrassing situations if he were not in character.

But he refused to discuss how he got people to appear on camera or take Borat's preposterous questions seriously.

Revealing his tactics, he said, would be "a disaster, terrible for me".

Source: Press Release