Tutar's twisted journey is the film's core narrative
Against all odds, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm may be the feminist film of the year.
Sacha Baron Cohen's film is about many things. One of these things is an aggressive deconstruction of the state of women around the world—or at least in two places: Borat's heavily satirized homeland of Kazakhstan, and the US&A (as he refers to it).
OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM BORAT SAGDIYEV https://t.co/vM92Lam5vV— Borat (@Borat) 1603411942.0
The movie is still about Borat, but its protagonist is arguably his 15-year-old daughter, Tutar, played convincingly by Maria Bakalova. When we first meet Tutar, she is lying on a bed of hay in the backyard of Borat's house. Her fantasies are fueled by horrible Disney-esque films about Melania Trump, who was plucked from obscurity to live in a "golden cage."
From the beginning of the film, Tutar has ambitions. Dreaming of becoming like Melania, Tutar stows herself away and follows her father to America.
Borat is on a journey to garner favor with the Americans, and he decides that Americans love nothing more than beautiful young women. He hatches an ill-conceived plan to present his daughter as a gift to Mike Pence in order to curry favor with Trump. He then sets his daughter up with an Instagram influencer who gives her a makeover, turning her into a blonde Fox News-ready dilettante.
A "Moon Blood" Ritual
Even in the early scenes, Tutar's character is a powerful, self-directed presence. One of the film's more striking scenes occurs when Tutar makes her debut at a Southern debutante ball. She and Borat interrupt rows of tulle and pearls to perform a "traditional fertility dance" in celebration of what is apparently Tutar's first period, which Borat describes as her "moon blood." It ends with the girl spreading her legs to reveal blood-soaked underwear and bloody thighs, scandalizing the guests.
While this might not seem like the pinnacle of feminist entertainment, as a woman who has struggled with—shall we say—unfortunate period-related mishaps throughout her life, I can say that the scene was a deeply satisfying satirization of the shame and stigma that still surrounds menstrual blood to this day.
Too often, menstrual blood is seen as something to be hidden at all costs, and a spot of blood on a ball gown would be the ultimate shame. To see Tutar so proudly celebrating her period (even if it's in an absurdly compromising position) is rather cathartic, a screw-you to expectations about women's bodies and restrictions on female bodily functions on the whole.
The film also takes on abortion...sort of. Early on in the film, Tutar accidentally eats a plastic baby decoration on a cupcake. Concerned, she and her father go to a women's health clinic that turns out to be an anti-abortion crisis center.
Tutar and her father talk to an actual pastor, Jonathan Bright, to whom Borat explains that he is her father and the baby inside her is his fault. "I don't need to hear any more of that," says the pastor. "Really, that is not important right now...It really doesn't matter how we got to this moment...God is the one who creates life, and God doesn't make accidents."
The whole scene is a scathing critique of militant pro-liferism, made even more damning thanks to the fact that the pastor thought it all was real.
Tutar's Awakening Begins: Jeanise Jones Emerges as Hero
After her father's attempt to present her to Mike Pence fails, Tutar agrees to participate in an interview with one of the few Trump affiliates who is not in prison—Rudy Giuliani. Her father thinks that breast implants will help her ingratiate herself with him, so he signs her up for plastic surgery.
Most of Tutar's feminist awakening is thanks to her assigned babysitter, Jeanise Jones, who she stays with while preparing for the surgery. Eventually, with Jones's help, she reconsiders her whole life and decides that she doesn't need breast implants; actually, she doesn't need to go along with her father's wishes at all.
Jeanise Jones may actually be the film's true hero; she is certainly one of the first truly moral people to be featured in a Borat film. The 61-year-old woman apparently got the part by answering a call for a bit part for a "Black Grandmother," which Jones saw at her church. She believed she was taking part in a serious documentary about a man and his daughter, and he advice she gave Tutar was not scripted. This makes even more inspiring, though in some ways it feels tragic that Jones was put in that situation at all.
"I mean, I understand what you're saying, that your daddy told you that, but that's not the real world," Jeanise tells Tutar as she debunks some of the many myths crafted by Tutar's father.
"I don't see anything on your body or on your face that needs to change," Jones tells her. "I want you to be happy, but I wish you would just think about some of the stuff I said. Think about going to school. Use your brain. Because your daddy is a liar, OK?"
Tutar & Jeanise emotional talk - Borat Subsequent Moviefilm Scene www.youtube.com
Afterwards, Jones said that she had no idea what was happening, but she wasn't happy with Cohen. "I could have kicked his butt and given him some choice words," she said. "It was hard not to give him some strong language you can't say on television."
From there, Tutar's awakening gains speed rapidly. She touches herself for the first time—then proceeds to give a speech to a group of conservative women whereby she graphically instructs them exactly how to do the same. Finally, she runs away from her father and strikes out on her own, starting her own journalism career apparently from scratch.
Finally, Borat finds her (after a stint in self-isolation with a couple of QAnon devotees) and tells her that if he fails to somehow ingratiate himself with the US&A government, the Kazakh government will have him killed. Out of loyalty to her father, Tutar agrees to interview Giuliani.
Borat Learns About The 'Dangers Of The Democrats' | Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm | Prime Video www.youtube.com
Happy Ending: Rudy Giuliani Shows His True Colors
Most of us know what happens from there: Giuliani attempts to sleep with the 15-year-old Tutar (fortunately played by a 24-year-old actress) and is seen unbuttoning his pants on a hotel room bed, until Borat bursts out wearing pink lingerie and demanding that Giuliani take him instead.
Borat 2 - Interview with Rudy Giuliani www.youtube.com
After that, Tutar has a (relatively) happy ending. She returns to Kazakhstan with her father, becomes a journalist, and cuts her hair. Her story is about a woman who's completely taken advantage of by the men in her life; but by the end, she's in charge of her own narrative.
Of course, the narrative could be endlessly critiqued. The portrayal of Tutar's home life is certainly offensive, as is her "transformation" to Americanness. Her experience as a conventionally attractive, young white woman in America is certainly unique, and her version of feminism is not exactly intersectional or applicable to those without her advantageous identity. And of course, some of her scenes are downright crude and disturbing. But after all, that's the point of Borat: to show the absurdity of social norms while also revealing how easily ordinary people will go along with them.
Borat is literally a mirror reflection of our society. if you think it’s “gross” or “not funny” — welcome to the point.— pony halloween starwars (@pony halloween starwars) 1603688983.0
Sacha Baron Cohen responds to Trump's comments on #Borat2: "Donald – I appreciate the free publicity for Borat! I a… https://t.co/6Wbehx2AGT— Variety (@Variety) 1603717202.0
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