The film industry has become very proactive in its warnings to viewers. The words “guns, sex, graphic violence, nudity” and many more warnings are common in the opening titles these days.
We’re not sure, though, how many times (ever?) the word “blackface” has been part of the content warnings, but that’s the word appearing at the beginning of Amazon Studios’ new “Borat” film starring Sacha Baron Cohen.
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” has a scene involving blackface — but it’s Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s photo from an Arabian Nights–themed high school party in 2001.
In the film, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Borat is called to a meeting with the Kazakhstan president. When the president references the “evil” Barack Obama, Borat says, “This led to other Africans becoming political leaders,” and the movie cuts to a photo of Trudeau dressed as Aladdin in brownface.
That 2001 photo was published in 2019 by Time magazine. Trudeau apologized for it, and again when another photo surfaced showing Trudeau in blackface and wearing an afro during a high school talent show.
“I made a mistake when I was younger and I wish I hadn’t,” he said at the time. “I should have known better then, but I didn’t. And I did it. And I am deeply sorry for it.”
As for the movie’s blackface warnings, the Aladdin photo is the lone instance.
The film also gained some promotional attraction when a Rudy Giuliani scene was scrutinized. President Donald Trump’s attorney was fooled by actor Maria Bakalova, whose character in the movie – Borat’s journalist daughter— convinced Giuliani to participate in an interview. On hidden cameras in the bedroom, Giuliani lies on the bed, reaching into his pants.
Giuliani tweeted that he was tucking in his shirt.
Baron Cohen, appearing Friday on “Good Morning America,” said, “It is what it is” and “He did what he did.”
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