Atlantic reader Bert Clere remembers one of the edgiest comedians of the early aughts:
When reading “The Coddling of the American Mind” and “That’s Not Funny!,” I kept thinking back to Borat and my experience at a small liberal arts college in NC, beginning in 2004. Like many undergrads at the time, my friends and I used to watch Borat segments from The Ali G Show and quote them regularly. When the Borat movie came out in 2006 it was an event; the only comedy film in my lifetime that had a genuine blockbuster aura. Almost everyone I knew went to see it.
We told ourselves, as did most of the media, that the appeal of Borat was the way in which he “showed up” the rotten underbelly of Bush’s Red State America. But looking back, I think this misrepresented some of Borat’s core appeal.