The Borat Effect


Kazakhastan seems to be having a rough time getting its national anthem to play correctly. A few weeks ago, after a local skiing championship, officials and diplomats stood at attention for the national anthem, only to have Ricky Martin's Living La Vida Loca blare out from the speakers. The video of the event went viral, with most sniggering viewers commenting about how for once, Borat had nothing to do with it. Obviously, they spoke too soon.

This week, after the country won a medal at a shooting championship in Kuwait, medallist Maria Dimitrienko took the podium to a taped rendition of Kazakhastan's national anthem. Only it wasn't the original anthem, but a crude spoof used in the 2008 movie 'Borat' by Sasha Baron Cohen, probably downloaded from the internet by an unwitting employee. The organisers played the whole anthem, which praised the country's potassium reserves, clean prostitutes and presidential gentials. This time, the internet sniggered louder, resulting in hurried apologies and fervent flag-raising.

There are two Kazakhastans that exist today. The real one, a culturally diverse ex-soviet nation with an abundant supply of mineral resources. The other, a nation packed with sexist men in odd underwear, which lives in the minds of the millions who saw the Borat mockumentary. The effect of the movie on the country has been just as conflicting. On one hand, it seems to have destroyed any kind of cultural image the country has created. On the other, it has brought a significant increase in tourism, to the extent that a member of parliament called it "free advertising."

For their part, the government has reacted to the incidents by stating that all national teams will be required to learn the lyrics of the anthem, so they can quickly catch any errors. For my part, I'm hoping that Kazakhastan wins many more events in the near future.


Image: Wikipedia