Monday, November 13, 2006
What I know about Kazakhstan!
Well like the millions of others Americans I went to see the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan over the weekend. It has made a ton of money, with another $29 million over this weekend, for a total of $67 million and rolling on strong. I'm sure the studio is happy, Sacha Baron Cohen is happy, and even the nation of Kazakhstan is happy despite being portraited in slightly backwards ways. I think the only people who aren't happy are the unwitting "stars" of the movie, who signed release forms for like $150, or $500 bucks for their scenes and now want a piece of the pie.. ahh the American way, don't you love it???
Before the whole Borat takeover I actually knew a few things about Kazakhstan. It being the 9th largest country in the world, larger than Sudan, slight smaller than Argentina.
In sports at the 2006 Winter Olympics, the USA beat Kazakhstan 4-1 in hockey. This would be a huge victory, in fact our only victory in the tournament and show just how much we sucked. We tied Latvia, and lost to Slovakia, Sweden and Russia. So if not for the glorious nation of Kazakhstan we would not have made it to the quarterfinal round(where we lost to Finland).
Also if you follow the annual march through France, otherwise known as the Tour de France, everyone could cheer for Lance Armstrong back in the day but you had to really enjoy the race to root for Alexandre Vinokourov who is one of the most exciting riders. He would attack at any time, any place, mountains, or whatever and even was a guy who would be with the sprinters at the end of the race to win a flat stage. Probably one of the best overall riders of the tour, he didnt compete in the 2006 Tour as his team had 5 of its riders eliminated in the pre-race doping scandal. He was never accused of doping, but at such a late date, it was impossible to enter the race with a 3 person team. He will be 34 in 2007 if he rides the tour, and sadly in the endurance sport of cycling that might be a bit too old to win the whole thing. Still he has had a great sporting career, and possibly the most accomplished athlete in the history of the country, having won an Olympic Silver medal in 2000.
While I was in Europe this past summer, I met a girl from Kazakhstan and let me tell you they look alot different than in the movie. Considering Kazakhstan's location the people are a mix of the Chinese Asian look and Russian. It seemed like the people shown in the movie were poor gypsies from a tiny village. I am not sure if any of the movie was filmed actually in Kazakhstan, I did see in the credits something about a Romanian unit.
I was in Bratislava after the World Cup Final game and talking to the few French fans I saw and she was in that group. Knowing the Borat movie was about to come out, I had to trade currency with her and managed to get myself a 200 Tenge bill(worth about $1.50). It will be a nice collectible until/if/I ever visit the glorious country of Kazakhstan itself.
The movie was funny for sure, in fact there was one particular scene where I was crying, tears literally rolling down my face. Yet was it the funniest movie ever? No.. Was the script stupid... Yes.. Is Cohan a genius at this form of comedy? Yes.. Should you go see it? Probably Yes if your not easily offended.. Remember people the actor doing the jokes about Jews is actually Jewish himself. The same way black comedians can make fun of blacks.. but if they talk about jews or whites its TROUBLE. Cohan can make fun of the jews. In fact from some stats i've seen on the web, I dont even think there are many jewish people in Kazakhstan. I've seen the religion break-down as follows: Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%.
Alright next post for sure, how the USA can regain a world-wide sporting presence.