I'm going to skip the original paragraph that introduces Borat: Cultural Learnings etc etc. and its main character, played by Sacha Baron Cohen. You know all this. I'm jumping straight to conspiracy theory.
My response to the film was basic skepticism. I really didn't believe that those interviews were real - and I know that a lot of people are mystified at how he got such results as well - but I mean this as a filmmaker. I simply have trouble believing that it was possible that it's possible to end up with footage that perfect, to have all those pieces cut together so well, to have all of it all come together as breathtakingly easy as it seems to. If you watch any reality TV show - even the extremely controlled and well-funded ones - the footage that they get doesn't compare to the footage in Borat. In this film, they get shots of apparently unrehearsed events from multiple angles, they get that oh-so-necessary close-up on every bit of action that they need to. Their shots always looks clean and crisp no matter what environment they're shooting in, even when they're shooting quick encounters with interviewees who are sure to catch on to the joke sooner rather than later. It's the most unlikely of films of all time.
I've done some research, and it looks like a lot of the people who were interviewed for the movie do exist and are quite angry and insulted about their roles in the movie. They all seem to be real, living, breathing, furious people. This leaves us with three options:
1. The whole thing is real. Every interview and event, including some of the more stunning ones - like the Pamela Anderson spot - were all filmed just as you see them. They were all quietly filmed while people made complete asses of themselves in what is fast becoming one of the most successful comedies of all time. If this is the case, not only is Cohen a genius for his ability to roll with the punches, but his staff of producers are simply the best in the game right now. Head and shoulders above everyone else. Though I suppose, since they came from HBO, that's to be expected. They're also, though, some of the meanest people on the planet.
2. Parts of the film are real - most of the interviews are real, a lot of the reactions are legit - and they faked some of the more tricky situations: the streaking through the hotel ballroom event, possibly the Pentecostal meeting, the bit where the horse keels over just over Borat's shoulder (how did that happen? how is that possible?) and - hopefully - the Pamela Anderson scene. I think this is fair. There are some scenes that are just brilliant if they really are people's real reactions, and there are some scenes that are funny either way. And honestly, I'd just feel bad for Pamela. And that poor, patriotic rider.
3. The whole thing - all of it - is faked. Pretty much everyone is in on the joke. Everyone is acting, this film is a giant hoax. Even the post-film explanations from those tricked in the film, like this somewhat suspicious one (read all the way down to the bottom. As she gets going, she gets funnier and funnier. The bit about the chairs is fantastic) - they're all invented by those in the know.
Y'know what? I think that I truly don't care. If this is all a giant moneymaking game invented by Cohen and those minds at HBO, it doesn't actually matter to me. I got my money's worth out of that movie no matter how it came into existence. Borat is the most categorically offensive, insulting, degrading, and hysterical movie to be released to theatres in years. It goes against everything America believes in.
And if the joke turns out to be on us, well, wasn't that the case anyway?
By the way, if that Pamela Anderson scene is real, the whole rest of the movie can be faked. I don't care. It's worth it just for that one scene.