Borat

Borat Above the Law Legal Blog Law Gossip Borat.JPGOn Friday night, we saw Borat at our local movie theater. We found it hilarious for the first fifteen minutes, before it turned repetitive. That said, there were some impressive set pieces in the second half of the film, such as the hotel room wrestling match.
(We viewed Borat on the recommendation of one of the Elect, and we spotted another in the theater. Supreme Court clerks: They’re just like us!)
If you’d like to know more about how the film was made, including who was in on the joke and who wasn’t, check out this Guide to Borat, from Salon (via How Appealing). According to Salon, most of the people who interacted with Sacha Baron Cohen in the movie were NOT in on the joke.
Commenting on “Lexytime” — our prior post about Borat, concerning two fraternity brothers who are suing the film’s producers — Tortious Malfoy wrote:

If you had seen the movie you would know why they’re suing: they went on a racial rant about how they wish they could still own slaves, women were nothing, and alot of other hostile stuff. Don’t think they’ll be getting much love in the South anytime soon, especially considering the movie’s reach.

Actually, if Borat’s portrayal of the South is even halfway accurate, we think that the plaintiffs might be embraced by southerners (e.g., the people at the rodeo, the gun store owner, etc.).
Having seen Borat, we actually have the opposite reaction to what Tortious Malfoy predicted: We are LESS sympathetic to the fraternity brothers’ lawsuit against 20th Century Fox and One America Productions. The frat boys are recorded drinking, watching porn, and spewing racist and misogynistic statements. And now they’re upset because, among other things, they thought that the movie would only be screened in Europe? Please.
Furthermore, we agree with this commenter at the WSJ Law Blog. In vino veritas. If the frat boys come across as racist and misogynist, well, maybe there’s a reason for that.
We also note that the frat boys’ lawsuit is counterproductive, due to the Robert Steinbuch effect. By filing a lawsuit, the plaintiffs are only highlighting the actions and statements of theirs that they did not want exposed to public view.
The impoverished Romanian villagers who are now thinking about suing over Borat are far more sympathetic than the frat boys. Regardless of the legal merits of the contemplated action, Cohen and the production companies might as well throw some money in the villagers’ direction, especially in light of Borat’s financial success.
A bunch of poor, exploited Romanian villagers are sure to arouse some public sympathy. Especially this man:

Mr Tudorache, a deeply religious grandfather who lost his arm in an accident, was one of those who feels most humiliated. For one scene, a rubber sex toy in the shape of a fist was attached to the stump of his missing arm – but he had no idea what it was.

Borat was number one again at the box office this past weekend, taking in another $28.3 million. Surely Cohen and Fox can afford to do something nice for the villagers. Like buying Mr. Tudorache a fist dildo made of glass, not rubber.
* The plaintiff frat boys are represented by the very handsome Olivier Taillieu. Here’s an excerpt from his unintentionally amusing bio:

[Olivier clerked] for the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, one of the most prestigious and sought-after clerkships in the country. Following his clerkships, he entered private practice as a litigator in the Intellectual Property and Technology Department in the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, one of the top 15 law firms in the country as ranked by revenue by The American Lawyer.

Now, we are the last people to dispute the prestige of a Ninth Circuit clerkship and a Biglaw gig. But traditionally law firm bios merely list these credentials, without the grandiose description.
(Then again, self-promotion is to be expected from a former contestant on the short-lived, ill-fated reality TV show, The Law Firm.)
Earlier: Prior Above the Law coverage of Borat (scroll down)
Collected Borat coverage [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
Guide to Borat [Salon]
Borat film ‘tricked’ poor village actors [Daily Mail]
Olivier A. Taillieu, Esq., bio [Zuber & Taillieu]

Shakira Above the Law Legal Tabloid Nude Pictures Naked Pictures Nude Pics Shakira Shakira Shakira.JPG* The Democrats are in the House — and Senate, too. Say hello to the new chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. (And goodbye to Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.)
* It was a big week for politics — and celebrity divorces. Parting ways: Britney Spears and Kevin Federline.
* Dewey Ballantine + Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe = Sexytime!!!
* Hit movie Borat + Two dumbass frat boys = Lexytime!!!
* “Shake-It-Like-Shakira” contest + Drunken Jersey girl = More Lexytime!!!
* Rumors of Justice Stevens’s retirement: Greatly exaggerated? Or for real this time around?
* Speaking of the SCOTUS, here’s a fun fact: “It is unlawful to… make a harangue or oration… in the Supreme Court Building.”
* For the record, onetime Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork “doesn’t go seducing women at a convent.”
* News flash: Your friends who went into investment banking make WAY WAY WAY more money than you. (Unless you’re a new Wachtell Lipton partner, in which case they make WAY more money than you.)

Borat Above the Law Legal Blog Law Gossip Borat.JPGA Borat lawsuit has been filed. But the plaintiff isn’t a Turkish “internet celebrity” with a dubious claim that he’s the “real” Borat.
Plaintiffs are two frat boys who appeared in the movie. From TMZ (via Overlawyered):

Two anonymous plaintiffs are suing 20th Century Fox and One America Productions, claiming members of their college fraternity were interviewed to become part of the smash “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” film.

The plaintiffs — listed as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 — were allegedly assured the film would not be shown in the U.S. and their identities would not be revealed.

They were both selected to appear in the movie and, according to the suit, taken “to a drinking establishment ‘to loosen up’ and provided alcoholic beverages.” They claim they signed the movie releases after “heavy drinking.”

Some frat boys were given beers by some movie producers. We have yet to see the problem.

The movie features a scene in a motor home where Cohen gets drunk with three frat boys and the group watches the Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee sex tape while inebriated.

Oh, and they were shown a sex video. Guys, we’re still not seeing the cause of action.

The plaintiffs claim they suffered “humiliation, mental anguish, and emotional and physical distress, loss of reputation, goodwill and standing in the community…” because the movie was indeed released in the U.S.

So Borat showed frat boys getting plastered and watched porn. And this caused them “humiliation” and “mental anguish”?
Perhaps the plaintiffs need to familiarize themselves with how fraternity members are viewed in the popular imagination. See, e.g., Animal House.
Borat Lawsuit — High Five!!! [TMZ.com]
Breaking: Obnoxious Chi Psi frat boys sue Borat [Overlawyered]
Earlier: A Cut of $26.5 Million? “I Liiiike!”

Borat Above the Law Legal Blog Law Gossip Borat.JPGThis “news” broke earlier in the week. But we were distracted by more important developments. Like the Britney Spears-Kevin Federline divorce. And that whole “midterm elections” thing.
Anyway, here it is:

A Turkish Internet celebrity is so convinced he was the inspiration for Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” character, he’s traveling to London seeking an apology and a way to get paid from the film’s surprise success.

Mahir Cagri, 44, became a cyber celebrity after posting a personal Web site in 1999, featuring unintentionally amusing photos of himself playing pingpong or the accordion and sunbathing in a skimpy bathing suit. Fans were captivated by his broken English and hilarious invitation to women: “Who is want to come TURKEY I can invitate … She can stay my home.”

No lawsuit yet from Cagri, but given the financial success of Borat — it earned $26.5 million domestically in its opening weekend — one can’t be far behind. And, of course, look for other purported “Borats” to emerge from the woodwork.
In the interests of judicial economy, let’s make this a Rule 23 class action. The plaintiff class: every horny, buffoonish Near Eastern male, who speaks English with an awful accent.
Very niiiice.
Internet celebrity claims to be the real-life ‘Borat’ [Associated Press]

borat borat borat above_the_law atl sacha_baron_cohen.jpg* I didn’t realize that it has been at least four years since people have been writing for nothing but personal satisfaction. Well, Happy Birthday, Legal Reader! [Legal Reader]
* I haven’t made up my mind regarding voter irrationality, but I know this is why I hate politics (and why those swayed to vote by Rock the Vote are perhaps the only ones who really should stay home tomorrow). [Cato Unbound via Marginal Revolution]
* Who saw Borat this weekend? You’d think that everyone would be in on the joke by now, but apparently not. A human rights group is suing Sacha Baron Cohen himself, and a woman says she got fired because of his antics. Let’s hope this guy doesn’t sue. [USA Today: On Deadline]
* Another day, another political/religious sex scandal offender. Unfortunately, being a hypocrite isn’t illegal, but what slogan would you want to see on his t-shirt anyway? [AP via Herald Tribune]

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