The comedy about a bumbling, racist reporter with a very loose grasp of English, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" premiered for a select group of MySpace members Wednesday night at the AMC Metreon movie theater in San Francisco. The event was part of the popular social networking site's new film screening series known as Black Carpet.
Fans were treated to a surprise appearance by Sacha Baron Cohen, the British actor who plays Borat. Obviously caught off-guard, the crowd leapt to its feet, screaming and snapping camera photos as Borat ran through the aisles, doling out hugs and awkward high-fives to fans so rabid some practically foamed at the mouth. Cohen never broke character during the five minutes of mayhem. It seemed the MySpace Generation was able to check its cynicism at the door, at least for the evening.
It might at first seem easy to stereotype MySpacers, but just a brief glance around at the almost 600 people who packed the theater suggested maybe that's not the case. Though the gathering was 80 percent male and 99.99 percent under 25, diversity was the order of the evening: Nuzzling grunge couples sat next to skateboard-toting highschoolers, who jostled with geeks, glam girls and gangstas. There was even a guy with gray hair (he sat alone). Besides being a kumbaya moment, it was also slickly synergistic, although it's doubtful any of the young fans knew or cared--MySpace.com is owned by media conglomerate News Corp., which is also the parent company of 20th Century Fox, the studio that produced "Borat." Nice going, Rupert.
Like interest in last month's campfest for the premiere of "Snakes on a Plane," much of the buzz surrounding "Borat," based on a character created by Cohen, was fueled by the Internet. MTV's "Jackass: The Movie" sequel was the first film to have a MySpace Black Carpet premier, on Sept. 13.
Though "Snakes" may have disappointed at the box office, and "Jackass" is probably on the same trajectory, it's tough to imagine "Borat" following suit, mostly because nothing about the film is like anything else in theaters today, and the crowd ate it up.
Note: If you've never before encountered Borat, know that you're supposed to be shocked by his humor--he's at once wildly inappropriate and sharply witty, and it's all in the name of breaking down stereotypes. No group is safe: Christians, Jews, Gypsies, handicapped people, women, African-Americans, prostitutes, Southerners, Texans, frat boys, even iPod users fall victim in this movie. (Yeah, Borat throws Apple haters a bone, but keep your eyes peeled for a conspicuous white, widescreen notebook in the final scenes.) In the end, Borat's humor reveals more about America's prejudices than his.
"Borat" will begin its quest to conquer the rest of the "U.S and A" on Nov. 3.