Sacha Baron Cohen returned to screens as the infamous Borat Sagdiyev in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Fourteen years ago, Cohen exposed and enraged film participants in his mockumentary Borat when he posed as a popular news reporter from Kazakhstan who wanted to learn about the American people. Unbeknownst to the participants, Cohen duped them all into some very uncomfortable reality checks when the film dropped on November 2, 2006 and grossed two hundred and sixty-two million USD worldwide. Now he’s returned in satirical fashion with co-star Maria Bakalova to punk the Nation yet again.
Bakalova posed as Borat’s daughter in the sequel, filmed during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic with the politically charged mission statement to get out and vote. The film was released just two weeks before election day and did not attempt to conceal its political stance. Cohen and Bakalova attended a “freedom rally” of anti-maskers and encouraged them to sing along to some outrageous lyrics, ambushed a Republican conference where Vice President Pence spoke on the coronavirus, and even conducted an interview involving Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer, that raised attention. The creators of the Amazon Studios acquired sequel were sued before its official release date of October 23, 2020.
Cohen’s legal team proved itself air-tight in the past and experts expect no less this time around. At least seven of the angry participants featured in Borat sued, each of their complaints eventually being dismissed. Before filming, plaintiffs were all asked to sign waivers containing a merger clause which noted, among other things, that “the Participant acknowledges that in entering into [the Agreement], the Participant is not relying upon any promises or statements made by anyone about the nature of the Film or the identity of any other Participants or persons involved in the Film.” Waivers could not be avoided with fraudulent inducement claims because the defense of fraud in the inducement is foreclosed to a party who disclaims, in the contract itself, reliance on fraudulent statements allegedly made to induce him to enter into the contract. See Danann Realty Corp. v. Harris, 5 N.Y.2d 217, 323, 184 N.Y.S.2d 599, 601 (1959).
Cohen and Bakalova’s performance, while at times crude, raises politically relevant topics in a shocking manner. Many of the scenes highlight the importance of distinguishing fact from fabrication and remind viewers that social media influence should not be the end of one’s research for reliable resources of political campaigns and platforms.