Silverstein and Sosman over at Harper’s have a little piece about Nazarbayev’s visit to the White House. They wonder if Sacha Baron Cohen’s (of Ali G fame) Khazak chararcter Borat might be better:
Since the 2003 Tulyakev Reforms, Kazakhstan is as civilized as any other country in the world. Women can now travel inside of bus. Homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats. And age of consent has been raised to eight years old. Please, captains of industry, I invite you to come to Kazakhstan, where we have incredible natural resources, hard working labor, and some of the cleanest prostitutes in whole of central Asia.
Cohen’s new movie featuring Borat, Cultural Learning of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, is already gaining lots of press, including an article by the Khazak ambasssador to the UK.
As it happens, I have been (albeit very briefly) to Kazakhstan. While on a trip to Uzbekistan, we stopped briefly in Kazakhstan while driving from Tashkent to Samarkand – the roads, being built during the Stalinist era, pay little attention to the national borders of the Central Asian republics. Also, while I was in Uzbekistan, I met many Tajiks and Kazakhs, as well as Uzbeks. And while the governments of both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are reprehensible, the people are hospitable, friendly and open.
Borat does not represent the actual Kazakh people. But that doesn’t change the fact that his act is really funny.