Monday, January 22, 2007

Borat & the British Class System

The following quotation, from this article , in today's Times of London interviewing Sacha Baran Cohen on the success of his "Borat" persona, is very revealing; not only of the continued existence of, but also some of the different defining characteristics between, the three social classes in Britain, as we have touched upon them in lecture. (The supporting comment on America is pertinent, on the MacNeil thesis that southern American landowners are -- as their Elizabethan accent reveals -- vestigal British aristocracy who emigrated to the American colonies.)

One of the most intriguing questions about Baron Cohen’s characters is: why do so many people fall for the act? Partly he relies on good manners and politeness: “Ali G and Borat worked very well in England with the upper class because they were so polite. They would keep this person in their room. Members of the working class might have thrown him out; members of the middle class might not have revealed themselves as much.
“We found that the Deep South of America was very good for Borat because people were so polite and so welcoming of strangers. They were so proud of their American heritage that they would talk to this person about America and American values for an hour and a half.”

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