by Charlie Crooijmans
The Kazakh athlete Maria Dmitrienko won the golden medal at the Arab Shooting Championships on March 23 in Kuwait. She was confronted with a very unpleasant surprise. Instead of the national anthem from Kazakhstan, the parody of the anthem was played. The organizers downloaded the wrong and offensive anthem from the internet. They were very ashamed and apologized. Maria Dmitrienko, as you can see in the video below, felt awkward but she remained firm and even smiled at the end.
The parody of the Kazakhstan anthem is produced by UK comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for the film Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan (2006), a mockumentary directed by Larry Charles. It is about a sexist and homophobic Kazakhstan television reporter (Borat Sagdiyev) who travels in the USA wanting to capture Pamela Anderson. The movie ridicules the cultural customs of Kazakhstan. But it tells us more about the American people who reveal themselves as being ignorant and prejudiced.
The movie is surrounded by controversy. The Kazakhstan government was not amused with Borat’s appearance at the Ali G Show a year before. His “Kazakh-based” website (www.borat.kz) was taken off the air. To counter the image Borat has created, the government of Kazakhstan launched the exorbitant “Heart of Eurasia” campaign (“Welcome to Kazakhstan! No Borat, no fake!”).
Borat, the satirical movie, was a commercial success. Baron Cohen won the 2007 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor: Musical or Comedy and the movie was nominated for Best Motion Picture in the same category. Despite this all Arab countries (including Kuwait) banned the movie because of filthy and ridiculous content.
The confusion between the anthems was probably by accident. Would they have made this mistake if the movie had not been banned? Would it have been better to let the people judge for themselves whether a movie is good or bad? Food for discussion.