Did We Miss the Social Commentary? Responding to Borat on Youtube
University of Latvia - Faculty of Social Sciences
January 27, 2011
Ever since the fictitious Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev became an icon of contemporary popular culture, many questions have arisen about the reception of Borat by the general public. Namely, how common people have created a shared representation of Borat and how the complicated character and comedic manner undertaken by Sacha Baron Cohen is being deciphered. To address these questions that, surely, also could be asked concerning other international media products, this article deals with the reception of Borat the character on YouTube. In particular, the viewers’ reaction to the YouTube video titled “The Best of Borat” is analysed. This video has been viewed more than seven million times and commented upon nearly seven thousand times. The conceptual framework of this analysis is derived from the social representations theory postulated by Serge Moscovici. In line with this theory two main operations – anchoring and objectification – are explored in order to understand how a consensual or diverging knowledge of Borat is created. YouTube comments are analysed by using thematic analysis, which is facilitated by the qualitative research software program NVivo 8. The research results suggest that anchoring of Borat is embedded in the national identification discourse, whereas objectification differentiates people according to their sense of humour. Likewise, the article argues that Borat the character might place strong nations able to self-criticise and laugh at themselves in opposition to weak or unrecognised nations totally incapable of participating in mockery.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: Mockumentary, Social Representation Theory, National Identity, YouTube Commentsworking papers series
Date posted: February 1, 2011
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