Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
- mockumentary / ˌmɒk yəˈmɛn tə ri / (n) – a movie or television series showing fictional events in the form of a documentary
The film was designed to be a mockumentary and should not be taken too seriously.
- poke fun at (someone/something) / poʊk fʌn æt / (idiom) – to make jokes about someone or something
Stand-up comedians often poke fun at audiences at their shows.
- derogatory / dɪˈrɒg əˌtɔr i / (adj) – showing a low opinion of someone or something
His account was banned from the website after he posted some derogatory comments about the company.
- portrayal / pɔrˈtreɪ əl / (n) – the way someone or something is represented in a work of art or literature
The movie received several awards for its realistic portrayal of the war.
- marvel / ˈmɑr vəl / (v) – to be amazed at someone or something
I marveled at how realistic the paintings were.
Read the text below.
Kazakhstan recently launched a tourism campaign featuring a well-known catchphrase from the mockumentary film series Borat.
The Borat movies star English actor Sacha Baron Cohen as the eponymous Borat Sagdiyev, a fictitious journalist from Kazakhstan who travels to America and pokes fun at his home country.
After the first film’s release in 2006, the government of Kazakhstan strongly disapproved of the movie for its derogatory jokes and banned it for its offensive portrayal of the country. However, when its sequel was released earlier this year, the Kazakhstan tourism board decided to adopt Borat’s catchphrase “Very nice!” to promote the country.
The tourism campaign includes four videos that show tourists exploring Kazakhstan’s landscapes, trying out local delicacies, and marveling at its architecture, markets, and culture. At the end of each 12-second ad, the tourists say Borat’s catchphrase.
According to Kairat Sadvakassov, the deputy chairman of the tourism board of Kazakhstan, the new slogan perfectly describes the country’s tourism potential. He said that contrary to the jokes in Borat, Kazakhstan’s food, environment, and people are actually very nice. He encouraged people to visit Kazakhstan in 2021 and beyond so they can personally experience what the country can offer.
In a statement, Baron Cohen said that the country is actually beautiful, modern, and proud, unlike how it is depicted in his movies. He explained that he featured Kazakhstan in his films because it was a country that almost no Americans knew anything about, which allowed him to create a fictional world.
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
• Do you think the video campaign is enough to encourage people to visit Kazakhstan in the future? Why or why not?
• Do you think Baron Cohen should apologize to Kazakhstan for portraying the country negatively in his movies? Why or why not?
• Do you think it is acceptable to depict a real country in a movie differently than how it truly is? Why or why not?
• If someone were to make a movie about your country, what unique characteristics of your country would you like to be featured? Why?