Borat, ethnocentricity and fear

I finally saw Borat tonight, and found it far more disturbing than I had expected.

Mainly, it was disturbing to see all the ethnocentric views exposed in the character Borat and in the people he interacted with, all reflecting the ethnocentric in myself.

It also struck me how much fear is tied in with the ethnocentric. We create a strong division between us and them, which naturally brings up fear. And that was very clear in the movie, to the point of people reacting with fear (sometimes expressed as anger) even when he walked up to people to give them an innocent kiss on the cheek…!

And it was a reminder of how many in today’s world are mainly at ethnocentric, including here in the US. Not that it is a surprise (US domestic and foreign politics is rife with ethnocentrism, in a large number of areas – from homophobia to racism to islamophobia to we-are-the-greatest and everybody-for-themselves attitudes.) But in a world that is in great need (on a relative level) of worldcentric solutions, it does not look so good.

So what I am left with is a sense of how disturbing the ethnocentric can be in some of its expressions, that the ethnocentric is right here as well, and a sense of compassion for us all for having to deal with this – in ourselves and each other.

Not what I expected from this movie, but maybe more what I needed than just comedy.

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