Teaching through a Study of the Borat Litigation

By Panda Kroll.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the film “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” unwitting individuals are duped into portraying themselves in an unflattering light. The ad-lib film, which was expected to flop, went on to earn $260M at the box office and a 2007 Oscar nomination for best-adapted screenplay. Controversial and purposely offensive, the film spawned ten lawsuits against the producers, based on claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, fraud and rescission. Nevertheless, U.S. state and federal judges agreed that the film, by blending fact and fiction, serves a public interest by providing an “ironic commentary of ‘modern’ American culture.” By analyzing the primary sources in the litigation, students learn why this bizarre “mockumentary” was found deserving of U.S. First Amendment protection, and can apply critical thinking skills to the problem of balancing competing individual and group rights in a diverse society and global community.

Keywords: Critical Thinking, Media Literacy, Business Law, Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mockumentary, Kazakhstan, Carmen Meets Borat, First Amendment, Otherness

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.127-146. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 709.660KB).

Panda Kroll

Lecturer, Martin V. School of Business, California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, USA

Panda Kroll, Esq., is an associate of the David Karen Law Offices in Ventura County California and a lecturer at California State University Channel Islands where she has taught courses in critical thinking and business law over the past seven years. Ms. Kroll earned a BA in literature from the University of California Santa Cruz, a MFA in digital media from Northern Illinois University, and a JD from Boston University. After receiving her law degree she clerked on the Massachusetts Appeals Court where she developed her interest in 1st Amendment cases. Ms. Kroll considers it her duty to watch all films and reality shows that might possibly invoke a public interest or for that matter, any interest at all in her freshmen students.

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