Judge Dismisses 'Borat' Suit, Says Movie Is Vulgar But of Social Value
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a man who was chased down a New York City street by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in a scene in his move, Borat.
The frightened man, Jeffrey Lemerond, contended in his lawsuit that the movie used his image without his consent in violation of a state law, the New York Times reports in its City Room blog. In the film, the alarmed Lemerond shouts “Go away!” as he runs down the street, with Cohen’s character Borat in hot pursuit of a hug.
The New York law bars use of another’s images for advertising or purposes of trade without written permission. U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ruled on Monday that the law does not restrict the use of images for newsworthy events of public interest, and the movie qualifies as such, according to the Times account.
“Of course, the movie employs as its chief medium a brand of humor that appeals to the most childish and vulgar in its viewer,” Preska wrote. “At its core, however, Borat attempts an ironic commentary of ‘modern’ American culture, contrasting the backwardness of its protagonist with the social ills [that] afflict supposedly sophisticated society. The movie challenges its viewers to confront not only the bizarre and offensive Borat character himself, but the equally bizarre and offensive reactions he elicits from ‘ordinary’ Americans.”
Above the Law’s David Lat imagines how the Borat character might have reacted to the ruling: “Dismissal of lawsuit: Is nice! Borat want to meet Judge Preska and make sexytime under her robe.”