/ September 14, 2008

Pro-Borat Decision Catapults Judge to 2nd Circuit

Apparently, the cultural learnings of America make benefit the glorious United States District Court Judge Loretta Preska.  Judge Preska, who recently presided over a suit against the makers of the faux-documentary Borat, was rewarded for all of her hard work on the case with an appointment by President Bush to sit on the Federal 2nd Circuit.  Preska took a careful interpretation of contract law to grant the defendants’ motion to dismiss, earning her some well-deserved kudos from the legal community.
Many of the unsuspecting subjects in the Borat movie have attempted to sue the film’s producers and star, Sacha Baron Cohen, for misrepresentation.  In this particular suit, the plaintiffs include a drivers education teacher, several guests from a dinner attended by Borat, and an etiquette instructor.  Preska’s opinion contains an  analysis of the controversial film’s intentions, explaining that Borat’s offensive and somewhat disgusting behavior does, in a way, serve a higher purpose:
“At its core… Borat attempts an ironic commentary of ‘modern’ American culture, contrasting the backwardness of its protagonist with the social ills [that] afflict supposedly sophisticated society.”
Borat’s behavior prods his American hosts into words or deeds that do not necessarily reflect their best nature, and many of the individuals who appeared in the film were horrified to find out they would be appearing in a blockbuster satire.
All participants, however, did sign a contract explaining that they would be filming a documentary-style movie, and acknowledged that each “… Participant is not relying upon any promises or statements made by anyone about the nature of the Film or the identity of any other Participants or persons involved in the film.”  Effectively, the characters that encountered Borat along his journey had signed away their rights to challenge the validity of who he was or what he was doing.  Judge Preska concluded that each plaintiff had signed a valid agreement and granted the film’s motion to dismiss.
Source: The Wall Street Journal Law Blog

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