Not the case with Borat. It seems Cohen and his crew deliberately misled participants in the movie. Not only did they really think this man was a reporter from Kazakhstan, they were asked to sign an iron-clad release form before shooting began for what they were told would be a little documentary shown in Kazakhstan. They were promised the film would never be shown in America.
Never, after the filming wrapped, were these people informed that they had been duped, or that they would be appearing in a major American motion picture with distribution from 20th Century Fox. When they found out, many where understandably angry. One lawsuit, filed by young men from a college fraternity, claims that they were taken to a bar to loosen up before filming began and encouraged to make sexist remarks against women.
But Cohen's no dummy. The slew of lawsuits has done nothing to slow the pace of the film, which is still holding at a tie for the number two spot at the box-office.
My question is not about the popularity of the film, or even its standing as a cultural phenomenon.
My question is about ethics. What does it say about us as Americans, as members of a world society, when we can support this type of deceit? Today it was in the name of humor. But what comes next? Politics? War? Crime? Drugs?
The ethical slope is a slippery one. And we need to be aware of it not tripping, slobbering drunk, over its path thinking "next time we'll pay more attention." Pay attention now, because the next time our rights are violated, it may not be so funny!