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Give Borat the boot

January 12, 2008

THE commentary on Sacha Baron Cohen's mothballing of his character Borat ["Dissecting the Tao of 'Borat' -- Did We Learn?" by Hillel Felman, Jan. 4] is wildly off the mark.

Cohen should be commended for ditching this character.

But as a visual artist, a proud board member of the Veteran Feminists of America, one of the unwilling subjects in Cohen's vast moneymaking empire and an example used in the article, I believe Cohen also needs to go further. He needs to disavow a method that has no Tao, only trickery and shame.

The author of the article uses tortured logic to credit Cohen with insights that, I can report, are far from reality.

Cohen had no secret method: He used flat-out deception and manipulation that replicate the worst of used-car salesmen, three-card monte dealers and subprime mortgage bundlers.

He induced participation by bait-and-switch techniques that would make a David Mamet character blush.

He multiplies this with cloying edits that snip whatever doesn't conform to his egomania-on-steroids.

In my latest art exhibition, I displayed a new visual work that shows the true Borat. It is a man whose equipment under his green "mankini" is so limited that he withers in comparison to the real heroes of our culture: women and men who are doing the hard work of using their art to promote peace, encourage diversity and raise understanding about human rights.

I'm proud that I kicked Borat out of my studio. I hope that Hollywood has "learned" to give his deceptive filmmaking the boot.

Linda Stein

New York

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