October 26, 2006 at 07:42 PM EDT

Yesterday’s newsflash: We, the foot soldiers of amalgamated media, love Borat (pictured)! Today’s newsflash: You don’t know who he is!

Well, some of you do. But not enough to warrant the planned 2000-screen rollout of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s excoriating satire Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Twentieth Century Fox has narrowed the Borat invasion to a more indie-friendly 800 screens, not because of the controversy with Kazakhstan or (as far as we know) a Fox-y fear of heartland backlash, but simply because most people simply don’t know Borat from Borax.

Could you come cold to Borat, “get” the joke and be wildlyentertained? Absolutely. But if that question has to be asked at all,that’s too much ambiguity for the distribution wizards. They’re lookingfor “awareness,” which also happens to be the lowest standard doctorslook for in coma patients. (A measure of the esteem in which you’reheld, gentle reader.) And, statistically speaking, the nation is not “aware” of Borat. They also worry that people won’t read the conceitunless they’re already “in on the joke.” Golly, they must think you’repretty stupid.

But you know what? They’re right. Not about the stupid part — thejury’s out on that one. They’re right about the awareness thing and thebreadth of the appeal. I freely admit a media conspiracy surroundingBorat: It’s a conspiracy of taste.

I don’t think of myself as a snob (I have other people to do thatfor me), but I confess, I like things that make me laugh. Jim Belushifarting conventionally doesn’t. Cartman farting anarchically does. Sodoes Baron Cohen ripping this great nation a new one with fearless satiricflair. Baron Cohen’s great, Sellersesque even. He’s done somethingremarkable, he deserves to be seen, and we of the Media-natidesperately want to make him a fait accompli — for all the right reasons,too. But because it’s for all the right reasons, we’ve been perhaps abit too willing to jump aboard Borat’s promo train. Perhaps that wasn’tgood for us — or for Borat.

Because (and we forget this sometimes) you haven’t seen this movieyet. And our perfectly virtuous campaign to convince you of its (veryreal) genius began so early, and reached such a shrill pitch, itsimultaneously convinced Fox to pursue an unrealistic rolloutand convinced “early adopters” that Borat wasn’t an undergroundsensation, but a corporate stratagem. (In fact, it’s both.)

The fact of the matter is: You, discriminating media consumer, discovered Waiting for Guffman, Office Space, and Tenacious D. And you deserve to discover Borat, before we buzzkill it with highminded hype. We tried to make this an arranged marriage. We should’ve just let y’all flirt.

So, from all of us here at the Death Star, I apologize: to you,media consumers; to Borat; and to the nation of Kazakhstan, to whom weare sending 80 vats of our finest fermented horse urine.

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