The True Kazakhstan (Despite what Borat Says)

With all the press that Borat has been receiving about his new movie, not a single article I’ve come across has spent the time to accurately counter the misconceptions that Borat conveys about his “home” country of Kazakhstan.

My guess is that few film critics have ever visited this Central Asian country and can only talk about the movie from their limited Hollywood perspective.

Thankfully, Lucy Kelaart is not one of them. Kelaart is a co-editor of Steppe Magazine and truly knows what the real Kazakhstan is all about.

Steppe Magazine celebrates “the arts, culture, history, landscape and people” of the steppe region–defined by the editors as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Xinjiang. The magazine’s photography and articles seem very impressive, although there unfortunately isn’t any content online.

Kelaart relies on her expertise in the area to dispel some of the stereotyping and outright exaggerations Borat relies on for his humor and to paint a more accurate depiction of the world’s ninth largest country. She writes of “Stylish cities… glorious landscapes,” sushi, wi-fi, skiing, skating, eagle hunting, banyas, the Altay Mountains, and the former capital of Almaty.

I’ve visited Kazakhstan myself and have to agree that the country does have lots to offer, but it is still a very backwards and challenging place, especially for tourists. Borat, like all good comedians, simply exaggerates the very worst and makes up the rest.