Ali G in the NYT

A classic Ali G moment, via Maureen Dowd in the New York Times (username: sitescooper/sitescooper):

  • YOUNG MAN: How does you make countries do stuff you want?
  • MR. BAKER: Well, the way you deal with countries on foreign policy issues . . . is you deal with carrots and sticks.
  • YOUNG MAN: But what country is gonna want carrots, even if it’s like a million tons of carrots that you’re giving over there—-
  • MR. BAKER: Well, carrots — I’m not using the term literally. You might send foreign aid — money, money.
  • YOUNG MAN: Well, money’s better than carrots. Even if a country love carrots and that is, like, their favorite national food, if they get given them—-
  • MR. BAKER: Well, don’t get hung up on carrots. That’s just a figure of speech.
  • YOUNG MAN: So would you ever send carrots? You know, is there any situation—-
  • MR. BAKER: No, no.
  • YOUNG MAN: What about if there was a famine?
  • MR. BAKER: Carrots, themselves? No.


Initially, there were a lot of media reports in the UK and Ireland, about how negatively it was taken in the US; this interview with the director reckons that was rubbish put about by UK media:

‘I’ve got a theory about this: In Britain, we’re no longer world leaders in anything. … Yet the one thing we still maintain, and cling on to jealously, is that we’ve got the best sense of humour in the world. So we don’t like the idea that people in other countries get our sense of humour. We prefer to cling to the idea that our comedy is too sophisticated for the Americans And yet the truth is rather different. If you look at sitcoms, with a couple of exceptions, all the best ones come from America, like Friends, Frasier, Seinfeld and so on.’

‘I actually think Americans get the undertones of satire almost better than the British. It can’t be coincidence that the best comedies on our TV are all imported from America.’

But then even the bad reviews never said that Ali G was too sophisticated, complaining instead that the satire wasn’t subtle enough. Maybe the Americans are the more comedy-literate, after all.

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