POLITICS
10/23/2020 11:38 EDT

‘Borat 2’ Takes Aim At The Justin Trudeau Blackface And Brownface Scandal

An unforgettable photo makes an appearance about two minutes into the film’s opening.

Rudy Giuliani isn’t the only political figure to get burned by Sacha Baron Cohen’s new film “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” the sequel to the 2006 mockumentary “Borat.” 

While the former New York mayor and current Trump adviser was caught literally with his hand in his pants, the film also takes a brief moment to swipe at a certain Canadian prime minister.

And it’s a heck of a swipe. 

The sequel opens by tracing some recent political history, including the election of former U.S. president Barack Obama. Baron Cohen’s narration as Borat then notes “this led to other Africans becoming world leaders.”

The film then cuts to that unforgettable image of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in brownface.

Prime Studios
A screenshot from the new film "Borat 2," which includes a joke about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's brownface scandal.

It’s a shocking cut and a deep burn from Baron Cohen, who often engages in heated political satire. It’s also a stark reminder to Canadians of the federal election campaign just over a year ago that was dominated by the emergence of multiple photos of Trudeau in blackface and brownface. 

Trudeau apologized first after the photo of him at age 29 in brownface and a turban at an “Arabian Nights”-themed party in 2001 circulated online, calling it “racist” and “dumb.” At the same time, he also apologized for another yearbook photo showing him in blackface.

“I made a mistake when I was younger and I wish I hadn’t,” he said. “I should have known better then, but I didn’t. And I did it. And I am deeply sorry for it.”

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Justin Trudeau makes a statement in regards to photo of himself from 2001 wearing brownface, during a scrum on his campaign plane in Halifax, on Sept. 18, 2019.

In the following days, an additional video emerged from Trudeau’s time as a camp counsellor where the future prime minister is again seen in dark makeup. This prompted Trudeau to apologize again and acknowledge that he may not recall every instance.

“It is obvious that this is something that is deeply regrettable. I am wary of being definitive about this because the recent pictures that came out I had not remembered,” he said at the time.

A year later, Canadians have been quick to remember the unforgettable image when it showed up in the new “Borat” film, which started streaming on Prime Video late Thursday night. 

Many pointed out that the movie’s content warning contains a reference to blackface, and that the image of Trudeau is the only instance of blackface to appear in the film.

Frankly, us Canucks should have all seen this coming. A giant inflatable version of the film’s titular character was spotted in the Toronto harbour Wednesday, prompting plenty of “my wharf!” jokes.

Little did we — or Trudeau for that matter — know that the film would hit this close to home.