Sacha Baron Cohen Sues Pot Company Over 'Borat' Weed Ad
Ahhh Sacha Baron Cohen – beloved actor, portrayer of Kazakhstani reporter, Borat Sagdiyev, and noted antagonist of/costar to ex NYC Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Yet among the many terms one could use to describe the iconic actor, there is one adjective in particular that Baron Cohen evidently does not find “very nice” – stoner. On Monday, the star filed a lawsuit against marijuana company Solar Therapeutics for copyright infringement, misappropriation of his right of publicity, and of course, false advertising after the business allegedly used Borat's image and his iconic catchphrase/Kazhakstan's tourism slogan of “Very Nice” on a Massachusetts billboard peddling their pot products.
“By use of the Billboard, the Defendants falsely have conveyed to the public that Mr. Baron Cohen has endorsed their products and is affiliated with their business,” Baron Cohen's attorney, David Condon, explained in the complaint. “To the contrary, Mr. Baron Cohen never has used cannabis in his life. He never would participate in an advertising campaign for cannabis, for any amount of money.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the star maintains that the company likely “took a gamble” in creating the advertisement, assuming the actor wouldn't learn about the billboard. However, as Baron Cohen is “very protective of his image,” he ultimately found out and was seemingly not happy, especially as he says using pot isn't a healthy decision.
Yet it seems Baron Cohen's opposition to the ad spans beyond his evident qualms surrounding marijuana. The use of his image also touches on a highly contentious issue within his culture -- whether weed can be used by members of the Jewish community. "With his ‘Ali G’ character, portrayed by Mr. Baron Cohen in the HBO television series Da Ali G Show, Mr. Baron Cohen has spent much of his career making a mockery of ‘stoner’ culture — a culture which the Defendants’ Billboard overtly celebrates,” Condon continued. “In addition, Mr. Baron Cohen was born into an Orthodox Jewish family; he is an Observant Jew; and he is proud of his cultural heritage. He does not wish to be involved in the heated controversy among the Orthodox Jewish community about whether cannabis can be used under Jewish traditions, customs, and rules.”
Although Baron Cohen may be particularly against purveying pot, as The Hollywood Reporter noted, the star is seemingly weary of brand deals as a whole, evidently turning down “countless opportunities” to work with various companies as he allegedly thinks doing so would compromise his credibility, both as an actor and a social activist.
So folks, although it may be fun to light up and watch everyone's favorite 2004 mockumentary, don't expect Baron Cohen to join the sesh.