Why Rudy Giuliani’s response to the Borat 2 scene is so problematic

But he was only tucking in his shirt. This has been the explanation of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, over his appearance in the new Sacha Baron Cohen satire, Borat 2, in which the president’s attorney and confidant is seen lying on a hotel bed with his hand down his pants, after being interviewed by 24-year-old actress Maria Bakalova; he’s just asked her for her phone number (via ABC). “I had to take off the electronic equipment,” explained Giuliani to the hosts of the Curtis & Juliet Show. “And when the electronic equipment came off, some of it was in the back and my shirt came a little out, although my clothes were entirely on. I leaned back, and I tucked my shirt in, and at that point, at that point, they have this picture they take which looks doctored, but in any event, I’m tucking my shirt in. I assure you that’s all I was doing.”

Baron Cohen told Good Morning America that Giuliani’s explanation is ludicrous. “If [Giuliani] found what he did there appropriate behavior, then heaven knows what he’s done with other female journalists in hotel rooms,” the comedian said. “He did what he did … make your own mind up. It was pretty clear to us.” What has alarmed critics isn’t whether Giuliani was framed or is lying, though — it’s that his “innocent” explanation of what he was doing with his pants is not appropriate, either — and that dismissing it as normal is… not normal. Or, shouldn’t be.

Men shouldn't get a free pass at 'adjusting themselves,' critics argue

The Borat 2 controversy with Giuliani’s pants “adjustment” comes just days after New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin exposed himself on a Zoom call, calling that moment “an embarrassingly stupid mistake” (per Vice). Critics say these “oopsie” moments should be taken more seriously — and the fact that they’re dismissed as innocent or stupid is a startling reflection of the mindset of both the men who’ve had issues keeping their pants on, and those who’ve defended them.

Columnist Arwa Mahdawi of The Guardian found it chilling that Giuliani had a “no biggie” attitude to a scene in which he was, quite literally, caught with his pants about to come down. “Perhaps he genuinely reckons there was nothing inappropriate about being very handsy with said journalist and asking her for her phone number before sticking his hand down his pants,” she wrote. “Can you imagine a female lawyer just casually putting her hand down her pants like Giuliani did? Can you imagine a female New Yorker staff writer doing what Toobin did? … Can you imagine a woman boasting about grabbing guys by the genitals and then being elected president? It’s unfathomable.” Musical talent Demi Lovato concurred. “So you normally drink with reporters, follow them to the bedroom and then lie on the bed and let her take off your mic for you? I guess I’ve been doin my interviews all wrong…” she tweeted in response to Giuliani’s explanation.

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