The National Trust today slammed the ‘defacement’ of the famous Cerne Abbas Giant chalk figure following an apparent stunt to promote the new Borat film.
The 180ft chalk hill figure in Dorset had a huge face mask placed over its genitals like the ‘mankini’ made famous in the 2006 movie with the slogan: ‘Wear mask. Save live’.
The addition is thought to have been one of various PR stunts carried out by producers of the sequel which began streaming on Amazon Prime Video today.
But following the stunt yesterday morning, furious officials at the charity – which protects the hillside – said they did not give anyone permission to alter the figure.
Images of Sacha Baron Cohen’s character have appeared on landmarks across the UK, wearing a medical face mask-styled mankini to promote the film’s release.
The Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset had a huge face mask placed over its genitals yesterday like the ‘mankini’ made famous in the 2006 movie Borat with the slogan: ‘Wear mask. Save live’
How the 180ft chalk giant in Dorset which is owned by the National Trust appears normally
These included Edinburgh Castle, the Tower of London, the Angel of the North and Arthur’s Seat. The mask has since been removed from the Cerne Abbas Giant.
Earlier this week, a huge inflatable Borat was floated down the River Thames in London – but the National Trust hit out today at the ‘ill-conceived PR stunt’.
A National Trust spokesman said: ‘We do not encourage the defacing of the Cerne Abbas Giant as any such action may damage this fragile site, whether by someone physically attaching something to him or giving the impression of having done so, may encourage others.
‘The giant is protected as both a Scheduled Ancient Monument and as part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its important chalk grassland which supports wild flowers, butterflies and other wildlife.’
The hillside figure was given to the National Trust a century ago in 1920, and part of the task of conserving the Giant means leaving it alone as much as possible.
A man wearing a face mask walks past an advert for ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’
This image released by Amazon Studios shows Sacha Baron Cohen in a scene from Borat 2
The chalk is replaced every decade in a process taking days of work by rangers and volunteers. But the more the ground is disturbed, the quicker the Giant erodes away.
What is known about the Cerne Abbas Giant
The Cerne Abbas Giant is a chalk figure of an enormous naked man wielding a club carved into the side of a hill in Dorchester, England.
The giant is one of a number of presumably ancient hill figures that dot the English countryside, such as the Long Man of Wilmington and the White Horse of Uffington.
The Cerne Abbas giant is uniquely distinctive because of the enormous erect phallus that he sports.
The figure is 180 feet (55 metres) tall and the club he carries is 120 feet (36 metres) long.
The giant occupies a treasured place in British culture. He’s widely believed to have been carved thousands of years ago.
Folklore suggests he’s an ancient fertility god, possessing the power to make childless women pregnant.
Postcards of him are the only images of a naked man accepted by the British post office.
But in recent years historians have suggested that the Giant may date only to the seventeenth-century, since the first written reference to it only dates to 1694.
Furthermore, its creation may have been a prank, they suggest.
It’s not the first time the Giant has been altered in some way. In April this year, village residents awoke to see their chalk guardian wearing a face mask.
In March last year it was given a flower to promote International Women’s Day.
A spokesman for Amazon Studios was approached for comment by MailOnline today.
The Borat sequel is titled ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’.
The film is the follow-up to Cohen’s 2006 hit ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’.
It sees the titular fictitious Kazakh journalist return to the US on a mission to offer his daughter to US vice president Mike Pence.
This week, Borat came to the defence of Rudy Giuliani after Donald Trump’s personal lawyer was shown in what appeared to be a compromising position in his new film.
Appearing in character as the Kazakh journalist, Cohen said the scene has been turned into ‘something disgusting’ by the ‘fake news media’.
In a video on Twitter, Borat says: ‘Jagshemash. I here to defend America’s mayor, Rudolph Giuliani.
‘What was an innocent sexy-time encounter between a consenting man and my 15-year-old daughter has been turned into something disgusting via fake news media.’
The character then makes the motion of Pinocchio’s nose growing longer.
He added: ‘I warn you. Anyone else try this and Rudolph will not hesitate to reach into his legal briefs and whip out his subpoenas.’
Former New York mayor Mr Giuliani has made headlines for a scene from the film in which he is shown in a hotel room with Borat’s teenage daughter Tutar, played by actress Maria Bakalova, who is posing as a TV journalist and helps Mr Giuliani take off his microphone.
He then lies back on the bed and appears to have his hands in his trousers, before Baron Cohen, dressed in lingerie, bursts in and says: ‘She’s 15, she’s too old for you, she’s my daughter.’
Giuliani has described the video as ‘a complete fabrication’. He wrote on Twitter: ‘I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment.
‘At no time before, during or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar.’
He added: ‘As soon as I realised it was a set-up I called the police.’