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The Power of Ali G: Ridiculed UK Town May Change Name

Ali GWhat next? Will Kazakhstan decide it needs to become Somethingelse-stan? You have to hand it to Sacha Baron Cohen — his characters wield uncanny power. Report from AP via LA Times:

Staines wants the world to know it’s no blot on the landscape.

Sandwiched between Heathrow Airport, a cluster of reservoirs and a bleak industrial park, some in this London commuter town feel Staines has received some bad press — and needs a change of name to change its fortunes.

Middle-class Staines might have wallowed in happy obscurity had it not been picked by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as the home of Ali G, his tracksuit-wearing wannabe gangsta who specialized in hip-hop-inflected malapropisms.

Ali G’s adventures cast the town of 45,000 as an urban wasteland whose main attractions include a traffic circle and the local KFC. The town initially welcomed Baron Cohen’s fame, but the negative connotations lingered even as the comedian moved on to other projects, including the movies “Borat” and “Bruno.”

A 2008 Australian tourism campaign cast Staines as the epitome of glum, soggy and industrial Britain.

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