You know who Joe T. Hodo is, the hilarious satirical character whose Frack U video went viral in Mexico late last year. Last week, Hodo (played by Gregory Berger) was invited to appear on Mexico’s Milenio TV. Berger sent us a clip of Hodo’s appearance, and yes it is hilarious, because you don’t really know if Milenio is in on the joke or not. According to Berger, Milenio TV emailed him “out of the blue and invited Joe T. Hodo to the studio as if he were a real person.”
We asked Berger to send us more context about the appearance and this is what he wrote back to us:
We published our short film “Frack U. Mexico” in December on Narco News TV. Mexico’s congress was about to vote on changes to the national constitution which would let private and foreign companies get it on the oil and gas business. A huge portion of this new business will be related to fracking, but no one in Mexico was talking about that and most people had no idea what the word even meant. I wanted to laugh the word straight into the national vocabulary in the hopes that people would begin to organize around the issue.
Within days, the video went viral, with nearly 90,000 views of the original link and many, many more views through unauthorized copies of Facebook and YouTube. And people suddenly started talking about fracking. We counted the number of articles people were writing about fracking and it went up close to 900% over the following month compared to the previous six months I got stopped by an old lady on the street who recognized me from the video and yelled at me for sticking poison in the ground. I guess people from all age groups watch viral videos these days. I was told by one friend from the State of Puebla that the Federal congressman (from Puebla) was taken to task by his constituents for his cavalier admission that fracking is dangerous but that it needed to be done anyway.
Unfortunately the new laws were passed, but the fight to stop fracking will take place on the local level. People in some communities, like one I visited recently in the North of Veracruz, are starting to organize to stop fracking, and are using the video to teach their neighbors what fracking is. These are communities to watch over the coming months and years.
Then last week we were invited to talk about the film on Milenio TV, a national cable news station with a very large viewership, run by one of Mexico’s most powerful media companies. Before heading to the studio, I downed a double espresso at Café La Habana, a Mexico City landmark where generations of exiles and immigrants of all stripes, from Roberto Bolaño to Fidel Castro, used to hang out before getting down to business.
Then I put on Joe T. Hodo’s costume, showed up in character and remained that way throughout the entire interview. The funny thing is that in a country like Mexico, where politicians routinely go on live TV and say the craziest most far-fetched things, I had to really work to try and outdo them. When I suggested that the moisture content of Mexican citizens could be harvested to provide water for fracking wells, I was still well within the range of what might be considered a sane statement in the arena of Mexican politics.
Thanks to Joe T. Hodo’s insane pro-fracking rants, the anchorman took an anti-fracking stance and encouraged viewers to think twice before allowing fracking in Mexico. That’s one of the things that viral media can do; burrow its way into more powerful media and push the narrative a little closer to where it needs to be.
My compañeros and I have lots more tricks like this up our sleeve for the months and years to come, so stay tuned…