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Anthony Papa Headshot

Is the Best Response to the Mexican Drug War Laughter?

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Is the Drug War something to laugh at? The team at Narco News TV, under the helm of publisher Al Giordano, have been insisting for years that if we laugh at the war, we just might be able to weaken it and then defeat it. Their most recent video, "Foreigner Watch" shows more convincingly than ever that they may have a point. It is their latest success in a series of tragically hysterical short parodies revealing the vested interests of the Drug War and chronicling peoples movements to bring the war to an end.

Anyone familiar with the staggering statistics associated with the Drug War knows how massive and abstract numbers can leave us numb and feeling powerless. The hundreds of thousands of orphans and widows, the millions of incarcerated people, the huge expenditure on weaponry and surveillance systems -- it all seems so vast, that to put a stop to the madness seems like a Herculean proposition out of our reach. The scope of the misery associated with drug prohibition certainly doesn't seem to inspire hope or comedic material.

And yet since March of 2011, many Mexicans have demonstrated that they indeed have hope, and even a sense of humor about their struggle. Thousands have been organizing against the Drug War that outgoing President Felipe Calderon declared six years ago. Many of them are victims of violence, like Melchor Flores. Melchor says that his son, a well-known street performer, was forcibly disappeared in the city of Monterrey by out-of-control police dispatched to fight an accelerated Drug War. The pain that Melchor feels is evident when you see him on camera, but what is most striking about Melchor is that in spite of his suffering, his sense of humor is intact.

And so Melchor, Drug War victim turned political organizer, has become a natural collaborator with Narco News TV.

In "Foreigner Watch" an aggressive, bellicose anchorwoman from the U.S. named "Nancy Gunn," (who seems like she walked right off the set of Fox News's "Nancy Grace") dispatches a "war correspondent" with a soldier's helmet and flak jacket to a meeting of anti-Drug War activists, mostly women and children. The fictional "Nancy Gunn" then forces the hapless reporter to ask the very real Melchor Flores embarrassing questions like, "How long have you been a terrorist?" The reporter is played by Narco News TV director Greg "Gringoyo" Berger, who has made a career in Mexico parodying misinformed gringos in Latin America in his viral videos.

I'm not going to give away how the story unfolds. You'll have to watch it yourself.

Whether intentional or not, "Foreigner Watch" has captured the zeitgeist of current popular discontent against the media. In Mexico, the commercial media is increasingly a target of popular protest. This past summer, a mass movement protesting the blatant favoritism and skewed polling results that Mexican network giant Televisa gave to now President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto made it clear that Mexicans are less prone these days to be fooled by the lies about the Drug War and other important political issues. In the United States, Newsweek's over-the-top cover story about so called "Muslim rage" in the Middle East inspired a backlash on social media that dwarfed and ridiculed the original story.

In "Foreigner Watch" we laugh at Nancy Gunn and her on air counterpart "Ida Dumass" (written and performed by Heather McCuen and Katie Halper, respectively) precisely because we know that they aren't very far removed from many of the ill-informed real life reporters covering the Drug War and "civil unrest" around the world. Once we dismiss these media clowns with our laughter, the air will be clear for the real life Melchor Flores to tell the story of his struggle and mobilize people to end Drug prohibition once and for all.