Mexican candidates release excruciating and possibly illegal campaign videos
‘Plagiarism is a tradition in Mexico’: one of these videos features a candidate pumping his fist to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” but band manager says no consent was given.
Politics, so the saying goes, is show business for ugly people. But in Mexico, the current mid-term election campaign is more like the early rounds of a Saturday evening TV talent show.
Rival parties have released a string of excruciating campaign videos based on recent pop hits and golden oldies, with little apparent concern for the sensibilities of their viewers – or niceties of copyright law.
The phenomenon is not new but seems particularly pronounced in the runup to the 7 June vote to choose federal deputies, state governors and local officials – a vote which is taking place amid general gloom about the country’s extreme violence, entrenched corruption and mediocre economic performance.
One campaign features congressional candidate Antonio Tarek Abdalá awkwardly bopping along to a version of Pharrell Williams’s phenomenal global hit Happy – in which the song’s original chorus has been replaced with such gems as “With Antonio Tarek – we will do well” and “With Antonio Tarek – he’s the only one who can.”
Tarek is standing for the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the district around the town of Cosamaloapan in the state of Veracruz, where dozens of bodies were found in a clandestine grave last year.
Another PRI candidate, Manuel Pozo, chose a Queen classic to back his bid to become mayor of Querétaro. The video featured the candidate pumping his fist to the tune of We Will Rock You and included lyrics such as “Peace for the children, you are the best”. Queen’s manager, Jim Beach, told the British Newspaper The Guardian in an email that no consent was given to use the song on the video – which has now been taken down from the internet.
Xavier Domínguez, the Catalan chairman of the political advertising agency Wish & Win, who has worked with Mexican candidates for years, said it is unlikely that any of the campaigns sought permission to use the hits. He dismissed the videos as “ridiculous” efforts to provide entertainment, rather than part of any clear strategy.
“Plagiarism is a tradition here, and nobody is ever sanctioned for it,” said Dominguez. “In a country where human rights are violated all the time, nobody is going to bother about copyright.”
Raúl García, who is running for federal deputy in the northern city of Ciudad Júarez for the National Action Party, or PAN, has based his campaign to a raunchy track originally sung by a Colombian performer known as Mr Black. In place of the suggestive lyrics and scantily clad dancers featured in the original video, the campaign song features a wholesome young woman in jeans doing a dance routine that García told Radio Fórmula was designed to promote exercise.
Diego Leyva, a congressional candidate for the PAN in the state of Guanajuato, took the dancing component to an extreme in his version of Yo Soy Mortal (I Am Mortal) – a song from the trival dance subgenre. Leyva’s video copies the original almost shot for shot, with the candidate making the same shuffling steps and sporting similarly elongated boots as singer Ernesto Chavana.
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