Video: Drug War Comedy Cuts Truth With Laughter
US filmmaker Greg Berger tells The Fix about raising awareness—and hope—through satirical drug war videos.
Filmmaker and journalist Greg Berger, known in Mexico as "Gringoyo," believes the best way to get people to pay attention to the drug war is through comedy—and conveying a message of hope. The "recovered documentary filmmaker" produces short, comedic viral videos that draw attention to the brutalities in Mexico, as well as documenting the rise of the largest mass movement against the Drug War since the crisis was declared 40 years ago. US-born Berger moved to Mexico in 1999 and witnessed escalating violence in 2006 when Calderon took power and the government, aided by the US, began cracking down on the country's powerful cartels. In his videos, distributed online at Narco News, Berger illustrates the "perverse logic" of the War on Drugs, and—through satire—criticizes the US and Mexican administrations' involvement in the violence. One of the videos, titled "Narco-mania!" is a Beatles-themed spoof, portraying four men in suits followed by hoards of screaming women. "Meet four agents from the US embassy in Mexico City, and the women who chase them," reads the text on the screen. "They lost their children, husbands, siblings and parents because of the US 'War on Drugs' in Mexico."
"In order for change to happen, people have to see a ray of hope," Berger tells The Fix. "Thats why I use comedy—to be able to laugh at the absurdity of the war on drugs, is showing that we're strong enough to do something about it." He believes the problem—and the solution—lie on both sides of the border. In Mexico, "you have entire communities that are having their families disappear and killed by the drug war" he says, while the US prison system is full of "victims of draconian drug laws." But Berger is hopeful that the movement will thrive, and eventually bring an end to the violence—especially if activists in Mexico and the US can come together. "When we can unite those movements on both sides of the border we will have more of a force to be reckoned with," he says. Berger's film Narco-Mania! And Other Parodies of the War on Drugs premiered at Alwan for the Arts Center in NYC on August 3rd; Narco-Mania! can be viewed here: