For years Gregory “Gringoyo” Berger has been blessing us with his humorous and provocative takes on Mexico-US relations with characteristic biting satire, and now he’s back with a new and wholly appropriate comedic alter-ego, Joe T. Hodo (pronounce it in Spanish with a hard “H” if you want to get the joke.)
Appearing in a new web series titled El Joe T. Hodo Show, Berger takes his unapologetically laissez-faire Texas oil baron persona through Mexico’s social landscape, spotlighting everything from indigenous community policing to iconic Rock en Español pioneers in a hilarious mashup of satirical performance art and radical journalism.
Donning the cowboy hat, blazer, and rugged jeans so typical of freewheelin’ cowboy millionaires, Hodo is a sincere – and almost likable – version of Amurica’s id who’s down in Mexico because there’s money to be made. Unsurprisingly, he thinks it’s totally reasonable that the country’s legal and social institutions be restructured to guarantee him maximum profits… and what better way to accomplish this than by running for president of Mexico?
It seems like an absurd conceit, but it’s more or less a factual rendering of the US’ feelings toward Mexico’s economic and political autonomy. Yet beyond the show’s clever sendup of US arrogance, Berger is bringing us an on-the-ground view of artistic and social movements in modern Mexico.
In episode 1, Hodo heads down to the state of Guerrero, where rural communities have banded together to create a localized criminal justice system that focuses on reeducation rather than punishment. But rather than simply explaining the work these communities are doing, Hodo uses the segment to make a bet with a local leader that he can buy off one of his community police officers. Even better than Berger is the deadpan performance of the community leader, who plays along brilliantly, hurling insults at Hodo while spreading the message of his community’s important work.
Episode 2, which was released just last week, formalizes Hodo’s new political movement: GUERO, or “Gringos Unidos con Españoletes para Reestablecer el Orden.” In an effort to recruit a savvy campaign advisor, Hodo links up with Francisco “El Mastuerzo” Barrios of the iconic Mexican rock band Botellita de Jeréz.
Throughout the interview, Hodo whips out promotional images of himself reimagined as an Aztec god, and attempts to rewrite the Mexican national anthem to include a clause about letting in foreigners who want to run the country. But more importantly, we get to touch base with a rock ’n roll icon and learn a little bit about his own “anarco-valemadres” vision of the world.
With internet access opening up and spreading rapidly across the country, Berger’s hoping Hodo can make waves in Mexico and continue stirring up the political pot with a much-needed dose of satirical humor. Judging from the press Hodo’s starting to get, he may very well be succeeding.
To keep the laughs coming, lend your support this kickstarter campaign to help fund further episodes of El Joe T. Hodo Show.