These days the news is full of war and famine, corruption and greed, but every once in a while we’re treated to a delicious little morsel of current events that brightens our day and puts some spring in our step. Local firemen save a cat stuck in a tree, a homeless man is given a second shot at life thanks to some caring strangers, the Mexican national petroleum company (Pemex) spends over $40 million to make cheesy safety videos filled with bikini-clad telenovela stars and low-budget special effects.
Yeah, the last one’s really just hilarious because it’s sad. But it’s still hilarious. And thanks to an investigative report released by Reuters last week, we have a much clearer picture of how absurd Pemex’s multi-million dollar “edu-tainment” program really is. Here’s a couple of the more savory tidbits we learned from the report…
Can’t make this stuff up folks.
They spent $44 million on 18 safety videos.
The total expenditure of 44 million dollars on 18 medium-length films is about 16x the annual budget dedicated to national film production by Mexico’s Ministry of Culture.
The man behind these videos is the nephew of "Lola la trailera."
Julio Fernandez, the president of Cinetransformer, Pemex’s go-to production company, pioneered the sexy training video format. He happens to be the son of Raul Fernandez whose claim to fame was a series of no-budget 80s action flicks he made with his brother about “Lola la Trailera” (“Lola the Trucker”): a tough-as-nails long-haul trucker gal who single-handedly battles narcos, corrupt politicans, and chupacabras. The movies starred his uncle Rolando’s wife, Rosa Gloria Chagoyan.
The videos are really horrible.
The writing is even worse.
Plot twists include: A worker suffering from an on-the-job spinal injury walks again after his son prays to the Virgin Mary; a distracting and scantily clad demonic seductress is defeated when a father-son duo follows safety protocol; a rig worker is left hearing impaired when he refuses to use ear protectors and can’t hear his own daughter getting hot and heavy with her boyfriend in the other room.
Their movie titles are just as bad as the movies.
Titles include: Investigation and Analysis of Incidents and Accidents, Operational Discipline, Operational Discipline II, and Health at Work.
They used 10 stunt doubles and lots of green screen.
At least part of the budget went toward hiring nine pre-production staffers, 10 stunt doubles, four drivers, two areal cameramen, 37 miscellaneous crew members, actors and extras and mediocre green screen technology. It is not entirely clear where the rest of the money went.
They might be employing small children.
How else would you explain this video?
Wearing high heels is bad for safety.
According to a Pemex video, wearing high heels to the office might cause you to violently throw yourself through a plate of synthetic stunt glass and earn you the disapproval of your coworkers.
Spending millions on videos is apparently cheaper than actual safety training.
Pemex executives were thrilled by the impact of the first test film, claiming it had “a much lower cost than higher intensity training.”
They use women in bikinis to spice things up.
Referencing the video’s use of sexuality, the same safety official pointed out: “If a woman comes out in a bikini, it is like salt and pepper for the oil workers.” Actual quote.
Their workers were allegedly moved to tears.
According to a Pemex safety official, workers sometimes shed tears while watching the videos. It is not clear if their eyes are forced open with medical tongs (see: A Clockwork Orange) or if the company’s mobile cinema doubles as a massive onion chopping operation.
These videos haven't changed the Mexican oil industry's dismal safety record.
Mexico has the worst injury rate of all major oil-producing countries.