Is it possible to plagiarize the work and ideas of a fictional character?
If so, a politician in Mexico has accomplished just that. The similarities between the Netflix show House of Cards and real-life politics in Latin American has been somewhat of a running joke. But Miguel Angel Covarrubias Cervantes, the former mayor of a small central Mexican town, has taken the comparison to another level. He took a speech made by president Frank Underwood, the unscrupulous character played by Kevin Spacey in the show, and turned it into his own video address. He didn’t give Underwood any credit.
Here’s what the young politician uploaded on his Facebook page:
“They say that we have the government that we deserve, and I think that Mexico deserves something bigger,” he starts.
Covarrubias’s speech wasn’t a word-by-word copy, but it was pretty close. For example, Underwood’s version says “leaders” instead of “government” in the opening line. A local news website put the two together to compare. Covarrubias only strays away from Underwood’s monologue in a few passages.
Netflix, which has a large number of subscribers in Mexico, joined in the fun after the video got picked up by news outlets big and small in the country. It tweeted “Imitation is not always the best form of flattery” in Spanish, and included a video message from Underwood’s sinister staffer, Doug Stamper. “You never know where people take their inspiration from,” he says in his subdued, spine-chilling style.
“There is only one rule,” reads the closing banner in reference to a famous Underwood phrase: “To copy or be copied.” (Underwood’s version ends with “to hunt or be hunted.”)
Covarrubias responded with another video explaining why he did the first one. “Copying was never the objective. The world’s attention, yes,” he said, specifically addressing “the president of the United States Frank Underwood and his cabinet.”
That kind of ploy wouldn’t be out of place in the show itself. We’ll have to wait to find out what Covarrubias wants to do with his 15 minutes of fame. His motto, which appears in the first video, is “Let’s do something great.”