It’s always a bit of a surprise which videos end up going viral. There’s rarely a discernable reason that some things catch on and others don’t. Often, the videos that do capture global attention are much simpler than the ones that seem carefully calibrated to garner reactions.
Nathan Apodaca is a good example. The 37-year-old Idaho dad has amassed more than nine million likes for a delightful TikTok set to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” There are no obvious comedic beats or dramatic scenery or choreographed dance moves — just a guy contentedly skateboarding down the street, drinking cranberry juice directly from the bottle, and briefly lipsynching to the classic 1977 tune.
On Thursday, a new project of his was announced: he’ll appear as a “guest card” in Cheech and Chong Bud Farm, a mobile game set in the 1970s where the comedy duo tries to smoke weed and outsmart the law. On Friday, users can attend an in-game Battle of the Bands, where Apodaca will be seen with his skateboard and cranberry juice.
“Cheech and I love the simple, chill feeling in Nathan’s TikTok video,” Tommy Chong said in a press release. “It’s really what we need right now and we are excited to have him in our game.”
The company behind the game, LEAF Mobile, will also donate to two charities of Apodaca’s choice, including a Canadian one: he opted for the B.C Humane Society and the Idaho Humane Society.
The viral video came about organically: Apodaca was on his way to work when his car battery gave out, he told E! News. “So, I grabbed my longboard, grabbed my juice, and then took off,” he said. “I was looking through my favourite songs and Fleetwood Mac is in the top 10. It just felt right and I did it all in one take.”
He posted the video to TikTok once he got to work, he told The New York Times, figuring he’d delete it if people didn’t like it.
“If they ain’t feeling the vibe, I’ll just pull it,” he said. “No harm, no foul.”
But it blew up right away, so quickly that Ocean Spray — the brand of cranberry juice he drinks in the video — sensed a branding opportunity. They delivered a cranberry-red pickup truck to the RV where he lives, filled with bottles and bottles of Ocean Spray drinks.
43 years after its release, “Dreams” has now risen to the number two slot on Rolling Stones’ Top 100 Chart. And the video has now been replicated hundreds of times, including a rendition by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh as well as Fleetwood Mac co-founder Mick Fleetwood himself.
Fleetwood himself also thanked Apodaca when he surprised him by joining in on a BBC News interview.
“We owe you,” Fleetwood said. “It’s such a great story, and so needed in days that are really challenging. It makes people smile, and I’m so happy to be part of it.”
And the band’s singer Stevie Nicks did her own take on the “Dreams Challenge,” lacing up roller skates as she sang alone to the song, an Ocean Spray cranberry juice jug visible in the background.
Apodaca definitely wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction, he told HuffPost earlier this week. One of his daughters has helped him make a schedule to field all his interview requests.
“I thought work was hard,” he said, laughing. “I’m a labourer, I could work 12-16 hour days straight, Monday through Friday no sweat. Now it’s interview after interview.”
But he’s enjoying himself, he added. “It’s not anything I can’t handle ― I’m just riding this train and enjoying it.”
That the video shows Apodaca, an Indigenous man, able to just enjoy his life and be himself in such a lighthearted and idiosyncratic way is appealing to a lot of other Indigenous people, Ryan McMahon, an Anishinaabe comedian and media producer from Treaty 3 territory in northwestern Ontario, told The Globe and Mail.
“Through our teachings, we are instructed to live through love, the love of ourselves, each other, our families, our communities, our nations,” McMahon said.
Apodaca told Indigenous outlet Indian Country Today that the top of the feathers on his visible tattoo depicts the flag of the Northern Arapaho, his mother’s tribe. He added that he wants to get a tattoo on the other side of his head to represent his father’s Mexican heritage.
It sounds like Apodaca is enjoying himself, and he’s glad people were able to enjoy the video.
“It’s just a video on TikTok that everyone felt a vibe with,” he told The New York Times. “I’m happy that I could chill the world out for a minute.”