A man in his late 30s is coasting down a highway, filming himself with his phone in one hand, a gallon jug of “cran-raspberry” Ocean Spray in the other. The familiar opening refrain of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams plays as the man takes a swig of his drink. He casts a furtive glance over his shoulder, back at the road, and just as the high note hits, he bursts into an impassioned performance, lip-synching the lyrics as the day breaks and the sky stretches along the road behind him: “It’s only right that you should play the way you feel it”.
This 25-second TikTok video, now viewed more than 70 million times, was shared on 25 September 2020 by user @420doggface208, also known as 37-year-old Nathan Apodaca, or “doggface” to his friends. Tagged with #happyhippie and #worldpeace, Apodaca captured an idyllic private moment that resonated widely: those transcendental times you find yourself alone with your favourite tune, soaring above reality. The fact Apodaca himself seems to be flying as he moves seamlessly on his longboard heightens the emotive power of the video—and epitomises “chill”. It is possibly the most uplifting thing to emerge from internet culture this year, one that’s been one of the darkest in recent history.
“Apodaca captured an idyllic private moment that resonated widely: those transcendental times you find yourself alone with your favourite tune”
Commentators have called it the “purest thing on the internet”, and decried that “it’s what we need right now”. It is the innocence and simplicity that strikes, and the fact that Apodaca flips expectations and prejudice. Apodaca has a tattoo on his scalp (a feather representing his Mother’s Native American tribe) and wears a hoodie; he’s skating with both hands occupied next to a road; is a crazy, dangerous stunt about to happen? This is social media after all, where shock and stupidity prevails. This is neither. As Apodaca dips down and mouths Fleetwood Mac’s words it is unchoreographed euphoria, and the viewer is stunned in an entirely different way. In a cynical world we aren’t used to genuine optimism. The effect is liberating; as the song goes, “when the rain washes you clean you’ll know”.
@420doggface208Morning vibe #420souljahz #ec #feelinggood #h2o #cloud9 #happyhippie #worldpeace #king #peaceup #merch #tacos #waterislife #high #morning #710 #cloud9♬ Dreams (2004 Remaster) – Fleetwood Mac
The story behind the video emerged soon after it went viral: Apodoca, who is Native American with Mexican heritage, lives in an RV in Idaho Falls, where he works shifts of up to 16 hours in a potato factory. He was on his way to work when his car broke down yet again. What happened next is the contemporary American dream and was life-changing for the father of two: over the course of one day he found himself the new star of social media; the following week, Ocean Spray responded by sending him a brand new truck. He received more than $15,000 in donations from fans and his own line of doggface merchandise has made more than $30,000. He has since got engaged in Vegas, and is now able to pay a down payment on a house. Fleetwood Mac founding member Mick Fleetwood—finding their song from more than four decades ago suddenly back in the Billboard charts—even opened a TikTok account in order to post his own Dreams video as part of the challenge Apodoca inspired. “It makes people smile, and I’m so happy to be part of it,” Fleetwood said.
“It is possibly the most uplifting thing to emerge from internet culture this year, one that’s been one of the darkest in recent history”
As some observers online noted, Apodaca’s story is also one of the hardship of modern life in the US today, where many struggle to make ends meet, in a system that leaves many disenfranchised and without welfare support for their families. And in the face of that difficulty, Apodaca, a working class, minority ethnic man, represents resilience—and the magnanimous desire to make others smile. Corporations might have tried to capitalise on the story but this TikTok really matters because he reminded us, in 25 seconds, of what it means to be human and free. As Apodaca himself put it in an interview with the New York Times: “It’s just a video on TikTok that everyone felt a vibe with. I’m happy that I could chill the world out for a minute.”