Denton, Texas – The Frackettes, a troupe of community organizers from Denton, have launched a video response to the Texas Legislature’s passage of HB40. This bill is part of an onslaught of legislative efforts to strip Texas municipalities of their local control to regulate oil and gas activity in their communities. Though widely considered to be the response of oil-soaked politicians to the Frack Free Denton movement’s successful campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within city limits, these bills stand to overturn over 300 local ordinances across Texas. As Governor Abbott travels to Denton this weekend as the highly disputed UNT commencement speaker, HB40 awaits his decision in Austin.
The newly released video features a funeral procession with a coffin labeled “Democracy” and a surprise cameo by Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick. The Frackettes sing and dance to a satirical version of the famous musical number ‘Come to the Cabaret,” whose clever lyrics expose the cronyism of the Texas Legislature and its disregard for local democracy.
“Our main goal was to bring a laugh to those who are working so hard to protect their communities from heavy industry in their neighborhoods,” said one of the creators who goes by her Frackette name ‘Shaley Barnett.’ “Our elected officials have gotten so far from actually representing the interests of the people, to the point of overturning their own constituents’ votes. Parody has historically served as a means of putting these officials’ actions into a public forum of accountability.”
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Denton, home to one of the largest music schools in the U.S. (at the University of North Texas), is a hotspot for art and music– and it showed during Frack Free Denton’s hard-fought campaign against the fracking industry’s high-dollar advertisements. Popular local bands played benefit shows, dance professors at Texas Women’s University organized flash mobs, students painted informational displays and set up a mini frack rig on campus – and The Frackettes took time between organizing door-to-door outreach to produce puppet shows and show-tune style parody performances.
The Frackettes began as characters in the educational puppet troupe ‘Puppets for the Planet’. They made their public debut as a stand alone trio at ‘The People’s Climate March’ last September in Ft. Worth, singing ‘Fracking is your town’s best friend’ (their parodied version of ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’). They later opened for local legends Brave Combo at a Frack Free Denton benefit concert. Their message resonated with people aware of the negative effects of fracking, garnering nearly 19,000 views on YouTube. They were featured in an ‘Upworthy’ article praising their creative use of satirical art and theatre to share the living experiences of those whose health and safety are affected daily by fracking.
“During the campaign, we saw the power of a creative community to reach across generations and party lines with a common goal of health and safety. These are the strengths that we will utilize moving forward as our battle turns to protecting local control ” said Frackette Carcin O’Gen.
As Denton moves into graduation weekend with protests planned for Governor Abbot’s speech, The Frackettes hope their video will echo the sentiment in Denton and call attention to the big government overreach of representatives who ran on tickets of ‘small government’. As Frackette Anita Profit stated, “Only something as over-the-top as satire could do justice to this level of hypocrisy.”