It all started as a local news story. Early on the morning of July 29th, an intruder broke into a young woman’s apartment in Huntsville, Alabama, and allegedly tried to rape her. Luckily, her brother was spending the night. Hearing her screams he ran to her aide, struggled with the attacker and chased him off. Hours later a news crew showed up to cover the story. The brother unleashed his frustration in a no-holds-barred rant, speaking directly to the camera. “Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband, cause they rapin’ everybody up in here.” With that, an Internet star was born.
24-year old Antoine Dodson’s news clip has been watched millions of times online. Shortly after being posted, a Brooklyn-based musical group known as The Gregory Brothers decided to put his words to music. The “Bed Intruder Song” – as it’s called – catapulted Dodson from viral video sensation to new media phenomenon. The song’s video has been viewed more than 16 million times, making it one of the most successful online videos ever. The single has sold more than 30,000 copies on iTunes, placing it at #35 on their song chart, ahead of Lady Gaga. Dodson gets half of all profits. He’s hired a lawyer and a manager, launched a YouTube channel, a Ustream page, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and started a personal website selling t-shirts emblazoned with his wacky catchphrases, like “We Gon’ Find You”.
In real life, Dodson is very different from the red-bandana clad, ranting persona that made him famous. When we met him, Dodson’s hair was straightened and flowing, his demeanor just as soft and airy.
WATCH OUR INTERVIEW WITH ANTOINE DODSON
Tell us about the attack. What happened?
I woke up to my sister’s screaming. She was screaming so loud but it seemed like they was trying to muffle her or whatever. So I went to her door and I opened the door. When I went in there it was a guy on top of her choking her. So I was like ‘Wow, get off my sister.’ So I snatched him off of her. I’m not going to lie I was terrified but I’m going to protect my family at any cost. I have mad love for my family. I’m a very family oriented type of guy, so family always comes first.
What were you thinking when you did the local news interview?
We still mad and heated. And [the reporter] was like, ‘Do you want to say anything in front of the camera?’ And I was like ‘Yeah, I got a lot to say, because who in they right mind think that they can just come up in somebody else house?’ You know what I’m saying? That’s crazy. So we was angry.
How have things changed since the video went viral?
We did not expect this to happen the way that it did. We didn’t want to be famous and a celebrity for something that happened so serious to somebody that’s close to us. So we did not expect this.
It’s so cool. I get to take model shots. A lot of good opportunities have come. I hate that it happened this way or whatever but a lot of good has came out.
You are planning to use your windfall to move your whole family (Dodson is the oldest of six) to a house in a safer area. Tell us about that.
My sister is terrified to be here. We still struggle with it even to this day. This is a tough situation. Being [in the Lincoln Park projects] is not for us and it’s not for my sister. Being here, she’s not going to sleep at night. It’s best if she goes to another place, another environment. Maybe she can feel comfortable and she can sleep at night. I would like a nice house for all of my brothers and sisters, my mother and my nieces.
Why doyou think people are so drawn to your video and the song?
People are drawn to the story for the simple fact a lot of people that has been assaulted or raped usually are scared to tell. But since we came out and we were so open with it, it was like, wow, this guy and this girl really are strong people because they can actually sit in front of a camera and talk about it without crying or choking up.
How do you respond to critics who say that your video allows people to mock poor blacks?
To me I feel like we’re rich. Whether we live in the projects or under a bridge I feel like we’re rich because we have each other. We have love. That’s wealth. As far as the people saying that people are making jokes about it, laugh about it. We laugh about it too, as far as the video. That’s our way of getting comfort. That has brought a lot of smiles to our family. It’s funny, it is. But always remember that it’s still a serious situation.
You had some pretty choice words for the attacker a month ago. He’s still at large. What would you say to him now?
I want them to continue to hide they people because this idiot is still out there. I would hate for him to go into another family member’s house. Not only my family, any family. I want people to take precautions because this still is a serious matter. Just because we done got famous and all this, that does not mean anything because we are still on our job. We want justice for my family. I definitely want justice for my sister. So you can continue to run, you can continue to hide, but people are still looking for you.