About a week ago, my wife introduced to Netflix. Of course, I knew all about it and was well aware that it was one of the main reasons for killing off the video rental industry and people becoming obese. I miss and loathe it at the same time. I miss going to Titles and then later Apollo, on Hall Green Parade, reading the thousands sypnosises of movies, sometimes trying to launch my 14 year self up to the top shelf to read the Shannon Tweed pervy movies and oogle the perverted cover. I miss going home and watching a movie with the family (not with Shannon Tweed, but my brother once convinced my mum that Robocop was a kids movie causing my then four year old sister years of traumatic stress). I miss standing around and dreaming of being in movies on the video store shelves, then going up to a bemused punter and proudly saying, “I’m in that!” I must say, in my new job, which involves a lot of headline writing and branding, those days of reading synopsises gave me great scope in reading and writing about things not that significant but making them seem amazing. However, I saw a lof of daft movies and feeling fooled by enticing language.
I won’t miss paying a two or three quid for each video and only keeping a day or so. I won’t miss walking there in the cold and dark and rain and snow and trying to unshamedly to convince my mother that movies with names like “Night Lust” might be for kids. “Why has it an 18 certificate with a naked lady on the cover then?” she would say. Suffice to say, she’d learned her lesson through my brother. Gracias hermano!
Netflix. Cheap, easy, great when you want to watch a whichever movie whenever (apart from when the electricity is out, a common occurrence in many areas in Honduras), and against my better wishes, quite an amazing capitalist enterprise. If you like do marathons of television series, you can do it. They do hog TV series quite a lot, which is a pain if you haven’t access to internet and a computer. One such TV series, that has been doing the rounds on social media is Narcos, and it has Pamela and I hooked.
It makes me feel bittersweet to like it. I like it because it is interesting learning about the drug lord Pablo Escobar and his mythical Robin Hood like legend (they say 25,000 mourners went to his funeral) yet this man, like many murderous dictators, seems so charming. I’m sure charm helped him on the road to become the world’s biggest drug lords, but this violent element, like in many gangster movies and TV series, it doesn’t sit well with me. One might say, that was/is how it was/is. However, but does glorification of it really need to be seen? I’m not prude, nor am I scared, but I feel there is a lack of respect for victims, especially as this is a real story, and when I see it on the front page newspapers here (which I’ve written about before and still dislike to this day, the Latin American media culture, using images to cause fear and control of people. I have no proof of it, but I am sure these images urge violence), I feel for the families. This isn’t glory. This is a loss of life. This type media makes us apathethic (no way does it inspire change), yet it somehow builds empathy for a murdering anti-hero. At the same time, my artistic licence says, sod morals, let the world know how it is and get on with it. And this is done in Narcos.
It’s sexed up with Latin fever. It almost has to be. With Colombian women being world renowned for their beauty, as well as women from other Latin American countries, you’d be almost disappointed if it didn’t (saying that, I don’t want to portray women as objects, but appreciating their undeniable natural beauty) and criticise for not taking advantage. Many programmes do throughout the Americas, which is kind of a strange hypocrisy for the culture when you think of how many Latin American countries have a strong Catholic voice (remember too that murder is a mortal sin, which makes you tap your head and wonder. This isn’t a knock on Catholicism or the faith, but more on mortals committing such horrific sins right in front of the church, which they might well have gone to on a weekly basis as a kid). Boobs and arses keep their mystery, while somehow remain flaunted in our faces on an everyday basis. The media is almost like a red-light district in Holland, with women showing their intimates and trying to lure you in. We’re all a sucker for it, no matter your sexual orientation. In the opening credits of Narcos there are bared tanned thighs, underwear tempting passionate affairs, lush red lips on devilishly gorgeous women, beauty queens in tiny bikinis, along with a seductive Latin lullaby floating in the background, and before you’ve got through the first scene, you’ve chomped on the maggot and got a hook through your cheek; yes, this sells sex. I’m not complaining. But just look at for whom this aimed at: America. Any other demographic on top of that is a bonus.
It goes into death about the American involvement in the downfall of Escobar (watching this is like Titantic; you know it all ends in death but you want to see how) and their military missions to kill off Communism, with them looking somewhat like heros (with many incompetences inbetween). To be fair, it is quite critical of America’s Impirialistic control, but you still know who this is aimed at: Americans.
You can tell the show wasn’t made by Colombians. It has caused a bit of a shit storm in the country itself, with criticism about it being just another narco series (there have been a few Latin American based dramas, one in Mexico is based on the wives of drug lords), others laughing at the Colombian accents (Escobar is actually played by the famous Braizilian actor, Wagner Moura (who to be fair is very good) and his wife a Mexican) but also disdain for the representation of Colombian culture, which has tried to make great strides since its turmoil in the 80s and 90s, and is actually now a model for countries struggling with drug trafficking, like Honduras.
So sex and violence and USA is the hero and Latin America gets its name dragged through the mud again, right in the run up in the Republican elections in the US (we all know what they think of Latinos, or as many simply like to refer to as Mexicans). I’m not saying this is propaganda, but the whole show is most unhelpful to the great people of this continent, and why the American mainstream media can’t touch on the great many things about the culture, such as the humour, the magic realism, the football, the literature, the art and the music. It always boils down to portraying Latin America as slutty, corrupt, Communist, dangerous, murderous, etc, while trying to divert struggles in America’s own backyard. The drug problems here are due to America and Europe wanting great supplies of, what is commonly as, the devil’s dandruff. This is touched on in the series, but not enough. I love Latin America. I see great things above the issues, and yet while many are proud of their country, there is still a low esteem to how it is represented around the world. Many people are surprised when I say that I am happy here. I have caught it from the people. My family in the UK did too. America can’t buy their happiness, but they don’t want to portray it either. It disappoints me.
Maybe instead of building walls to off poor immigrants, why not stop siding with Presidents like Juan Orlando who oversee stealing of public funds? Why not help set up proper democracies that don’t repress the poor so they don’t feel the need to go to the USA, leaving families behind?
I’m a self-confessed hypocrite though. It’s entertainment and Pamela and I are at episode 7 and have three more to go.
This is why I feel bittersweet about this series. Share your views.