Culture

As Someone Who Grew Up In Colombia This Is Why It’s Really Difficult To Watch ‘Narcos’

It’s Fall again, and while New York City might still feel like Labor Day hasn’t happened yet, a new Fall staple has definitely sunk in, People asking me if I’ve seen “Narcos” yet.

My reaction:

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Credit: Harry Potter / Universal


Yes, Narcos is a very popular show. It is, however, a show that is difficult to watch as a person born in Colombia a few years before Pablo Escobar’s death. The problem is, that while it’s a good show – a show that’s important for Colombians (particularly millennials) to watch and understand – it is, at the same time, a show aimed at a global audience that will never understand it the way Colombians do.

Why is “Narcos” Important?

I was born in 1991. Two years before Pablo Escobar died (spoiler alert!) on a rooftop in Medellín. I lived in Colombia for most of my life, until I moved to the United States in 2013. In the 21 years I lived there, the way I was thought to talk about Pablo was simple: Just say he was a bad man who did many bad things, but those things don’t happen anymore. Oh, and make sure this is what you tell Americans, tourists and anyone that you meet abroad.

This is the mindset most people my age and social background were raised with. Colombian millennials speak of Pablo as wizards spoke of Voldemort in 1997. We heard the murmur of “the dark days”, the days of Pablo. When politicians were murdered, planes were blown up, and rebels took the Palacio de Justicia. These are things that adults speak of under their breath. Things that happened, but to us, seem to have happened in another place. In another country. In another world. This is because we are told to forget about our past. To ignore the painful truth and focus on how well things are going nowadays.

Credit: USAtoday.com

Why watching “Narcos” became a cathartic experience?

I was mad! I was mad at my parents and teachers for hiding the truth. History books don’t talk about it, and unless you take a college class in drug trade or recent Colombian history, you as a Colombian will not know what happened. It’s like we have taken a giant eraser and tried to sloppily fade everything that happened from 1977 to 1993. Yet, Narcos feels authentic. In the opening five minutes, we’re shown an aerial shot of my hometown and my second favorite city in the world (NYC edges this one): Bogotá.

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Credit: Narcos. Netflix

Despite the early criticism of the show casting foreign Latinxs, the show features some of the most talented Colombian actors in a generation, such as Juan Pablo Raba, Manolo Cardona, Cristina Umaña and Martina García. Even lesser known Colombian actors, like radio host-turned-actor Mauricio Cujar. The Colombians are by far the standout performers on the show, but we can’t forget Brazilian actor, Wagner Moura whose performance as Pablo Escobar is electrifying! The scenes between Moura and Raba as Pablo Escobar and his cousin Gustavo Gaviria are, by far, the best scenes in the show.

Mauricio Cujar as the despicable Don Berna (Netflix)
Credit: Narcos / Netflix

So Why is “Narcos” Harmful?

As much good as the show does for Colombia’s film and TV industry, and as good as it is for my generation to understand our past, I understand why “Narcos” is harmful.

Picture this: You break up with your abusive ex and takes you 10 years to get over that person. Everyone disapproved of your decisions when you were together. Now, you’re finally getting yourself back together, you’ve found new hobbies, you’ve become more positive… overall your much better! Then all of a sudden, a friend starts showing you pictures of your ex and telling everyone how great he was, which makes everyone remember how big of a mess you were. They assume you’re still in that sloppy phase even though you’ve made a ton of personal growth. You could tell them how much better you’re doing now, but they’d rather just hear about it from that person who won’t shut up about your evil ex. In this scenario, you’re Colombia, Pablo Escobar is your evil ex, and Netflix and “Narcos” is that friend who can’t shut up about Pablo. Leaving you feeling basically like this:

Giphy/Disney
Credit: The Hunchback of Notredame. Disney.


Colombia doing well is great for Colombia, but bad for Hollywood. It’s just not a great story. No one wants to hear about biodiversity or the Peace Process that will end the longest armed conflict in the Americas, because that doesn’t fit the narrative they are selling to the United States. A narrative of barbaric brown people and white saviors. A narrative where Latin America remains a barbaric and underdeveloped region. And more importantly, a narrative where drugs are our problem. Where the “demand” part of “supply and demand” doesn’t count.

“Narcos,” and most American TV dramas in general, can be summed up in this one Game of Thrones scene:

Giphy/HBO
Credit: Game of Thrones / HBO

The White Savior Syndrome, in which a white person is being heralded as a god by thousands of brown people. Particularly in drug shows, white heroes tend to fend off the brown monsters that are the drug dealers. Breaking Bad, which has often been called the best show in the history of TV is the number one offender. Narcos attempts to appease Latinx viewers by giving us nuggets of “woke-ness.” There are scenes where they show the debauchery and hypocrisy of American drug consumers and scenes where they show the true stories of the CIA partnering up and funding murderers in Colombia in their fight against Pablo. A fight guided more by results than the desire of a peaceful Colombia. However, these scenes are treated as afterthoughts. 

This is where the show becomes a double-edged sword. It tells a story Colombians need to know to face the past and improve our future. But it also reinforces the Colombian stereotype in the minds of those outsiders. Suddenly, Americans are more likely to ask me when was the last time there was a car bomb in Colombia, rather than ask how many Colombian lives were lost for a gram of Colombian cocaine. Narcos tells the story of modern-day Colombia which American audiences are ignoring as they rather focus on just the Hollywood stuff. And who can blame them? The Hollywood stuff is fun. It’s such a compelling story.

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Credit: Hollywood Sign.org


Despite all this, I stand by my belief that Narcos is an important show for Colombia, and I will continue to watch it and encourage as many Colombians to watch it, too. I will also try to tell my American friends to read between the lines when they watch it.

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Credit: Narcos / Netflix

READ: Pablo Escobar’s Brother Sent Netflix A ‘Friendly’ Letter Re: ‘Narcos’

What do you think about “Narcos”? Let us know and don’t forget to hit that share button.

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Daisy Coleman, The High School Sexual Assault Survivor Featured In A Netflix Documentary, Has Died By Suicide

Fierce

Daisy Coleman, The High School Sexual Assault Survivor Featured In A Netflix Documentary, Has Died By Suicide

Netflix

In 2016, Netflix debuted the heartwrenching documentary Audrie & Daisy a film that examined the tragic experiences of two high school students. Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman were two teens at the time of their sexual assaults. Both women were subjected to cyberbullying and abuse after their assaults and forced to heal with little support. But soon after her assault, Audrie Pott was driven to suicide by hanging.

The film showed that Coleman also struggled with suicide ideation after the assault.

Four years after the film’s debut, Coleman (who had become a sexual assault victim advocate) has died by suicide.

In a post to her Facebook page on Tuesday, Coleman’s mother shared the news: “My daughter Catherine Daisy Coleman committed suicide tonight,” Melinda Coleman wrote. “If you saw crazy messages and posts it was because I called the police to check on her. She was my best friend and amazing daughter. I think she had to make it seem like I could live without her. I can’t. I wish I could have taken the pain from her! She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.”

At the time of her assault, Coleman was 14 years old. She was sexually assaulted by a high schooler named Matthew Barnett and was dumped outside of her home wearing only a T-shirt in the dead of winter. The documentary film said Coleman had been left behind in sub-freezing temperatures and that her hair had stuck to the ground.

Barnett was eventually subjected to a felony sexual assault charge for what he did to Coleman but the charge was later dropped.

After, Coleman became a target for bullying.

Filmmakers followed Coleman for two years watching the ways in which Coleman and members of her family were subjected to the trauma of her assault.

“I definitely feel like people have certain views and perceptions about me and about cases like this because they’re uneducated,” then-19-year-old Coleman told People in a 2017 interview. “That’s exactly why I’m going out and trying to educate people on what’s going on in our society.”

Speaking about her experience, Coleman said that she didn’t hold any animosity against her attacker. “I honestly don’t have any vindictive feelings toward him,” Coleman told People. “I feel like all of that negativity that he put onto me was passed down to him at one point, so I felt the need to stop that kind of transaction of negativity and hate… I went through a lot of years of self-loathing and asking myself, Why me? So much ‘woe is me’… I just decided one day that I was done being negative about it. I needed to forgive myself for what happened.”

In 2017, Coleman worked to help others from being subjected to sexual violence for the national campaign SafeBAE — Safe Before Anyone Else.

If you or someone you know might be considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

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Netflix Is Bringing Back Seven Classic Black Sitcoms And They’re Already On My Binge List

Entertainment

Netflix Is Bringing Back Seven Classic Black Sitcoms And They’re Already On My Binge List

StrongBlackLead / Netflix

Netflix has seriously upped its streaming game in the past few months. While 2020 rages on with all of its drama and chaos and heartache, at least Netflix is giving us all some much-needed distraction and entertainment.

The streaming giant already has a fairly large library of amazing Black content for us to binge to our heart’s content, but they’ve just outdone themselves with a brand new slate of some of the best classic Black sitcoms ever made.

With a tweet from the streaming giant’s Twitter account @StrongBlackLead, it was announced that seven hit Black shows from the ’90s and 2000s are hitting Netflix throughout August, September, and October.

Netflix will be adding seven hit Black shows to their lineup and the Internet just can’t handle the news.

Yup, you read that right. Shows we used to watch on networks like UPN, the WB, and BET like Sister, Sister, The GameGirlfriends, and The Parkers will all now be available in once place. Finally. And as if this news wasn’t already enough, Netflix’s @StrongBlackLead also premiered a video celebrating the big announcement with literally all of our favorites: Cue Tracee Ellis Ross, Essence Atkins, Jackée Harry, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Tia and Tamera Mowry, and more making us cry with their collective greatness.

Of course, fans could not handle it, and within minutes of the big announcement Moesha and Girlfriends was trending on Twitter.

“Netflix is finally streaming MoeshaThe GameSister SisterGirlfriends and The Parkers starting from next month. seems like the second half of 2020 won’t be bad after all,” wrote one user.

Here’s a roundup of what we have to look forward to in the next couple of months:

Moesha

Brandy (yes, that Brandy!) playing a high-school student in LA facing very real issues including friend with teen pregnancies, racism, trouble at home – this show had it all and it honestly helped me grow and mature as a kid.

Moesha ran for six seasons on UPN (which IMO was one of the most underrated networks!) and went on to become the biggest success for the relatively new network. Bernie Mack and Usher were frequently recurring guest stars on the show and you never knew who else might back a guest appearance.

Sister, Sister

Tia and Tamera Mowry are identical twin sisters who just happen to reunite in a chance enounter. That’s the opening premise of this next-level show, Sister, Sister. But it’s so much more than that. Everyone from the Olsen twins to RuPaul and Tyrese made guest appearances on this show and I lived for every moment.

In January 2018, a revival of Sister, Sister was confirmed and is currently in the works but as of 2020 it is currently unknown when or if the revival will happen.

Girlfriends

One of the longest-running Black-led TV series, Girlfriends was on the CW for a full eight seasons and won numerous awards. Comprised of an ensemble cast led by Tracee Ellis Ross the show featured major talent in guest appearances including Big Boi, Common, Kelly Rowland, Idris Elba, and Erykah Badu.

The Parkers

A hilarious spin-off from the equally hilarious Moesha, this show had it all! Another show on UPN, The Parkers ran for five seasons and had some big name talent in the likes of Mo’Nique and Countness Vaughn.

And for all you Angelenos, the show is largely centered around Santa Monica College which so many of us went to.

Half & Half

Set in San Francisco, Half & Half aired on the UPN for four seasons and follows the lives of two half-sisters who were completely separated for most of their lives but then come back together. Michelle Williams and Essence Atkins were two of the major stars on the show which went on to be nominated for several awards in each of it’s four seasons.

One on One

One of the hit shows from the UPN network, One on One was on the air for five seasons and took place in Baltimore (and LA in the final season). Everyone from Lil Zane to Chris Brown, Eve, Solange Knowles, Lil Kim, Smokey Robinson, and Lisa Leslie made an appearance on this show – it was fire!

And that theme song, ‘Living One on One’, ughh so good!

Since the murder of George Floyd and the widespread Black Lives Matter movement, Netflix has added a new addition to its platform called “Black Lives Matter.” The new platform is home to all the movies about Black communities, celebrities’ topics, etc. with movies like Moonlight and documentaries like Becoming. Hopefully, with the release of these popular Black sitcoms, more may be added to Netflix like MartinLiving Single, and Fresh Prince.

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