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’

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The Teaser Is Out For Season 3 Of Cobra Kai And OMG I Want To Take Karate Lessons

Entertainment

The Teaser Is Out For Season 3 Of Cobra Kai And OMG I Want To Take Karate Lessons

Netflix / YouTube

Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” is continuing the epic story of Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. The story now follows the two men as they train the fighters in their own dojos. The Netflix original series is coming back to for season 3 and, honestly, thank you, Netflix.

“Cobra Kai” season 3 is coming soon to Netflix soon and it’s about time.

Season 2 left us with a serious cliff hanger. A melee fight broke out at the high school between Cobra Kai and Miyagi Do. The fight, which was started by Samantha LaRusso and Tory Schwarber, took a shocking turn when Miguel Diaz gets knocked over a railing and falls to onto a staircase. Miguel fell onto the staircase below after being kicked by Robby Keene. Everyone was stunned when they saw Miguel fall and Robby immediately regretted his involvement.

Season 3 of “Cobra Kai” is coming to Netflix Jan. 8, 2021 and they are already renewed for a fourth season.

There is so much excitement around a new season of “Cobra Kai.” The show is bridging a generational gap between people who grew up with “Karate Kid” and those just discovering it through the Netflix show. “Karate Kid” spawned multiple sequels and made karate super cool, obvi. The latest iteration of the franchise puts a Latino, Miguel, in the main spotlight.

Young Latinos are loving the representation they get from Miguel as a main character.

There are issues with Miguel throughout the show that makes for frustrating moments. However, he is a teenager and we all know what it is like to be a teenager and just not get things. He is led by his emotions and, in classic movie teenage angst, finds himself becoming deeply committed to something to release his emotional frustrations.

Also, it continues to push the narrative that representation matters because it does.

It cannot be stressed enough how much people are loving this show.

“Cobra Kai” was a major show when it was first streaming. The Nielsen rating showed that “Cobra Kai” was second in the numbers of streams after its Netflix debut. The show began on YouTube Red (now YouTube Premium) but moved to Netflix because YouTube changed their strategy. The video-sharing platform is focusing more on content producers and less on creating scripted shows.

The move to Netflix brought the show to the forefront of entertainment as it hit number 1 for the streaming giant.

Binge watching television is what most people are doing as we sit in isolation in our apartments and homes. That kind of prolonged isolation has given people a chance to reconnect with their streaming options and dive into the content that is out there.

This show might be creating a new generation of karate enthusiasts.

If you’ve seen “Cobra Kai” then you know how exciting the idea of karate can be. Maybe the show being on Netflix will bring renewed interest to the sport. Who doesn’t want to be part of a dojo with other fighters who are ready to have you back?

READ: Netflix Finally Gave Us The Release Date For “Selena: The Series” And Fans Can’t Wait

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Netflix’s ‘Vampires Vs. The Bronx’ Takes A Horror-Comedy Approach To Gentrification

Entertainment

Netflix’s ‘Vampires Vs. The Bronx’ Takes A Horror-Comedy Approach To Gentrification

Netflix / YouTube

Netflix has been making the content we have all been waiting for and the latest hit is “Vampires Vs. The Bronx.” The movie is a new way to tell the narrative of gentrification through the lens of family-friendly horror. Netflix viewers are clearly loving the movie and some want to see it make history.

It’s hard to tell who is the biggest danger in “Vampires Vs. The Bronx.”

The comedy-horror was directed by Osmany Rodriguez who is the mastermind behind some of the funniest moments of “Saturday Night Live.” Basically, all of the 2016 election sketches with Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon are thanks to Rodriguez and his directing prowess.

Rodriguez brings his same comedic look on the darker issues to this movie where vampires, gentrifiers, and gangsters are overwhelming the Bronx. Yet, despite all of the obvious dangers out there, it is hard to figure out who the real threat to safety is.

First off, people were here for the way to real cultural moments.

Like, okay. We all know that Timbs are a thing in the Bronx. They are a cultural icon of the neighborhood and to see them used as a weapon in “Vampires Vs. The Bronx” was just *chef’s kiss*. Tbh, it was the kind of reaction you could feel in your soul as our communities are still actively fighting against rampant gentrification in our neighborhoods.

The trailer shows a group of boys trying to exist in their neighborhood as the ultimate turf war begins between the three factions. White people with canvas bags, insanely evil vampires, and the stereotypical gangsters are out in full force in this relevant and quickly beloved movie.

Rodriguez did what most filmmakers should: he talked to people in the Bronx.

Rodriguez didn’t shy away from learning what the people had to say about what was happening to their neighborhood. The most common complaint and observation he heard from people in Washington Heights and the Bronx was that gentrification was really taking a negative toll on the communities.

According to an interview with The Daily Beast, Rodriguez learned from Bronx and Washington Heights residents that gentrification was killing the souls of the two Latino neighborhoods. The same can be seen in Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, a Mexican and immigrant neighborhood.

People on social media cannot hype up the movie enough.

Fans of the movie appreciate the balance the movie has been able to strike when telling the story of gentrification. Also, the addition of vampires that seem to be just as horrible is a comical relief that communities impacted by gentrification seem to welcome. Rodriguez wanted to intentionally flip the narrative of gentrification making neighborhoods better and instead show that the neighborhoods are strong and vibrant with their own communities.

The movie has been compared to classics, like “Dracula.”

“Vampires Vs. The Bronx” is a clear commentary on the current class struggles happening in communities of color across the country. Much like the 1931 film “Dracula,” the narrative painted by the Netflix movie is poignant look at what is happening in the world.

“Dracula” was seen as a capitalist’s nightmare with the vampire representing the dead labor. That dead labor, which is the relentless work under capitalism, can only survive by draining the life out of the living to keep itself thriving.

It is clear that Netflix and Rodriguez gave their fans exactly what they wanted out of “Vampires Vs. The Bronx.”

People are more than fans. The movie has become a cultural entertainment moment for the communities represented in the film. This kind of representation is amazing. Afro-Latino talent is front and center in the film as the heroes and that is something we can all celebrate. Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Black actors delivered a performance that is resonating far beyond the Netflix-universe.

“Vampires Vs. The Bronx” is currently streaming on Netflix so you can watch it now.

READ: Netflix Finally Gave Us The Release Date For “Selena: The Series” And Fans Can’t Wait

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