What really annoys me about Narcos, by Oisin Fagan

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What annoys me about the Netflix TV show, Narcos, is not that, like some marriage between Uncle Sam and King Midas, everything Narcos touches turns to Gringo, or that the DEA agent is undercover in Columbia having no Spanish, or that Pablo Escobar is clearly played by someone who can’t speak Spanish, or that we should care about the protagonist’s blonde wife because she just wants to help the little brown children, or that the only message that big budget U.S productions can boringly convey in series after series and film after film is that moral relativism is justifiable as long as you work for the interests of the American state (see Dirty Harry, Vigilante, Death Wish, Lethal Weapon, The Untouchables, Gangster Squad, Zero Dark Thirty, The Dark Knight, etc. the list doesn’t end) so as to justify torture, murder, undue process and the subjugation of two continents overseen by the canine fawning of the other two; and I’m not even annoyed by the fact that Narcos is fucking shit and that it took the most insane story of the last half-century and turned it into a series of a hundred filmic, moral clichés an episode narrated by the most bland American in the history of that country, a man who can only sprout ole homegrown truths whenever he collaborates with and perpetuates the extreme violence he is against, (though this seems to be factual: the real-life counterpart to protagonist DEA Steve Murphy, who is a genuine, decent lad, had these profound words to say about his onscreen counterpart: “My language is not the best, but I’ve never dropped that many F-bombs on anybody.”); and I don’t even think that it’s opportunistic to make an action series for a European-American audience giving no agency or feeling to the countless victims of this (ongoing) transcontinental violence, although it is possible that making a bad series about this may be insulting because it makes us not care by placing so much seething, real life and horror into used up classic American narrative paradigms: what really annoys me about Narcos is that in the 80’s in all the urban nightclubs, all these immensely powerful, young drug dealers with their piles of cocaine and prostitutes and silk shirts in the 80’s in Columbia, all mad off their heads on drugs, are only listening to Mexican Mariachi music played by guys in sombreros and charro gear with maracas and acoustic guitars, in the 80’s, in urban nightclubs, in Columbia.

Oisin Fagan

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