Narcos, Proffering Real Stereotypes in the form of the Docudrama
The cultural industries have commodified the stereotypical image of Pablo Escobar in the twenty-first century. Its latest mediation has been through Netflix’s original series Narcos. However, before this global mediation, the proliferation of the narco thematic had already invited many to discuss its social signification among the popular cultures and the objectiveness of its representation of the complex historical issue that was the production and trafficking of cocaine in Colombia. Terms such as ‘narco aesthetic,’ ‘narco.olombia,’ 'narco audience’ and ‘narco culture’ emerged from the discussions on the rapid dissemination of the narco thematic across different cultural products. These terms reflect the various attempts at understanding the meaning of the cultural revolution that brought the narco from the margins to the center. Most recently, we have witnessed the proliferation of an array of cultural products that mediate the story of Pablo Escobar from various perspectives, such as, journalistic research, telenovelas, and even personal accounts from his family, hitmen, and lovers. Contrary to the sea of narco cultural products that position Pablo Escobar as the main protagonist of the story about the illegal trade of narcotics, Netflix’s original series Narcos, tells an American vision of the story of the famous drug lord’s rise and fall and the involvement of the Drug Enforcement Agency in his persecution. Moreover, Narcos also stands out as the only global online series employing the form of the docudrama. This new way of representing the story of Pablo Escobar, both on a visual and narrative level, proposes many questions in regards to the solidly established stereotypical image of the drug lord in popular culture. Scholars of the docudrama form argue that this is a method of argument that relies on the tight connection it constructs between data and claims, thus becoming a useful tool for ideological reinforcement. Departing from this notion of the docudrama as an ideological tool, I will illustrate how the series employs the stereotypical image of Pablo Escobar to naturalize the discourse on ‘the war on drugs’. I will do this by examining Narcos’ amalgamation of documentary and drama conventions as a persuasive strategy to close the gap between data and claim to proffer an argument that appropriates the narrative of Pablo Escobar, readapts it, and reproduces it for a global audience.
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