Narco Cultura
Since 2006, the drug war in Mexico has claimed at least ten thousand lives. People across the world are familiar with horror stories of random citizens being murdered by narcos. Many people see those responsible for these violent acts as villains, but some view them as romantic figures. This dichotomy manifests itself most prominently in a style of music known as narcocorridos (drug ballads). These catchy polka-inflected songs generally feature violent celebratory lyrics about drug barons. Narco Cultura (2013) is a surreal and tragic documentary that compares and contrasts the lives of people dealing with mass drug terror in Mexico with the lives of musicians who document—and arguably exploit—the terror. Groups like Bukanas de Culiacan and El Komander sell extraordinary number of albums and fill up concert venues all over the U.S. and Mexico. Like gangster rappers from the 1990’s, these musicians embrace the style and swagger of the smugglers. For example, members of Bukanas de Culiacan brandish bazookas on stage. Although it is clear that the musicians are—to some extent—posing, it is also apparent that there are real links between them and narcos. Meanwhile in cities across Mexico, politicians, police, and civilians are under siege. Drug smugglers are brazenly killing anyone who gets in their way. People are randomly kidnapped. If they are seen again, they are likely to have been dismembered, decapitated, or mutilated. Narco ballads are broadcast over police radio channels to intimidate and brag about fresh murders. A website site called Blog Del Narco documents that mayhem by publishing gruesome crime pictures and snuff videos made by the drug gangs. Narco Cultura provides deep and disturbing insights into a subject that seems to have eluded—or perhaps frightened—mainstream American media.