Author: Justin Mckibben
Ever since August 28, 2015 anyone and everyone seems to have something to say about Narcos, the new hit series that debuted on Netflix and has a monumental momentum that has not stopped since. The show has been talked about on practically every channel, has flooded all Facebook (not to mention other social media) news feeds, and has become a centerpiece of conversation in every medium.
Even the people who have never seen a single episode have chattered about how the plot must be well worth the hype, and everyone else eagerly awaits a second gripping and climactic season.
So why has Narcos taken over, and what hidden truths of the drug trade can we learn from it?
Narcos is an American drug trafficking crime drama television series that was created by various talented writers and producers, including:
- Chris Brancato
- Carlo Bernard
- Doug Miro
Narcos has Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha in the captains seat, and thus far he appears to have done a great deal of justice to the material.
This uniquely epic is so far a 10 installment long episodic portrayal of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel has a thrilling way of packing a serious punch, while also entangling the tales of United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents.
Narcos unravels a dramatic reenactment of the real life events surrounding of the progression and expansion of cocaine drug cartels across the globe, while highlighting law enforcement efforts to bring it all crashing down. Wagner Moura stars as notorious Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, with plenty of blood and brutality to go around.
True Narco Cinema
The series is set during the 1980s Colombian drug war, but it’s more generally about the myths that drug lords, politicians, and cops tell the communities they serve, which has historically been a way they preserve their power; feeding into the fear and mythology that surround them.
Narcos producers call this “magical realism,” but it is actually an old Latin American genre of a storytelling tradition called “narco cinema,” comprised entirely of B-movies about the drug trade. Narco cinema works its own magic through a deeply romanticizing the power and violence of drug lords; turning cops into villains, drug kingpins into underdogs turned heroes, and beauty queens into narcos.
Underneath all this, Narco cinema skillfully exposes the weaknesses and corruption of government systems that have allowed the cartels to infect them and take advantage of the people, which is a clever way to show the truth of how cocaine and cocaine traffickers like those on Narcos have devastated the lives of those around them.
Many people who have made a habit and even a living of dissecting and evaluating films and media have praised the series, and one thing many have pointed out is even though the show has bent the truth a bit to make for more entertaining television, it may more accurately portray the uglier, more sinister side to the reality of drug cartels.
Narcos has been valued by many as the first American production in the true narco-cinematic legacy. Unlike most American depictions of the drug trade, Narcos manages to glamorize its protagonists while still revealing the disturbing structural problems they are working within, exposing the world to the key dynamics in the real life drug wars; specifically the way drug lords and corrupt cops and DEA agents mold their own myths and do everything in their power to instill those terrifying yet empowering legends about them in order to preserve their power over the people.
Drug lords oppress the people, they terrorize communities and they destroy lives across the board. Yet because they are made into these grandiose legends of rags to riches through overcoming injustice, they are idolized. What Narcos has done in the eyes of many is it has continued to stroke the ego of the drug lord just enough, while trying to show the viewer just how disturbing and tragically wicked the world of the drug dealer can be. It is not all fun and games, not all a hero’s journey. It is a twisted and ugly world, and the hidden truth they try to display is that the legend is more important to the drug lord than the truth, because the truth is a lot uglier and a lot less heroic than the stories they tell about themselves.
Along with dramatic series about drug abuse and drug trafficking, Netflix also features some excellent drug documentaries that may also give you insight into how substance abuse and addiction destroys lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
This little bit on controversy about whether it is appropriate for a toy store to carry a drug dealing, gun toting, cancer patient action figure or not, and in all honesty is seems like both sides got somewhat of a point. The toy gold mine, the paradise for children and immature adults alike that is the Toys “R” Us company has been criticized recently by factions of parents for selling a range of Walter White drug dealer dolls based on the television series Breaking Bad, possibly one of the greatest shows of ever.
What’s the Big Deal?
These six-inch figures as of right now sell for $17.99, even though soon they will probably be a collector’s item. The action figure portrays the Breaking Bad main character Walter White (AKA Heisenberg) portrayed by Brian Cranston, a notorious drug dealer, in three different variations. One is even clutching a gun with a detachable bag of cash and blue rocks of the drug crystal meth.
Another form of the action figure is dressed in a Hazmat protective suit. The dolls are being sold as part of a deal with Sony Pictures Television, in Toys “R” Us’s “collectable” selection, and are intended to be marketing to adults and children over than 14 years old.
Why is Breaking Bad so…Bad?
What is Breaking Bad? I’m almost insulted if anyone really has to ask that question, but I’ll answer it anyway. It is the insanely popular TV drama series based on a high school chemistry teacher Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, who after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, goes into business with a former student. The student Jesse Pinkham is portrayed by Aaron Paul, and together the two begin producing and selling the dangerous and deadly crystal meth in order to make money for his family before Walter White eventually dies from his illness.
The series ended last year, despite my angry letters and bribes to the studios, and has won a stock-pile of Emmys and other awards, but what is part of the controversy is that Breaking Bad is known for its intense dramatic plot and sometimes shockingly violent scenes.
Mothers Move on the One Who Knocks
In spite of the age range being marketed at over 14 years old, parents took to action on the Toys “R” Us Facebook page to say that they did not want their teenagers, even at 15 years old, to be exposed to drug dealing.
And as more and more of these such complaints piled on, now one furious Fort Myers mother named Susan Schrivjer has established an online petition on the website Change.org called “Remove Breaking Bad dolls from their shelves” urging Toys “R” Us to act and get rid of these new action figures, which states:
“Toys “R” Us is well known around the world for their vast selection of toys for children of all ages. However their decision to sell a Breaking Bad doll, complete with a detachable sack of cash and a bag of meth, alongside children’s toys is a dangerous deviation from their family friendly values. That’s why I’m calling on Toys “R” Us to immediately stop selling theBreaking Bad doll collection in their stores and on their website.”
Surprisingly, the petition has started to gain momentum almost as fast as the show did after season 2, having already received more than 2,300 signatures! Mrs. Schrivjer went on to make a personal statement:
“While the show may be compelling viewing for adults, its violent content and celebration of the drug trade make this collection unsuitable to be sold alongside Barbie dolls and Disney characters.
“Parents and grandparents around the world shop at Toys R Us, online and in stories, with their children and should not be forced to explain why a certain toy comes with a bag of highly dangerous and illegal drugs or why someone who sells those drugs deserves to be made into an action figure.”
The biggest argument at this point being that because the item is sold in the same building as children’s toy heroes like Batman or My Little Pony and that seems to taint some peoples view of the Toys “R” Us empire.
Breaking Bad Strikes Back
A Toys “R” Us spokesman told NBC News:
“The product packaging clearly notes that the items are intended for ages 15 and up. The toys are located in the adult action figure area of our stores.”
Bryan Cranston, upset by the crusade that the Florida mom had taken up against his character and the product he put so much talent into, took to Twitter today and responded to these scandalous accusations in what was at the very least a comical retort. The Twitter post shows why Heisenberg IS THE DANGER, as he stated:
“Florida mom petitions against Toys ‘R Us over Breaking Bad action figures.” I’m so mad, I’m burning my Florida Mom action figure in protest
Like most of these types of controversies it starts to border between what is the company responsible for, and what are PARENTS responsible for? The general idea being that no child should know who the characters are enough to go looking for the doll, and if they do, than that starts at home with what they are allowed to watch on television.
At the same time you have to wonder is it OK for there to be tiny toy bags of crystal meth, a dangerous and devastating drug that destroys the lives of everyone it touches, mixed in with toy-boxes across America? Is it promoting the production and use of drugs to a younger demographic? We do have to be aware of these possibilities, and be aware of the consequences that can arise from letting children be exposed to the idea that drugs are exciting, popular, and acceptable. Crystal meth is nothing to play around with, and Breaking Bad gave us 5 seasons to prove it.
I think at the end of the day, it is up to the parents. Parents need to be aware of what their kids are watching, and what their kids are doing. I’m sure no 10 year old will be able to purchase the doll on their own or make any sense out of it, and for teens around the age of 14 there should already be some work done at home to help them understand. Walter White will tell you, if you don’t know who you’re dealing with, tread lightly.
Regardless of whether you take it seriously or not, having an action figure of a drug dealer that could be charged with possession seems like it should be kept out of reach of children, and maybe anyone in recovery who considers toys a trigger. All jokes aside though, the reality of drug addiction is nothing to play around with. Crystal meth is a poisonous and powerful drug, and it eats away at the person, their mind, and their life. But no matter how long the battle or how strong the drug, recovery is possible, and even more incredible. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.