Tags: art/music, culture, inequality, cinema, drugs, mexico, war on drugs, subtitles/CC, 21 to 60 mins
Summary: Film has always been a reflection of our society, and this exploration of Mexican cinema is a reflection of drugs, culture, and inequality in contemporary Mexico. First, it is an interesting look at how art imitates life and life imitates art. Given the huge role of drug trafficking in Mexico today, the video documents the large film industry built around dramatizing these conflicts. Some of the actors and directors discuss working with drug traffickers in producing some of the films, and the danger of not discussing their relationship in order to stay alive. At the 12:40 mark, the video examines how the music, or corridos, act as a living testimony of narco lore, which in turn, continues the legend that gives birth to more Narco Cinema. Furthermore, this genre of film in Mexico has influenced clothing, home, and car purchases. Although the same could be said for U.S. films (and how they act as catalyst for sub-cultures), in Mexico, these films have given birth to the ideals of building and living a lifestyle to reflect that of narco culture. Second, a more subtle message in the video is about the relationship between drug culture and inequality. The films are very popular among low-income and rural Mexicans for both economic and cultural reasons. Narco cinema are relatively cheaply made "B-movies" (often written, produced, and completed in less than a month) that go straight to DVD and are much more affordable for everyday Mexicans. Therefore, they have a wider audience than the more expensive feature films (only 18% of Mexicans can afford to see movies in a theater). The films also appeal to impoverished Mexicans (especially males) or those struggling to get by in the US. Drug traffickers are often portrayed as "Robin Hood" type characters who help out their hometowns and families. The drug traffickers themselves are usually people that come from rural poverty, and those who become successful in the drug business are often celebrated within the films (the video also notes the rumors that some of the films are financed by drug cartels). But as the narrator notes, while drugs and drug culture are often glamorized, the reality of drug trafficking is the uncontrollable levels of violence and death that come as a result of the drug wars. For example, Mexico experienced 5,630 Narco-related "execution murders" in 2008. American viewers might also consider the role of the US and US-Mexico relations in this process. The film ends with the narrator adding "as long as there is a huge demand for drugs in America, there's going to be blood, drugs, and these kinds of movies flowing out of Mexico." Finally, while gender is never discussed in the video, sociologists have much to think about in terms of the role of gender in both Narco Cinema and the production of this video.
Submitted By: JD Villanueva
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