A plethora of viewers around the globe fell in love with the Netflix-produced series about the astonishing career of the king of cocaine – Pablo Escobar. The first season portrayed the story of Pablo as an example of from rags to riches, but the fans didn’t see the entire fall then – the second season took time to reveal step by step the drug empire turn into ashes. Did it work out?
At the moment of becoming acquainted with Narcos, my knowledge regarding Pablo Escobar’s figure was rather dim. Scraps of the information has sketched a highly divisive silhouette – mustached moneybags taken from the Forbes magazine had his strong backup in the Colombian favelas, blinded by his fooling generosity and an army of ardent opponents, who wished to see his head on a plate. I’ve also heard about the barrels filled with money that Pablo has hid in the ground all around the Colombian terrains, as well as about the murders, kidnappings and all other atrocities he committed. Yet, it was Narcos that out of this chaotically gathered stories and hearsays, Pablo’s life became a full-bodied tale – a tale of a devil in human skin.
The Colombian druglord’s story took by storm numerous fans all around the world. According to the data referring to the second season of the show, Narcos constituted 17% of the global viewership of the series airing this year at Netflix. What comes next are the PR activities that helped to boost the series. A model Facebook site of Narcos could be referral to beginners in the business, as the promotional campaigns gathered a spectacular number of almost 3 million likes. Even this year revelation Stranger Things didn’t manage to gain more on its own fanpage. Thus, even though the Mephistophelian antagonist is not returning anymore, Netflix boldly signed up for season 3, green-lighting an opportunity for season 4. And to give it a required comparison, the same Netflix has recently cut the deal with the creators of Bloodline, announcing that the season 3 will be the last – the very same Bloodline, which gave 4 nominations totally to Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn, with one award to Mendelsohn included.
Nonetheless, there are two sides of the popularity of Narcos, with the second one being more socially and psychologically backgrounded. Portraying criminals, thieves and all kinds of bad guys as the heroes of their own stories is a common sin of the cinema. But there should be some borders. And whilst I whole-heartedly loved the first season of Narcos, I found it disturbingly crossing those barriers. Pablo Escobar is represented as a cult figure – compellingly fascinating, temptingly brutal and imposing like Don Corleone. It’s a mixture of a charismatic brute, loving father and a crazy dreamer in one, but don’t expect that the number one is at any advantage here. His path to the glory was a gripping story to follow, during which Pablo’s arrogance and self-confidence was sometimes hard to be believed in. It is so mainly due to Wagner Moura’s poignant performance, who apart from learning Spanish essentially to play Escobar (which could be heard), did a truly tremendous job. But due to that, all of a sudden Pablo Escobar is no longer the disgusting terrorist he really was – he is the star of the show, that the viewers crave to see:
In this peculiar war over the audience’s sympathy for the devil, little help was brought by the duo of American agents. Neither Boyd Holdbrook as a bit withdrawn Murphy, nor Pedro Pascal as the rascally agent Pena couldn’t attract more attention and get round the audience. Supposedly it was all on purpose – to place the good guys in the shadow and let the viewers see the devil in Pablo in full moon. If so, they never managed to turn the tables and instead, the theory about the love for the bad guys was proven. Again.
So where do we find this worrying tendency to stand on the bad guys’ side? What if we called it an unhealthy symptom of a pathological urge to rebel against the system at all costs? Maybe we want to show that we put more interest in the story of a criminal than in the cops chasing him. Because, being honest with our consciousness, we would love to understand him, his surroundings, see as his last breath flies away, accompanied by pompous music. What’s more, in case of Escobar comes another dimension – power. This blinding reach for it has been somehow intriguing people for ages. Especially that only a sprinkling of us is given the chance to taste the taste of power – the ones that jostle the most. And what other person than Pablo Escobar represents a Machiavellian pursuit after power?
Some may find my concerns out of the blue, thus purely a speculation. It is obviously just a TV series, more or less loyal to the bare facts. Furthermore, no matter how fascinating Wagner Moura really was as Escobar, we still should bear in my mind the truth. And the truth is that hundreds if not thousands died accordingly to his orders, whilst his criminal activities resulted in America’s drug flood, opening of new markets to cocaine and thus creating new distribution lines. And it’s nothing to admire, right?
Don’t get me wrong – I found the second season in many elements bedazzling, sketching a much more disturbing and horrifying picture of the Colombian druglord. Yet, the problem remains – Pablo is way too fascinating to many. A man confident about himself, manipulative, but mainly a man, who reached out for everything he wanted. And this always is impressive – just take a good look at equally self-centered and arrogant Donald Trump, who garnered numbers of followers too. Hence, whilst I admire Narcos, at the same time I am terrified by it. Especially in the world, where violence is no longer criticized and fought with, but often becomes something to pass to others on Youtube.