The Story Of Pablo Escobar Through A White Man's Lens Is A Big Problem

Anglo writers are still doing a disservice to Latinx narratives. 

Hollywood absolutely adores drug lord films. From City of God to Scarface, casting Latinx actors as ruthless, materialistic, villainous killing machines determined to maintain multibillion dollar narcotic empires remains an age-old favorite of mainstream television and film writers, leaving their characters devoid of multifaceted human complexity. According to Caitlin Cruz at Fusion, that's precisely the problem.

More pointedly, Cruz takes issue with Narcos, a Netflix crime-drama series that follows the rise and fall of infamous cocaine trafficker, Pablo Escobar. "Narcos follows a long tradition of Latinx actors and actresses being cast as drug lords, users, mules, sicarios, lieutenants, and every other role required to have a moderately functional drug empire," she explains. "Just to give you an idea: There’s Mr. Robot, Weeds, Breaking Bad, Sicario, Escobar: Paradise Lost, Blow, Bad Boyz II, Queen of the South, The Infiltrator, Suicide Squad, White Girl, Traffic, Savages, every iteration of the Law & Order franchise, Veronica Mars, Jennifer Lopez’s yet-to-be-named TV movie about the “Cocaine Godmother” of Colombia, and Univision’s own El Chapo."

Instead of the story being narrated by Escobar, the story is mainly told through the character of Steve Murphy, a DEA agent who infiltrated and brought down the Medellin cartel in the 1980s. "Murphy is one of the few white people in the show, and yet he’s still the one guiding us through the cocaine-streaked and bloody battle for Colombia’s soul—at least, that’s how Murphy describes the hunt for Escobar. Twenty episodes in, Murphy has guided us into battle, berated Colombians for not speaking English, and posed for pictures with Escobar’s bleeding corpse. Narcos, for all its effort, is about a white man's journey through one of the deadliest portions of Colombian history," Cruz continues.

While Narcos provides a window of opportunity for its writers to dissect the politics of the international drug trafficking in Colombia as well as the effect the trade had on Indigenous and African communities in South America, it instead casts Latinx actors as props, and centers white perspectives. "Murphy, played with jaded tough-guy sincerity by Boyd Holbrook, shares [an insight] in Season 1, about how Colombia is a 'country where dreams and reality are conflated.' A generous viewer might dismiss this reductive condescension as meta-commentary on the irredeemable whiteness of his character. But Narcos goes out of its way to endorse Murphy’s sneering gringo sensibilities as its own," adds New Republic writer Steven Cohen.

Season 2 of Narcos also proves to be extremely problematic in its portrayal of Afro-Latinx and female characters. "Colombia’s drug war has profound racial dimensions, but the sole black character of note on Season 2 (Julián Díaz) is a hit man literally named 'Blackie' ," Cohen continues. "The extent of his backstory is a pregnant girlfriend who appears in two scenes before being murdered." While the show aims to provide more depth to Latinx women than before in Season 1, other than strictly relegating their roles for sexual objectification, the new roles, are as Cohen puts it, "shallow in their conception and secondary in their importance."

Narcos is but a reminder of the film industry's refusal to cast Latinx actors and actresses in varied roles and their obsession with creating apolitical, shallow characters. Hollywood is rife with white writers who are content not challenging themselves to write more compelling content that captures the different aspects of the Latinx community; thereby, casting actors such as Benicio del Toro, Salma Hayek, and Aaron Zebede in drug lord films becomes crushingly de rigueur.

Cruz notes that at this point, the fallback to the Latinx drug lord role in Hollywood, is stagnating the imagination of the audience. "At this point, it’s just lazy, both intellectually and culturally. It’s boring. And we are rewarding boring... a larger examination of television and movies shows that over and over again, the Latinx stories being greenlighted, funded, written, and shot are about the drug trade. It’s easy to forget that when you don’t spend every season scouring cast lists and production names for someone who looks like you. Even in an age where Gina Rodriguez wins a Golden Globe for the titular role in Jane The Virgin, a show that includes varied and multifaceted Latinx characters, white creators are still obsessed with telling drug king’s stories."

While Cruz remains adamant that Latinx writers must find avenues to tell their own stories, she also remains critical of the role that white people play in divulging stories to Hollywood.

"How about this? White people are no longer allowed to make media about Latinx people for the foreseeable future. Sorry, I didn’t want to have to make the rules, but you’ve pushed me to the breaking point. Until morale improves, I’m revoking your privileges. Please send scripts to me for approval. They’ll be discussed at the next meeting."

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In this handout photo provided by One Voice: Somos Live!, Romeo Santos performs onstage at One Voice: Somos Live! A Concert For Disaster Relief at Marlins Park on October 14, 2017 in Miami, Florida.
Photo by Rick Diamond/One Voice: Somos Live!/Getty Images

Romeo Santos Makes History As The First Latino Performer To Headline MetLife Concert

Romeo Santos is making history and his fans have the most to gain from it.

On September 21, Santos will perform at MetLife Stadium making him the first Latin artist to do so. The venue holds up to 80,00 seats, which is more than enough for Santos' fans who will go see the singer perform his recent number one album, Utopia.

The one-day event will be called, UTOPIA the Concert, and Santos, the King of Bachata has already taken to his social media to express his appreciation on being chosen to make history at the stadium.

"I've never performed in such a prestigious venue, not even when I was a part of Aventura or in my solo career," the 37-year-old said in a video posted to his Instagram account about his upcoming concert. The "Odio" singer shouldn't face too much of a challenge in filling up the MetLife stadium seats.

In 2014 he sold out two Yankee Stadium shows, the stadium holds over 50,000 people; during his Golden Tour he sold out New York's Madison Square Garden three times. His draw power is undeniably huge, so tickets may be hard to come by once they go on sale.


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21 De Septiembre #UT🌍PIATheConcert #MetLife. ¡Pendiente a mis redes para la fecha de la preventa!

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Fans can expect Santos to perform hits from his Utopia album, which includes records with fellow Dominican singers Frank Reyes, Anthony Santos, Monchy & Alexandria, and his former group Aventura.

Ticket information is not yet available but is to be expected soon.

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Gang Member May Testify Against Defendants In 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz' Murder Trial

A member of the Trinitarios gang who witnessed the fatal stabbing of Bronx teenager Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz may take the stand against five defendants this week.

The first of two murder trials for the killing of Junior Guzman-Feliz began earlier this month, NBC4 New York reports. Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago (24), Jonaiki Martinez Estrella (24), Jose Muniz (21) and Manuel Rivera (18) and Elvin Garcia (23) were given second-degree murder, manslaughter, conspiracy, gang assault and criminal possession of weapon charges for the June 2018 stabbing of the 15-year-old.

It was previously reported that the leader of the Trinitarios gang assisted the police with information about the defendant but it isn't known if he is the same witness who will testify this week.

A total of eleven women and one man make up the jury. During the first few days of the trial, the courtroom watched three clips from the harrowing incident that showed Guzman-Feliz before and after the attack. The teen was reportedly stabbed by the defendants in a case of mistaken identity.

One of the clips was never seen by the public and showed the attackers dragging Junior out of the grocery story with the teen fighting back as the gang yielded machete and knives. Later in the trial, jurors were shown 13 different angles and the six locations of the group looking for the teen.

As family members sobbed in the court, prosecutors claimed that Junior's murder was premeditated given the weapons used. But defense attorneys deemed most of Junior's wounds as "superficial" and noted how the cut to his throat was the cause of his death. They also claimed four of the defendants did not intend to kill Junior. The defense rilled up the court, including Junior's family.

"Why would they need those weapons if they're not trying to kill someone?" sister-in-law Ione Guierrez told ABC7. "I need somebody to explain that to me." Junior's father was later escorted out of the courtroom for using profanity as the defendants reportedly laughed during the trial. "These guys are sitting there, just looking at us, just literally laughing," supporter Ilene Mariez told reporters. "The family got really really upset, and the father, towards the end, he was so upset he was using profanity," Mariez added. "So they pulled him from the courtroom."

Defense attorneys cross-examined witnesses like a woman who saw what happened from her apartment window. The witness said Junior motioned for her to call the police. After heading outside to help the teen, she said in disturbing detail his last word was "water."

A total of 14 people are facing jail time for Junior's death. The other nine suspects who are accused of taking part in other aspects of the assault will have a pretrial hearing dated for June 17.

Junior's passing sent waves around the country as clips were seen on social media. A number of celebrities took part in the #JusticeforJunior movement like Carmelo Anthony, Cardi B, Lala Anthony, Rihanna and Wesley Snipes. The street where Junior died was changed from Bathgate Avenue to Lesandro Junior Guzman Way. He was also honored by the NYPD with a scholarship created in his name. The teen was a member of the NYPD's Explores Program and had an interest in becoming a police officer.

"He was one of the good kids in the Bronx," his mother said at the time of his death. "He has never been in any fight, never, in 15 years. He was innocent. He never grew up on the streets. He was with me all the time."

If found guilty, the five defendants will face life in prison.

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Cardi B attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2019 in New York City
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Cardi B's Fans Are Creeping Her Out With Comments About Her Family

Cardi B loves her fans, but she's making one thing clear to them: her family is off limits. During one of her popular Instagram live sessions, Cardi revealed that she frequently talks to her fan pages but that recently they've been crossing a few lines and talking "hella crazy" about her family, especially her sister Hennessy Carolina.

Before getting into it, the "Please Me" artist made it clear that she's incredibly thankful for her fans and that she goes out of her way to respond to their comments and like their pictures, they just have to leave her family alone.

"I am so thankful that I have people who love me, that follow up with my life, always supporting me, always supporting my music, my looks and everything," she said during the live.

"But it's like bro, no, you cannot talk about my sister. I would go to jail for my sister, I would die for my sister, I would take a bullet for my sister. So nobody could talk about my sister. I could be best friends with somebody for 100 years. Once they say something slick about my sister, you’re getting cut the f*** off, period.”

Cardi warned the Bardi Gang that hands would be thrown, regardless of whether they're a fan of hers or not, over her sister.

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