The Columbian drug smuggling series, Narcos, is basically nostalgia porn for baby boomers (like me). It has all the ingredients that we think we remember from the far off 1970s. Beautiful people, brooding men and flirty women, stunning scenery, risk taking, drinking too much, wearing too little, ciggies everywhere, a deep languid voiced narrator, young people who were wild and loose and devil may care, ‘cos they didn’t. Many of us didn’t either.
The heroes are like the bad boys of my youth. The ones my friends and I all lusted after. Except they grew older and are now mostly respectable and middle aged, not lying in a cold grave in the hills of Columbia.
Like them, we thought we were smart. We worked hard, and played even harder. We made bad choices, maybe married unsuitable people.
In Narcos you see good guys doing bad things. Sometimes they don’t seem good at all, but ruthless and callous. You see the bad guys being good, giving money to the poor. As viewers, we know that’s a calculated act, but I’m sure those who got the money, swallowed any misgivings they had. We see Escobar himself playing with his kids, enjoying himself, while horrific acts are being carried out at his command. I also know that these are classic cinema tricks to play with your emotions.
But sometimes you’re left wondering which was the ‘right’ side in the dirty drug war? Perhaps there was none. No wonder the ordinary people of Columbia were confused…
So there’s darkness, desperation and determination in every scene, but also the enthusiasm and exuberance of young people whose lives shine brightly even when they are snuffed out far too soon.
Of course, it’s also a VERY BAD SHOW. It could put lots of very bad ideas into the heads of innocent young people…
It makes smoking look cool.
Casual s€x looks desirable, and no one ever gets STIs.
Killing people brutally is okay if you’re on the right side.
If something bad happens in your life you can get away with drinking yourself stupid and smashing in the face of someone who annoys you.
Or it looks that way.
Would I go back there now? No. There were consequences to that lifestyle, even if you weren’t shot dead on a street corner (unlikely to happen in a small town in rural Wales). And social norms have completely changed now. Smoking is almost verboten, and drinking is heading the same way. Violence is still accepted by many though, and I don’t understand the rules of s€xual relationships at all any more!
Perhaps it looks like a historical drama to today’s under 25s? Living that way must seem completely alien to them, especially all those moustaches…
But it’s part of the memories of my generation. So Narcos, don’t you go a-changing. Give those of us who were alive when the events of this series took place, the chance to wallow in the 1970s for a little longer. Please?
1. I was a member of the Netflix stream team on my previous blog. Membership gave me free Netflix and other nice stuff.
2. I really really love Narcos.