Consuming Narcoculture

MONDAY November 7 | 11.00am

UNC-Chapel Hill. Saunders Hall Room 220.

Consuming Narcoculture: ‘Prepagos’ and Hypermasculine Narcos in the Narcotelenovela’s Mass Media Market
Guest Speaker: Miguel Cabañas, Michigan State University

This presentation highlights the importance of Narcotelenovela’s popularity and how it underscores important current debates of neoliberalism; at times, the narrative offers a critique of neoliberal consumerism, both legal and illegal. The subgenre of telenovelas in all its incarnations offers a critique of patriarchal society and of the middle classes—this is why many women and the subaltern identify with it—but at the same time reinserts the gendered body of (subaltern) women back under the surveillance of the (global) patriarchal gaze.
Professor Miguel Cabañas.Associate Professor of Latin American and Cultural Studies. Michigan State University

El Cartel de los Sapos (The Cartel of Snitches) or El Cartel was the first highly acclaimed Narco-telenovela of the new generation. Started aired on June 4, 2008 on the Colombian network Caracol TV. It is based on the book by the same name by Andrés López López, alias Florecita (a former drug dealer), who wrote the book during his years in prison. In his book, he writes about his experiences while in the Cartel and what happened within the Norte del Valle Cartel. In the TV series, each character from the book and the locations were changed, while being base on real people and situations of the second wave of narco-traficking in Colombia - the aftermath of the drug wars against the Medellín and Cali Cartels (mid 1990s to mid 2000). The series had a sequel and an alternate series (La muñecas de la mafia).

El Capo is a narco-telenovela made by Fox Telecolombia and written by Gustavo Bolivar (Sin tetas no hay paraíso) for RCN Television, based on its namesake book. This is the most expensive series ever produced in Colombia. 

The series follows the story of Pedro Pablo León Jaramillo, a man who by necessity, chance and ambition has become the richest and most wanted drug trafficker in Colombia. Despite his immense wealth, Pedro Pablo has maintained a low profile over the course of his life and has kept his role as a drug dealer a secret from his friends and family. This strategy has allowed him to fly under the radar of the authorities for years, but has also inadvertently created a complex web of betrayals, loves and hates that grows beyond his control. As the truth is revealed, Pedro Pablo's world begins falling apart around him. The story became a personal obsession for Bolivar, written in first person, and was based on what he would do if he were "El capo." Bolivar's research for the series included a lengthy investigation, including direct contact with other drug traffickers in prison.

These series (among others) has been transmitted in the U.S. by the TeleFutura network with high ratings.