Film Commentary 01: Narcos

On a general context, the series of Narcos exhibits how a powerful individual in society has complexly managed to operate a criminally inclined business, and escape multiple attempts by the authorities to capture him. In order to establish a firm ground in this game against the government, this individual succeeds in building his power and control through the instillment of fear in society in the form of killings and abductions. This “creative” approach allows him to gain leverage in this game of power against the government, provided that the latter is placed in a difficult position, succumbing to the former’s demands. In the government’s strong pursuit of bringing this individual under control, they are left with no other option but to accept the offer of imprisoning the latter in his own private “prison”, guarded by his personal security. Hence, allowing him to live in paradise, and to continue his business. This is the story of notorious drug cartel controller, Pablo Escobar.

The story that is portrayed in this television series provides its viewers with a great stint of understanding the institutional and individual concepts in violence. Recalling from previous discussions, the institutional explanation to violence highlights how the state, and its economic and social systems, all contribute into the phenomenon’s existence. As one may extract from the series itself, the resulting acts of politically motivated violence is a result of the altercation between an infamous drug cartel business, and the state authorities. Clearly, it is the mandated functions of specific state institutions to apprehend any illegal businesses, particularly those of related to drugs. On the other hand, people, like Escobar, are inherently part of society’s structure. Hence, revealing how the institution’s overall structure and organization creates violence opportunities between member’s of society and state authorities.

Furthermore, a strong contributing factor to the political violence exerted by the infamous drug cartel’s owner is his personal desire to continue his money making business. The individual concept of violence explains it through the understanding of the motivational factors of an individual, pushing him/her to engage in political violence. As shown in the famous series, Escobar’s individual desires are of great contribution, as to how all of the acts of terror were perpetuated. He was highly concerned about his business flourishing, and how he can establish control by going against the Colombian government. Hence, resulting to terror in form of murders and abductions. In other words, his course of action to engage in political violence was motivated by rational factors; continue his business, and escape the potential circumstance of being jailed by the state in their own prison cell.

Overall, the portrayal of Escobar’s chronicles in the plot of Narcos significantly reveals the presence of the Psychosocial Theory on Terrorism. In this theory, basically, terrorism is not seen as a “syndrome”, but rather, it is considered as a mechanism to politically and socially influence; trigger change. More so, it also highlights how terrorists are a result of social interaction. With these ideas at hand, the psychosocial theory, somewhat, dictates or illustrates the very elements that contribute to the story of Narcos. As one can observe, Escobar’s actions and pursuits of different forms of terror are all grounded on the motive of clearly sending a message to the government (influence the state) of his power. In fact, the resulting acts of terrorism shown in the series are a direct result of the social interaction between an infamous drug cartel owner with the state. In turn, the psychosocial theory illuminates the details of Escobar’s selected courses of action as a high profile drug dealer, and how it manifests multiple forms of terrorism, inspired by the motive to politically and socially engineer change.

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