Nick Morgan’s take on Sin tetas no hay paraíso is particularly interesting to me this week. One of the most interesting points Morgan makes in his article is that film noir and narconovelas are similar in style and roles within society. In this article, the author remarks how film noir was originally viewed as sensationalist and cheaply made, just like narconovelas are viewed by many today. Further, Morgan remarks how both film noir and narconovelas focus on the “dark sides of the social world”. Morgan explains how this theme was originally made a popular trend by film noir, and that this type of filmmaking is also important as it was the first of its kind to reflect the struggles of contemporary society directly.
An interesting observation mentioned in this article by Krutnik (1991) is that a clear theme in film noir, that Morgan also states persists in narconovelas, is the continued failure of society to support individuals and the transformation of societies into places individuals have to escape from. The portrayal of societies as realistic-seeming dystopian worlds and hell-scapes is a theme that has persisted throughout many movie genres (e.g. horror) and, of course, narconovelas.
When considering the violent political history of Colombia, it makes sense to me that these themes would be explored in popular TV shows. I can imagine that, unfortunately, the sense that one is living in a violent and cynical world is not foreign to many Colombians. I feel like, unfortunately, many innocent people of Colombia have felt let down countless times by their societies and leaders, like so many other Latin Americans.
From colonization to Rojas’ dictatorship to nationwide poverty to drug wars to rape culture to – the list goes on and on – Colombians have probably experienced an incredible amount of disappointment in their governmental, social, judicial, and economic institutions. That being said though, I can also imagine that many Colombians are also aware of their country’s strengths and are very proud of their cultures, society, and government – as they should be!
Reading this Morgan’s interpretation of the connections between film noir and narconovelas makes a lot of sense to me when I consider what Argentinian soap operas are like. They are of course diverse in plots and settings, like any TV genre, but have many of the same underlying themes. Many of them also use the literary style of tremendismo, in which grotesque images and violence are emphasized.
Discussion question: Can you think of any dark and grotesque media (e.g. TV shows, movies, YouTube videos, etc) that many Canadians subscribe to that is somewhat adjacent to narconovelas? If so, what is it? If not, why do you think similar types of TV shows don’t exist or aren’t as popular as they are in Colombia?