New documentary ‘Narco Cultura’ shows ‘grisly’ influence of Mexican drug gangs on American pop culture

“With an AK-47 and a bazooka on my shoulder/Cross my path and I’ll chop your head off/We’re bloodthirsty, crazy, and we like to kill,” he sings from the relative safety of a bar in El Paso, just over the border from Ciudad Suarez.

A new documentary shines a worrying and grisly light on a growing Latino pop culture phenomenon in the United States inspired by the deadly drug violence which has ravaged neighboring Mexico.

“Narco Cultura” depicts the “narco clubs” of the southern and southwestern US, from Los Angeles to Atlanta, where fans come to hear popular music glorifying Mexico’s drug cartels.

Mexico’s “narcocorridos,” as the ballads are called, are catchy, up-tempo odes to a dangerous, often deadly, criminal life — likened to America’s violence filled “gangsta rap” music.

The film by Israeli-American photographer Shaul Schwarz contrasts the grim life of a crime scene investigator in Ciudad Juarez, one of Mexico’s most violence-torn cities, with the glamour of a top narcocorrido singer from Los Angeles.

“The movie is really about two people, and through them you understand the whole situation,” Schwarz, a war photographer who has worked in Afghanistan, Kenya, Haiti and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, told AFP.

“I want people to think about it, to not just wave it off as a Mexican drug war far away,” he said, adding that drug-related violence has killed 60,000-100,000 people in the last seven years.


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