The terrible power of drug cartels south of the US border has been fuel for fiction and legend for years. Popular visions of cartel actions are at a high point now thanks to the attention on Breaking Bad, but even without that show there would be dozens of visions of cartels in media. The shocking bit is that not all of them are negative.

Indeed, those musical numbers in Breaking Bad, featuring Mexican bands talking about cartel actions, didn’t just pop out of Vince Gilligan’s head. There’s a burgeoning subset of Mexican culture that celebrates the cartels as the best way for a man to gain respect, money, and power. It’s scary stuff, like the fears people once had about gangsta rap realized and intensified through a subculture that applauds the actions of drug runners who have murdered thousands of people in Juarez in the last few years.

The documentary Narco Cultura looks at the relationship between the cartels and the people who celebrate them, and authorities who track them. After a Sundance premiere earlier this year the movie will open this fall. You can see a trailer below. Read More »