Ariella The Big Short and Escobar symbolize money differently.

Ariella Dabush

MLAN 2015

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Final Essay

                                               Narcos and The Big Short

            Netflix
series, Narcos and movie, The Big Short take place in very
different settings. Narcos takes place in Columbia in the 1970s through
1990s. Narcos focuses mainly on the informal economy. The informal
economy consists of jobs, sales and markets that aren’t regulated by the
government. The Big Short takes place in America in the early 2000s and
focuses on the formal economy. The formal economy is regulated by the
government and for the most part legal. Although the story lines are very
different, there is something they have in common. Money leads to larger impact
criminality. As we see in both, the more money Escobar and the men of The
Big Short have, the greedier they become. As their greed increases, as well
as their money, their impact increases. The crimes started off small,
nationally and directly. As the men gain more money, greed and power, their
actions begin to impact more people indirectly.

      The men of The Big Short and Escobar symbolize
money differently. Escobar symbolized money with power. In Columbia, most of
the people surrounding Escobar are poor. The more money Escobar had, the more
powerful he becomes. The men of The Big Short
work in the financial district. Therefore, they are surrounded by similar
lifestyles and incomes. Although, the more money they had the more power they
gain, their level of power was not as drastic as Escobar. In Narcos, money determined social class.

In The Big Short, they were all apart
of the same middle/upper class. Money was symbolized as a numbers game for the
men. In the financial district money is constantly flowing, it becomes a game.

            In the beginning of Narcos, the crime
was national. Escobar was mostly selling cocaine in Colombia. In the first
episode, “Descenso”, Escobar smuggles cocaine past the D.A.S.,
Colombia’s intelligence agency. The smuggling of cocaine begins only in
Columbia. As the series continues, the crimes get bigger and more people are
involved. The more money Escobar has, the more of an impact he is able to make.

Escobar begins to smuggle the drugs into America, therefore having impacts on
the American people. As the series continues, Escobar becomes more powerful and
is able to have people do his dirty work. In episode 6, “Explosivos”
Pablo recruits a young man named Jaime. Escobar assigns Jamie to blow up an
airplane that Gaviria, the presidential candidate, will be on. Jamie ends up
blowing up the airplane, killing one hundred and seven innocent civilians.

            In The Big Short, Michael Burry, and
later a few other men, realize the housing market is being backed by subprime
loans. This means people are paying back less. Burry predicts there will be a
giant crash in the housing market. He uses this knowledge to go to many banks and
shorts stocks. Shorting stocks is a way to make money off of the misfortune of
others. Burry gets greedy and buys a billion stocks in multiple banks. As
people got a hold of the information, others, such as Mark Baum, Charlie
Geller, and Jamie Shipley, also started to short stocks. These men became
greedy, they went to Las Vegas to meet with bankers and try to get as many
shares as possible. When they go to Las Vegas, Ben Rickert really emphasizes the
size of impact. As Jamie and Charlie are celebrating the biggest deal they have
made, Rickert quickly informs them of the truth. “You just bet against the
American economy”, he then continues, “if we are right, people will lose homes,
people lose jobs, people lose retirement savings, people lose pensions”. Although
the men will be profiting, “every time there is a 1% increase in
unemployment, 40,000 people die”. There is a large amount of fraud in our
banks, government and education systems. Some may profit off of the fraud, but
there is a large indirect impact on the American people.

            In The Big Short and Narcos
money shapes the representation of criminality. In Narcos, the more money Escobar obtained, the worse his actions got
and the more he was demonized. As Escobar increased his income, his crimes were
worsened.. However, in The Big Short, the men were perpetrating fraud on
a massive level. The men of The Big Short
weren’t demonized such as Escobar. The men of The Big Short were just
seen as outsmarting a corrupt housing market. The men outsmarted the banks,
mortgages, loans and stocks. Escobar was making money from illegal substances, whereas
the men in The Big Short were making
money legally. They were just betting on the failure of the economy.

            Money
had a large impact on both of Narcos
and The Big Short. As income
increased, so did the impact of the crimes. The severity of the crimes
increase, as well as the number of people impacted.

References

Narcos. First Season. Netflix Series. Director: Jose
Padilha. 2015

The
Big Short. Film.

Director: Adam McKay. 2016.