Colombia in popular culture

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The depiction of Colombia in popular culture, especially the portrayal of Colombian people in film and fiction, has been asserted by Colombian organizations and government to be largely negative and has raised concerns that it reinforces, or even engenders, societal prejudice and discrimination due to association with narco-trafficking, terrorism, illegal immigration and other criminal elements, poverty and welfare.[1] The Colombian government-funded Colombia is Passion advertisement campaign as an attempt to improve Colombia's image abroad, with mixed results[2] hoping for more positive views on Colombia.

Aside from the Colombia is passion campaign, Soccer has been known for being a major part in creating positive views as perhaps the most important to Colombians.


Depictions of Colombia in foreign films[edit]

Failings in the background research and the reproduction of the country are very common in films depicting Colombia. Some of these mistakes include showing Bogotá or Medellín as sylvatic or coastal regions, using Mexican or Puerto Rican actors (with noticeable accents), Mexican costumes, anacronisms and a general inaccuracy regarding the depiction of how the conflicts between government and drug-trading cartels work.

Some examples of fictional Colombian settings are:

Depictions of Colombia in Colombian films[edit]

Child on the street, screenshot from Gamin film by Ciro Duran, 1978

The mainstream of Colombian cinema follows the trend of the foreign cinema, depicting mostly narcotrafficking related issues, hit men stories, and films with a high content of poverty and human misery. Criticism of this type of film-making argued that these films did not treat their subject with profoundness, instead taking a superficial approach to the issues.[3] Some examples are:


Colombia in television[edit]


Colombian television[edit]

Television in Colombia consists mostly of soap operas which are known in most countries of Latin America, the most famous and the one that had biggest reception by international audience was Betty La Fea (Ugly Betty) which was aired and remade in over 50 countries. Lately, there has been a rise in shows that portray drug dealing which have been controversial in the country because the characters are law breakers who are glorified; some examples are:


Comics, anime and manga[edit]

  • Mother Goose and Grimm: In a comic strip published on January 2, 2009, Grimm wonders if the Colombian crime syndicate puts parts of the corpse of Juan Valdez in each can of coffee,[9][10] referring to an advertising slogan of Colombian coffee "there's a little bit of Juan Valdez in every can of Colombian coffee".[10] In response to the comic strip, the Colombian Coffee-growers Federation sued artist Mike Peters for linking Colombian coffee to human rights abuse.[11]
  • Bullseye character deals with Colombian cocaine smugglers.
  • Black Lagoon: In the episode 9, "Maid to Kill", appear Roberta and the Lovelace Family who are from South America; Roberta dispatches the majority of the cartel members, and Garcia is shocked at her combat prowess. Revy inadvertently reveals the Lagoon Company's presence during the firefight, and is knocked unconscious when Roberta fires a 40 mm grenade at her. Garcia asks the Lagoon Company to take him with them, and they manage to escape. One of the cartel members identifies Roberta as a former FARC guerrilla with a large bounty on her head. In the coming third season, Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail is presuming that the characters are in Colombia and Venezuela.
  • Excel Saga: In episode 19 ("Menchi's Great adventure"), Menchi and a young rich girl go to Colombia and drink coffee
  • Hellsing: In OVA 7, is told that Bernadotte's Great Father died in Colombia

Video games[edit]



As consequence of the negative depiction of Colombia and the Colombian people, Colombians are often subject of prejudice and discrimination in several countries.[15] some examples include:

  • Colombians are among the main targets of xenophobes and neonazi attacks in Europe, especially in Spain[16] and France.[17] Spanish paramedics have reportedly refused to provide care to Colombian victims of such events.[18] Police have been reported to refuse received complaints of the victims.[17]
  • "We don't sell to Colombians" signs are common in Ecuadorian stores[citation needed]. Lynching and necklacing of Colombian people have been reported in Ecuador.[19] Police and media are accused of creating the image that every delinquent band has Colombian leaders. Police reportedly refuse to receive denounces of crimes against Colombians.[20] Colombian children are often rejected from schools, and "preventive" battering of unrelated Colombians in the vicinity of a crime scene has been reported.[21]
  • Colombian passport often makes the person suspicious to international custom authorities[citation needed]. Extensive cavity searches, dismantling of luggages, clothing and personal items and Illegal retention in the airports without food or basic facilities have been reported[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ AC Zentella. "'José, can you see?': Latino Responses to Racist Discourse." retrieved 4 July 2007
  2. ^ Jenkins, Simon (February 2, 2007). "Passion alone won't rescue Colombia from its narco-economy stigma". The Guardian (London). Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  3. ^ (Portuguese) Universidade Estacio de Sa: A VIGÊNCIA DA PORNOCHANCHADA NA DITADURA MILITAR Universidade Estacio de Sa, Accessed 26 August 2007.
  4. ^ The True Story of Killing Pablo at History Website.
  5. ^ [1] US State Department list of terrorist organisations.
  6. ^
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  9. ^ Peters, Mike (January 2, 2009). "Mother Goose and Grimm" (GIF). Grimmy, Inc. Retrieved January 9, 2009. 
  10. ^ a b "Colombian coffee growers to sue over US cartoon". Associated Press (Google News). January 8, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Colombians find redemption in coffee". BBC News. January 9, 2009. Retrieved January 9, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Centre for the Aesthetic Revolution:tania-brugueras-controversial-performance-in-colombia". 
  13. ^ "El Tiempo,Tania Bruguera, que sirvió cocaína en un performance, suele hacer montajes polémicos". 
  14. ^ "VIDEO YouTube by Jepenuela,Colombian Art Critic of the Event". 
  15. ^ *(Spanish) Narcotráfico: un pretexto para la discriminación de los migrantes colombianos y de otras nacionalidades Colombia, Documentos De La Red ISSN: 1900-639X, 2007 vol:2 fasc: 1 págs: 74 - 92 Autores: WILLIAM MEJIA OCHOA,
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  22. ^ "Informe Sos Racismo 2006". 2003-04-25. ISBN 9788474266382.