Sean Penn has admitted that his article about Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman for Rolling Stone fell short of his expectations. “Let me be clear: my article has failed,” he allowed. The piece, a strange sort of longwinded gonzo journalism, has been widely condemned for the concessions the author and magazine allowed the subject prior to publication. My preoccupations are less pedantic. I think Penn’s article is terribly written, but that’s not my main criticism. I think the piece fails because it lacks substance.
I imagine that Sean Penn did most of the research for the article at the airport on his iPhone before showing up in Mexico to do his fieldwork. Sean Penn claims he wanted to change the national conversation on the War on Drugs with his article, but somehow between October of 2015 and January of 2016 he didn’t find the time to do any research to bring his piece to life. He secured an exclusive interview with El Chapo and literally farted it away. In the end, Penn’s piece has become a major conversation starter, but not for the reasons he would have liked.
So, here are five articles about Mexico and the War on Drugs that are actually worth reading and discussing:
ONE: In his article “The Disappeared” for California Sunday Magazine John Gibler provides an illuminating and well-researched investigation into the disappearance of 43 students from the city of Iguala in the state of Guerrero in southwestern Mexico. While El Chapo’s capture, escape, and re-capture have captured public attention around the globe in places such as Guerrero, outside of the spotlight, the brutal grind of organized crime has continued to plague residents’ lives. …