Pop Culture

The Miami Cocaine Crisis had a major influence on the media realm particularly, serving as inspiration for a range of productions, both during and looking pack on this transformative period.

Pop Culture of the time, such as Scarface and Miami Vice, both released in the early 1980s, played a crucial role in molding Miami's reputation. These productions brought national attention to the city, portraying it as one that was off the grid, and played by a different set of rules. As Billy Corben, director of Cocaine Cowboys, stated, "When it was just money resulting from the drug trade in Miami, nobody cared, until people started dying." These productions shed light on both the affluence and violence that were taking a hold of Miami.







Released: December 1983

Directed by: Brian De Palma

Written by: Oliver Stone


The movie follows the endeavors of an ambitious Cuban immigrant who came to Miami in the 1980s and quickly finds himself involved in the cocaine trade. Tony Montanna, coming from a poor background and never having had access to economic abundance, is attracted to the quick money that the drug trafficking can produce for him. He proves himself to be a valuable man in the eyes of many drug lords of the time, having little care for collateral damage and eyes that are only on the prize. The film provides a comic portrayal of life for immigrants in late 20th century Miami.

Miami Vice 

Released: Septemer 1984

Directed by: Anthony Yerkovich, Andres Carranza 


This TV series depicts the intricate workings of the drug trafficking network within Miami, highlighting major figures and events within the 1970’s and 1980’s. It mainly proves the extreme violence that overtook Miami during this time. 

Cocaine Cowboys

Released: April 2006

Directed by: Billy Corben & Alfred Spellman


The film explores the overall transformation of Miami that the cocaine crisis had a great deal to do with. Towards the beginning of the film it depicts that Miami, prior to the increased cocaine importation was mainly an under the radar vacation and retirement community. Due to Miami’s miles of bare coastline and lack of strict law enforcement drug smuggling through Miami quickly escalated until 95% of all drugs heading to all parts of the United States passed through the city. The development of the large scale cocaine importation transformed all parts of Miami social life, as depicted in the film. The film provides interviews of people directly involved in roles such as buying, selling, and importing cocaine to provide a first- hand perspective on the events of the drug war.


"Miami in the 80s- Mariel Boatlift- Cocaine Cowboys" (6:15)

"Narcos- Official Trailer" (2:15)


Released: August  2015

Directed by: Andrés Baiz, Fernando Coimbra, Guillermo Navarro, José Padilha 

Created by: Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro


This modern Television series follows the life of Pablo Escobar, a major figure in the dug world who headed the Medellín Cartel. 




Billy Corben, perosnal interview with director, May 12, 2016.


Corben, Billy. Spellman, Alfred. Cypkin, David. Cocaine Cowboys,

     rakontur, April 2006.


Stone, Oliver. De Palma, Brian. Scarface, Universal Studios,              December 1983.


"Narcos," International Movie Database, May 8, 2016






"Miami Vice (1984)," International Movie Database, May 8, 2016




"Scarface (1983)," International Movie Database, May 8, 2016