For a century, Hollywood has been collaborating with police departments, telling stories that whitewash police shootings and valorizing an action-hero style of policing over the harder, less dramatic work of building relationships with the communities cops are meant to serve and protect. There’s a reason for that beyond a reactionary streak hiding below the industry’s surface liberalism. Purely from a dramatic perspective, crime makes a story seem consequential, investigating crime generates action, and solving crime provides for a morally and emotionally satisfying conclusion.
The result is an addiction to stories that portray police departments as more effective than they actually are; crime as more prevalent than it actually is; and police use of force as consistently justified. There are always gaps between reality and fiction, but given what policing in America has too often become, Hollywood’s version of it looks less like fantasy and more like complicity.By Alyssa Rosenberg, The Washington Post
Amid George Floyd protests, is it time for cop TV shows to be canceled for good?
The series and its many spinoffs, created by Dick Wolf, are among dozens of TV series about law enforcement. From “Dragnet” to “NYPD Blue” to “FBI,” the cop show is a prolific American institution that is immensely influential. In the 2019-2020 TV season, three of the top five dramas were cop shows, according to Nielsen. With 21 seasons and at least three more on the way, NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” is the longest running live-action drama in U.S. history.
Yet the protests against police brutality and systemic racism – sparked by the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes – raise questions, not just about real-life law enforcement but the fictional kind, too.
What role do police dramas and comedies play in perpetuating institutional racism and unpunished police brutality? Television is a powerful medium, and it’s long past time to reckon with decades of stories that portray cops mostly as heroes and protagonists and Black people as the criminals they lock up. If we can’t get rid of cop shows entirely (although it’s not the worst idea), we need to change them.Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, Published 2:54 PM EDT Jun 12, 2020
Peter Bart: Cop Shows, Classic Movies, Nude Scenes, Statues Toppling
I don’t believe Turner, or anyone, ever anticipated the range of positive, and negative, recommendations prompted by the demands of diversity. Greater opportunity must now be extended, and training vastly expanded; further, old habits and preferences should be set aside.
Is Gone With The Wind one of those “old habits?” John Ridley, a gifted filmmaker, pitched pulling the movie from the HBO Max lineup because it “romanticizes the Confederacy.” While he applauds the network for expanding its “breadth of programming,” he doesn’t include historic movies in that breadth.
John Fran, a novelist, argues in a New York Times op-ed piece that “white writers like me have valorized the police and hence justified police brutality.” Producers of crime shows who have traditionally used police consultants on tactical issues should now also employ them as anti-brutality advisers. Two TV shows, Cops (Paramount) and Live PD (A&E), already have failed the test and been canceled. Cops had a 32-year run.By Peter Bart, June 11, 2020 2:45pm, DEADLINE