Police Propaganda in Cop Shows

I think it would be incredibly insightful to fully delve into the propaganda that is commonly shown on our favourite cop shows so that they can be watched and enjoyed critically. I am not saying that cop shows are bad, I enjoy Brooklyn 99 and a few others. But it is really common to see tropes such as "good" cops breaking the law on a hunch because they really need to get the criminal but the bureaucracy in place to keep them accountable stops them. There is also a common theme of framing the police officers in charge of keeping other cops in line as the "bad guys" (e.g. The Vulture from b99). Always framing defense attorneys as evil, even though they are the only thing stopping cops from just arresting anyone on no evidence. And especially the theme of citizens invoking their rights (their right to counsel and their right not to speak to them without a lawyer, etc.) as things that are only done if you are guilty. All of these things are specifically framed to manipulate the audience into mindsets that would actively harm them if they actually were to interact with cops in real life. There is a lot of sources to back these sorts of things up but I don’t think I am the best at fully articulating the ways this is done subtly and pervasively in every cop show.

  • Ah, now this is a timely topic if I've ever seen one. You might do some compare/contrast. For instance, you say invoking their rights is something characters only do when guilty; is there ever a case on TV or in the movies where this isn't true? Are there examples wherein defense attorneys are protagonists, or wherein the lines between good cops and bad cops aren't as clear (e.g., Dark Blue)? I would also spend some time talking about how cops interact with majority/privileged vs. minority characters, and what that says about police forces and society. – Stephanie M. 1 year ago
  • It would be interesting to see a change in these types shows--more nuanced with a blending of "Blue Lives Matter," with "Black Lives Matter." – Joseph Cernik 11 months ago

Want to write about TV or other art forms?

Create writer account