I'm not much a TV watcher. I hit all the high notes, but you're far more likely to find me watching a movie or playing a video game. I do, however, have both an elderly dad and a toddler nephew, which gives me close access to the target demos of the CBS drama "Blue Bloods" and the Nickelodeon cartoon "Paw Patrol." These shows are very different to say the least, but they both have attracted the attention of a certain subset of social media users in the past week. Why? "Copaganda." What the hell is that you ask? Simply put, it's the portrayal of police and law enforcement as "good guys" in media. There are some who believe that shows like "Blue Bloods" and "Paw Patrol" contribute to an American's positive attitudes towards police and police officers, which in turn allows society to turn a blind eye to abuses of power.

It's an interesting theory, of course. Media and pop culture shape American minds far more than in any other country. But is it anything more than a theory? My nephew ADORES Paw Patrol, even going so far as to call one of its characters, Chase, his "best friend." Being the good uncle that I am, I am constantly buying him anything I see with Chase's cute little mug on it. For those unfamiliar, Chase is the resident "police dog" on the team. Should I sit him down and explain that while he may think Chase is his best friend, Chase is willfully enforcing systemic injustice and must be held accountable for his actions? He's a smart boy but I'm not so sure he'd understand the conversation.

Plenty of media has portrayed "complex' heroes for all ages: "Breaking Bad" made people root for a meth dealer and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were constantly resolving conflict with violence. How much does that affect a viewer? I grew up watching Stone Cold Steve Austin drink beer on the job after sending his boss off with a Stunner and a double bird and I've only done that once in the workplace. And even before we answer *THAT* question, the question of whether or not just having a cop as a "good" guy or girl on a TV show makes that character "complicated." I've seen *plenty* of Blue Bloods (and heard even more, on account of the tv volume being pumped WAY up) and the issue with that show isn't that it glorifies cops, the issue is that it kind of stinks. I mean they killed a character's wife almost exactly the same way that The Itchy and Scratchy show killed off Poochie. How good can it be?

There are obviously important questions to be asked going forward and society is right in the middle of potentially seismic changes. Is this the best place to be focusing our energy? Should we re-evaluate our culture's portrayal of police and policing? Share your opinion in the comments section. And please...be kind to Chase. He's my nephew's best friend after all.

 

 

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