Cultural Changes To Big TV Shows Follow Protests

Logo of COPS television show
William Anderson
July 8, 2020

After years of running police propaganda, TV is having a much-needed reckoning. Many of the shows viewers assume are safe entertainment have a troubling hidden purpose.

By normalizing “everyday policing,” shows like COPS and Live PD painted a picture of law enforcement that wasn’t true to reality. Here’s why that’s a complex picture we have to unpack:

Shows like Cops and Live PD purposely don’t show all of the police brutality and killing that takes the lives of Black people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and 7-year-old Aiyanna Stanley - who was killed during filming for The First 48, though the footage never aired.

They spread positive misperceptions about police, and analysis shows they distort the truth. For example, the horrible Central Park 5 prosecutor Linda Fairstein helped shape the show Law & Order: SVU. The problem will only grow worse unless we keep up the pressure.

And pressure, it turns out, works! Following global protests against police brutality, the television shows Cops and Live PD are finally being cancelled.

Policing is not a form of entertainment. For Black people, it’s one of the biggest threats to our lives. Reject copaganda TV shaped by anti-Black law enforcement consultants, and let’s make new stories and media that don’t glorify the unacceptable. Cancellations are just a start!

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