'Whitewashed' Cop Movies, TV Shows Have to Go

In 'WaPo,' Alyssa Rosenberg calls for more realistic storytelling about police
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2020 12:41 PM CDT
How Hollywood Can Help: Overhaul Cop Shows, Films
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/vmargineanu)

In the wake of the death of George Floyd, the subject of racism and police brutality is now top of mind for most Americans. Alyssa Rosenberg has one idea on how Hollywood can help move things forward on these pervasive, intertwined issues: "Halt production on cop shows and movies and rethink the stories it tells about policing in America." Writing in the Washington Post, Rosenberg notes that police-themed films and series often tend to be dramatic, rife with plenty of crimes to solve, and with depictions of police departments as being "more effective than they actually are," while force at the hands of officers is "consistently justified." But while that may make for compelling TV, Rosenberg says this kind of programming on policing "looks less like fantasy and more like complicity."

She recommends a complete overhaul, including holding networks and studios accountable for promises they've been making over the past week on racial justice. That would mean, despite the expense, eliminating such stereotypical shows like Cops and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, replacing them with more realistic shows and movies that don't "whitewash" how departments and officers actually function. She thinks one way that can be achieved is by shifting the focus to the conversations and "fierce struggles" that often take place behind a police station's doors. "If the entertainment industry truly believes change can no longer wait, it should start with its own storytelling," Rosenberg writes. More from her here. (More police officers stories.)

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