How television shaped our views on police

Television and media, the one source for early all people to tune to whether they need entertainment, news or anything else. It is a portal which connects us to others within the world. It is also a place from where we form most of our opinions. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, many are wondering not just in US but throughout the world as to why this chain of thoughts not grip us sooner. Why is it that most of the people were oblivious to the abuse of power police use throughout the world? One of the main reasons for this are cop shows and movies. Its usually because as individuals not many of us have much actual experience with the police. We form our opinions through the junk that is fed to us by the television.

Photo by Alou00efs Moubax on

It can be noted by anyone that most tv shows and movies far too readily show the cops as trustworthy and infallible, all the while undermining real life claims of systemic racism and abuse of power. There are many reasons for this, ranging from the money hungry producers simply chasing after TRP to negligence from the writers and directors about not showing realism within the shows. However one of the main reasons for this is that no matter whether it is a movie or a TV show cops are not only consulter during the making of such shows but are also aware that their portrayals impact public perception and thus have a vested interest in making sure that the portrayal stays positive. A 2015 study showed that viewers of crime dramas are more likely to believe that police are very often successful at lowering crime, use force only when necessary and misconduct never results in false arrests. Now part of it is due to the viewers human nature, everyone wants to believe that the people who enforce laws do so effectively and fairly so that we as citizen don’t have to take the burden. The shows and movies like Law and order or Singham and Dabangg show the cops using force only when they necessarily have to. They make it seem that bending the rules set in place to govern their misbehaving is the only way to keep the general populace safe.  This is the power of such shows they make us believe that the only way the police can truly be effective is if they broke the rules that society created to protect us from the police. And the way they show mainstream cops bending the rules is by plain torturing a suspect who may have committed the crime. And showing that if the suspect hadn’t committed the crime it would serve as a deterrent from committing one in the first place. By that logic a parent should pre-beat their children to make sure that they do not stray to a bad path, but that is not the case. One has to realize that the cop shows are the only profession-based show where they show wanton unwarranted abuse of power as a good thing. However, beating a suspect in real life makes a person confess to a crime they didn’t commit. Which means an innocent was locked away while the real guilty party walks free. Beating a suspect to solve crimes has the same effect that washing a computer to remove a virus would have, sure the virus is gone but so is the computer.

What we do further is upon us but as Trevor Philips once said “The media and the government would have us believe that torture is some necessary thing. We need it to get information, to assert ourselves…… Torture’s for the torturer or for the guy giving orders to the torturer. You torture for the good times – we should all admit that. It’s useless as a means of getting information.”