Thursday’s episode of The Daily Show took a closer look at how police procedurals can skew public perception of cops and canonize officers who use excessive force.
The “Copaganda” segment included a minute-long montage that featured multiple TV investigators from past and present shows — including Bones‘ Booth and Brennan, Chicago P.D.‘s Voight, Hawaii Five-0‘s Grover and Reigns, Law & Order: SVU‘s Benson and Stabler, Lucifer‘s Chloe and NYPD Blue‘s Sipowicz — resorting to unnecessary violence to get answers from a suspect.
“Every cop show makes it seem like the reason cops have to beat suspects is because without the beatdown, they won’t tell the truth, and so those beatings protect the rest of society from these lying criminals,” Noah said. “But in real life, beating a suspect is a great way to get them to confess to something they didn’t do, which means you’ve locked up an innocent person — and you’ve let the real criminal walk free.”
Noah went on to argue that TV is “a powerful tool that shapes how the public sees the police, shapes how the public sees the police’s role in society and how accountable they should be” — and that’s a problem. “When [real-life] rogue cops throw away the rulebook and take matters into their own hands, it doesn’t look ‘cool’ like in one of the TV shows.” It looks more like what happened to Antonio Smith, an unarmed Black man who was pinned down by Georgia police and told he was under arrest for a felony warrant, despite the fact that he did not have a warrant out for his arrest.
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All those show creators, directors and writers in Hollywood who make these cop shows have been tweeting that something needs to be done about the police,” Noah said. “Well, one way you can help make a difference is if you do something about the police on screen.”
What do you think of Noah’s argument that something has to be done about the depiction of police on TV?