Paw Patrol And The Police Scrutiny Spotlight
Canadian American hit preschool television series Paw Patrol, a furry franchise themed around a German Shepherd police dog named Chase and his team of rescued canine helpers tasked with keeping their neighbourhood safe, is a multi-million-dollar industry. Airing in all of 160 countries, Paw Patrol enjoys a massive pre-school following.
But the police-brutality leading to the recent death of George Floyd has launched a full-on war on police being portrayed as glorified good-guys, and even though jabs directed at Paw Patrol on social media have mostly been tongue-in-cheek, the fact that the show does perpetuate the glorification of law enforcement officers makes it deserving of at least some measure of serious scrutiny.
Not All Cops Are Good
The real problem with cop shows is that they mostly propagate the notion that the cops are the people whose perspective we should care about the most – and that cops are mostly inherently good. This according to an essay authored by Kathryn VanArendonk, written for a prominent New York online media publication. VanArendonk goes on to make mention of various shows centred around the positive role played by law enforcement in society; shows like CSI, Blue Bloods, Cold Case, and many, many more.
Two long-running police-focused reality shows were cancelled this week: Cops and Live PD; both of which depicted actual real-life encounters between civilians and police officers. Cops in particular, has a long history of controversy for having often taken advantage of the pain and racialization of, especially the working class. The show ran for all of 30 seasons. And the pulling from the air of Live PD reportedly followed two independent reports lodged by two separate local news publications claiming the Live PD crew’s involvement with the filming of the death of a black man while in police custody.
Why ‘Harmless’ Is Problematic
Paw Patrol is of course an entirely different deal. Apart from the fact that many parents believe the show to promote teamwork and caring for animals in need, only one of the pups starring in the show is a police officer – other members of the Paw Patrol team include a construction dog, recycling dog, a water rescue dog, aviator dog and even a firefighting furry.
But this is exactly the nature of the problem, says Amanda Hess, who writes for the New York Times. Seemingly harmless shows carry way more power than obviously violent shows – exactly because of their overwhelmingly positive portrayal of police officers.
It remains to be seen what (if any) the change of direction will be for the many cop shop shows currently still on air – Paw Patrol included.