On Media Perception & Effect

I have expressed a similar thought before on other social media, but I am genuinely surprised by current perceptions/thoughts/emotions/concerns of law enforcement and the glorification of it in popular media. Most, if not all, of the programs starring or involving law enforcement have the cop(s) as the protagonist and/or hero, but in virtually all of the current programs they are also unquestionably corrupt and break so many laws, practices, and procedures to “do what is right” and “get shit done.”

What’s odd to me is these characters are praised, seen as heroic, or at worst seen as a necessary evil. Seriously, look at any current law enforcement program (non-reality) and the cops have done illegal, unethical, immoral, or highly questionable acts to catch the bad guy. And of course the justification for this is that the law enforcement officials are the “good guys” so if they have to break the rules to do their job then it’s okay.

But it’s really not. When you have to justify your actions, then there is probably some questionable aspect to the taken actions. Why do we romanticize these individuals as some sort of anti-heroes that are worthy of praise and glory?

The thing is I truly believe that the media we consume affects us to some degree. Now, obviously you are not going to become a proponent of police misconduct or questionable law enforcement practices because you saw a couple of episodes of Chicago PD or Longmire, but most science and surveys suggest that you will be influenced somewhat.

Is there a direct relation between police representation in popular media and police conduct in the real world? Probably not, but there is most likely some correlation between the two. Rolling swimming pool cop anyone?

Anyhow, what do you all think? Am I completely off? Do any of you find the disparity in media, real life, and perception weird or scummy?

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2 thoughts on “On Media Perception & Effect

  1. Name me a good drama about characters who follow all the rules. House MD is akin to what you describe as “breaking the rules but getting results” but is about an anti-hero doc. The reason audiences are drawn to anti-heroes is because they see rule following as ineffectual whereas the renegade can sometimes get results, even at great personal cost. What we don’t like is a renegade who doesn’t get results, which is often the indictment on torture or excessive police brutality. It’s kind of sad that the criticism is not that either is bad in themselves, but their badness comes from their failure to achieve their intended aims.

    • Agree that the audience likes the idea of a renegade or anti-hero, but as for real world examples, I don’t really see many renegade doctors or hospital personnel. I imagine if there were that there would be some reaction. So why do you think that is?

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