The Police and American Pop Culture

When it comes down to it, when we’re in trouble such as being robbed, attacked or anything resembling a life or death or situation, who do we want to see come through the doors? We want to see the person with the badge on his/her shirt to instill justice. In any of these situations we want law enforcement to step in, because that’s why they’re here.

But the times we’re not in trouble, which is probably most of the time, what are we doing with the police?

Over the last decade, especially the last few years, there has been a wave of what is known as “cop-hate.” This is especially popular with the younger generation. Why? There are many reasons a person will give, such as law enforcement supposedly infringing on people’s rights, enforcing restrictions, etc. The biggest culprit I would say is the media industry.

What I find fascinating is that people enjoy the concepts of “rebellion” and “anarchy.” Films have thieves such as in Now You See Me where it wants us to root for the law-breakers, and against law enforcement. Video games such as Grand Theft Auto has the player commit crimes and openly disregard morality, not keeping with the law. which is a primary reason why these games sell so well. The idea of being held accountable just isn’t popular. The idea of doing away with authority and making one’s own rules is a very popular mindset to have, but is it good? In the case of The Purge, if anarchy were to truly reign as a system, we’d all be in trouble.

One has to question when a song titled “F Tha Police”┬ámakes waves. This particular song blatantly condones violence against the police force. If we say police brutality is as extremely widespread as the song would have us believe, are we not exercising brutality ourselves by following what the lyrics say? It’s songs like this which continue to shape the minds of those who continue to listen to them. Instead of themes praising the heroism of cops, we get this.

What do we often see in movies? There’s a popular trope of portraying government as evil. Since the police enforce government laws, this┬áhas definitely helped the general public cement their views on federal forces. What is celebrated in pop culture and society is the idea of “taking matters into your own hands,” such as illegal activities being even joyous occasions. (Such as in the biography film THE WALK.) When the films we watch, the music we listen to, and the comics we read all feed the person with the idea that the police are the bad guys, what happens? Respect for authority dwindles and crime becomes more widespread. Why is it that America has the highest incarceration rate? It’s an interesting but sad question to answer.

The police force isn’t perfect. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world so we won’t always see the force living up to its ideals. Is this more often than not? I don’t think so. On any given day, any given moment, such as you right now reading this article, an officer is out there putting his/her life on the line to save another human being. When there’s an emergency at 3 a.m. whom shows up when you call for help? When a person is listening intently to the lyrics of “F Tha Police,” somewhere an officer is in critical condition for making sure a child gets to see another day. The police deserve respect, and I hope Hollywood will start showcasing these aspects of the force in films, and artists will rise up to counter the rebellious mindset of most music lyrics today.