Friday, February 16, 2018

All Economists Are Bastards -- Except Us

Peter Frase has a very interesting post up about the role of popular culture in legitimizing the police. Frase recounted a forum he attended with Alex Vitale  talking about his book, The End of Policing. In response to a question about why people believe that the function of policing is to maintain peace in the liberal order when its actual practice and history suggest otherwise, Vitale cited television cop shows like  as "a relentless machine for producing and reproducing the legitimacy of policing in the public mind."

This is what called to Frase's mind the perpetual plot line he calls "'ACAB-EU': All Cops Are Bastards, Except Us.":
The trope works by consistently portraying its central characters as liberal fantasies of the good cop–whether it’s the pseudo-scientists of CSI, the workaday victim-protectors of SVU, or the magical profiler-geniuses of Criminal Minds. At the same time, it makes a seeming concession to concerns about police misconduct, by constantly putting its protagonists in conflict with "bad cops" and their enablers, whether it be a rapist Corrections Officer or a corrupt small town department whose cover-up leads all the way to the Governor.
 Of course this trope works for politicians too. And economists.

1 comment:

bbk said...

Funny, I was just talking with my girlfriend about this.

We were watching Law & Order: SVU for the first time in a long time. It was one of those episodes where at first it seems like one of the SVU team has done something wrong so the "rat squad"(!), meaning Internal Affairs the department policing officer misconduct, are part of the episode. Almost without fail the guys on Internal Affairs Bureau are portrayed negatively and the SVU team hate them. The IAB Are shown as almost evil, out to stop the SVU team from protecting victims.

It's crazy how the people meant to make sure the police are working for us, the citizens, are vilified by the show while the SVU's illegal tactics are tacitly excused as necessary to help those harmed by criminals.

Thinking back on it I wonder if the hate for IAB purposefully is so cartoonish and the actions of the SVU so outrageous that the makers of the show were trying to actually make the viewers think how ridiculous the SVU team are being and how important it is to prevent police misconduct.

I'm probably thinking about it too deeply. Knowing America it was probably all mean to make viewers also hate IAB and sympathize with SVU needing to sometimes use "unorthodox" tactics because of how society coddles the bad guys.