This week, Hollywood is still reckoning with onscreen depictions of racism and police violence. In response to the global Black Lives Matter protests, Paramount Network pulled the police reality show “Cops” just before the premiere of its 33rd season, and A&E pulled its spiritual successor “Live P.D.” from its network. Both shows came under fire for glorifying police work without addressing the inequalities of the criminal justice system.
Critics and criminal justice advocates have long denounced “Cops” as propaganda for normalizing police brutality, turning real-life arrests into entertainment. The civil rights group Color of Change has denounced the long-running reality show since 2013 for profiting off of the injustices present in the criminal justice system. In a statement, a spokesperson for the network said there are no plans for the show to return.
The show “Live P.D.” was the center of a scandal following an investigation into the on-camera death of an unarmed black man. Javier Ambler, a 40-year-old postal worker and father of two, was killed by Austin police last year during a minor traffic stop that was being recorded for the show. In a tweet to the show’s fans, host Dan Abrams said he “did everything we could to fight for you, and for our continued effort at transparency in policing.” “Live P.D.” claims that the tapes of the incident have been destroyed.
Other networks have begun to figure out how to respond to the film industry’s racist legacy. HBO Max has pulled “Gone With The Wind” from its streaming service, though the network says it will return at a later date with a disclaimer denouncing its racist depictions of the antebellum South. The Oscar-winning film has long been criticized for romanticizing slavery.