Watching the Cops

Essays on Police and Policing in 21st Century Film and Television


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About the Book

Globally, police officers are the object of unprecedented visual scrutiny. The use of mobile phones, CCTV and personal body cams means that police are not only being filmed on the job but are also filming themselves. In popular culture, police have featured heavily on the big screen since the era of silent shorts and on television since the 1930s. Their fictional portrayals today take on added significance in light of social unrest surrounding cases of police brutality and discrimination.
These essays explore 21st century portrayals of police on film and television. Chapters often emphasize the Black Lives Matter movement and consider the tone, quality, appropriateness and intention of film and television featuring police activity. Extensively covered works include Mindhunter, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Cops, Criminal Minds and RoboCop, and among the major topics addressed are policing communities, hunting serial killers, police animals, and police in historic settings ranging from the 19th century through the present day and into science fiction futures.

About the Author(s)

Marcus K. Harmes is a professor at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia. He researches on British popular culture especially science fiction and horror.

The late Barbara Harmes was an academic at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia. Her research focused on English literature and higher education.

Meredith A. Harmes teaches at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia and has a research background in political science and British political history.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Marcus K. Harmes, Barbara Harmes and Meredith A. Harmes
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 296
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8934-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4973-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: Past and Future Visions of Policing
Meredith A. Harmes, Marcus K. Harmes, and Barbara Harmes 1
“Scotland Yard will never catch him”: Victorian Detectives on Television
Barbara Harmes, Marcus K. Harmes, and Meredith Harmes 11
Hercule Poirot versus the Police: Detecting The ABC Murders
Mark Aldridge 26
Interrogating Representations of Criminal Justice Policy and Procedure in Netflix’s Criminal: UK / Germany / France / Spain
Ben Lamb 40
“Blonde angels and damsels in distress”: Death Aesthetics and Racial Hierarchies in the American Police Procedural
Malinda Hackett 56
Evil Cops: Two Supernatural Procedurals Take on Police Brutality
Lynn Kozak 75
“A man must have a code”: Good ­Po-Lice and Representations of Masculinity in HBO’s The Wire
Kyle Barrett 90
Cops, Live PD, and the Problem with ­Post–BLM Reality TV Policing
Aaron Duplantier 108
“A traffic stop gone wrong”: Cartesian Police Violence Representation in The Hate U Give (2018)
Hilde van der Wal 122
“What you gonna do when they come for you?”: Cops and the Urgency of Black Flight in Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over
Cornelius Fortune 136
Exceptional Breeding: The Serial Killer Births the Mindhunter
Michele Byers and Rachael Collins 152
Mindhunter versus Criminal Minds: Degrees of Procedurality, Todorov, and Complex TV
Elly Temelcos 167
Female Sleuths and Postfeminism in Modern American Crime Shows: Bones and Castle
Lindsay Helwig 181
Gender (In)equality in Recent Cuban Police Dramas: Tras la huella, Patrulla 444, and Unidad Nacional Operativa
Carlos Uxo 194
Pembleton versus Holt: Policing While Black in Homicide and Brooklyn ­Nine-Nine
Erin Giannini 210
Brooklyn ­Nine-Nine: The Procedural Comedy After the 2020 Black Lives Matter Movement
Hannah Spruce 221
More Than Colleagues, Less Than Human: Implications of Anthropomorphic Policing
Marcus K. Harmes, Meredith A. Harmes, and Barbara Harmes 236
Don’t Stand So Close to Me (Because I’ll Be Watching Every Breath You Take): Robotic Police and Digital Surveillance in the 21st Century
David Riddle Watson 251
Future Visions of Policing
Marcus K. Harmes, Meredith A. Harmes, and Barbara Harmes 265
Marcus K. Harmes, Meredith A. Harmes, and Barbara Harmes 275
About the Contributors 279
Index 283