We Need to Reckon with the Cultural Mythology that Promotes Policing

Hollywood's most popular stories propagate what we collectively believe about the need for and effectiveness of policing.

We collectively believe the story that police/FBI/CIA do good and solve crime because we're steeped in a mythology perpetuated by a multitude of crime dramas that frame cops as heroes (copaganda). If we want to change the system we need to change the mythology it's built on. 

We are obsessed with crime. Crime dramas & true crime are two of the most popular genres in film and TV. These shows elevate cops and spin false stories about how much good they do and how many crimes they solve. They humanize cops while they dehumanize criminals and racialized groups (i.e. the majority of roles for hispanic men are drug criminals). 

Did you know murders are by far the least common crime? Yet Hollywood would have us believe serial killers and murderers are on every block and we need police to protect us from them. Most crime is property crime, not violent crime.

Most police killings in cop shows are framed as justified and necessary to save a life. If we want to change what the collective believes about police killings, then we need to transform the mythology about policing that is propagated daily through our screens. 

We are currently consuming a lot of stories about dystopian futures where fascism and heavy policing wins. We need new, life affirming stories to shape our future into something else. We need to show ourselves a better world is possible because we can't create a future we can't imagine.

We can't transform our culture without transforming our mythologies. The stories we consume shape our perception of ourselves and the world. If we hope to create a different culture built on principles like equity and transformative justice, then we need to start telling stories about such a culture. We need new myths to aspire to.


I'll be writing more about the importance of transforming our cultural myths because mythology isn't only relevant to the past. The stories we tell and consume deeply influence our beliefs about ourselves, other people, and the nonhuman beings we share our world with.