In the thrilling climax of The Maltese Falcon (1941), the four lead characters realize that the supposedly bejeweled statuette some of them killed for is just worthless lead. Even hero Sam Spade — immortally played by Humphrey Bogart — acts momentarily let down, snapping at femme fatale Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), “All right you’ve had your little joke, now tell us about it.” That’s how I keep expecting sensible people to react to each ridiculous pronouncement by the Left — the Green New Deal, the 1619 Project (America began with the arrival of the first slave ship), boys can be girls, believe all women — and am increasingly less surprised when it’s taken seriously. But surely the latest liberal joke, Dismantle the Police, has gone too far? Well, they’re not laughing in Minneapolis, where the Democrat-ruled city council just agreed to dismantle its police force. And they’re not laughing in Hollywood at the too-close-to-home emanation of the movement — Cancel All Cop Shows and Movies.
Celebrities jumped on the first clown bandwagon right after the gruesome death of George Floyd at the hands of one to four Minneapolis police officers. The unavoidable Jane Fonda, John Legend, Megan Rapinoe, someone called Lizzo, and others signed “A Letter to Demand Divestment From Police and Investment in Black Communities.” Adherence to this lunacy wouldn’t threaten the stars’ privately guarded estates — merely the other 99 percent of the population, in particular minority neighborhoods. But now a new breed of clown has appeared to terrorize their community like Stephen King’s It — by calling for the abolition of screen cops.
Washington Post writer Alyssa Rosenberg last week advanced the bad joke in her piece, “Shut down all police movies and TV shows. Now.” She wrote, “There’s something Hollywood can do to put its money where its social media posts are: immediately halt production on cop shows and movies and rethink the stories it tells about policing in America.” Rosenberg magnanimously acknowledged the financial damage this move would do to the Industry. “There’s no question that it would be costly for networks and studios to walk away from the police genre entirely. Canceling Dick Wolf’s ‘Chicago’ franchise of shows would wipe out an entire night of NBC’s prime-time programming.”
As showbiz honchos quake before the new monster they helped to create, their virtue signaling panic has already begun. A&E just pulled Live PD from its near future schedule, citing the usual pompous reasons, such as, “Out of respect for the families of George Floyd and all others who have lost their lives … ” and “In consideration for the safety of all involved … ” The Paramount Network suspended COPS last weekend, replacing it with Ghostbusters in blatant disregard for the safety of ghosts. That multiple PDs are out trying to protect innocent life and property from mob violence is of little concern to Hollywood types.
We all agree that George Floyd’s death was an infamy and the officers involved should be punished. We may question the racial motive for it, and deny the Black Lives Matter lie of systemic racism. Bad cops have been a blight on law enforcement since 400 B.C. Athens. Today, police are statistically far less likely to employ lethal force on black suspects than white ones. An August 2019 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found “no significant evidence of antiblack disparity in the likelihood of being fatally shot by police,” and “the more frequently officers encounter violent suspects from any given racial group, the greater the chance that a member of that group will be fatally shot by a police officer.” Sadly, blacks commit more than 50 percent of homicides, mostly on their own race, yet they make up just 13 percent of the population. The only thing preventing a more tragic outcome is the same police force leftists want to dissolve, in reality and now entertainment.
The attack on TV and movie cops by the Left has an insidious secondary purpose — the further emasculation of men. It’s a new phase for the old mindset that abolished toy guns and dodgeball under the guise of antiviolence. Long after the death of the Western as the ultimate politically incorrect genre, with no room for angry feminists, screen cops inspired generation after generation of boys. We aspired to be as cool and tough as Bullitt (Steve McQueen, 1968), Malloy and Reed (Martin Milner, Kent McCord, Adam-12), Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord, Hawaii Five-O), The Mod Squad (Michael Cole, Clarence Williams III), Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood, 1971), Kojak (Telly Savalas), Starsky and Hutch (Paul Michael Glaser, David Soul), Crockett and Tubbs (Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, Miami Vice), Riggs and Murtaugh (Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Lethal Weapon, 1987), and John McClane (Bruce Willis, Die Hard, 1988). They not only took out slimy bad guys, they rescued beautiful women who often rewarded them for their heroics, which became doubly toxic to progressives.
As a USA Today reporter three decades ago, I interviewed Reni Santoni, a great, underrated actor who made his mark playing (“Dirty”) Harry Callahan’s young partner, Chico, in the original classic. Reni said the thing he was proudest of were the many policemen who told him he inspired them to join the force even many years later. And Kent McCord, in a tribute to his late Adam-12 costar Martin Milner, recounted how real cops would say to them, “You guys are really making it tough for us.… We have to live up to your image.” That image — of good men doing a tough job — is precisely what liberals dread. They prefer academia-indoctrinated girly males who will kneel to Black Lives Matter and denounce guns as sentient weapons. In a Bugs Bunny cartoon reboot, Warner Brothers will omit the hunting rifle from Bugs’ nemesis Elmer Fudd, a crime against boyhood and art.
To stay woke while still mining cop action entertainment gold, Hollywood has tried manning up policewomen on screen — Melissa McCarthy in The Heat (2013), Nicole Kidman in Destroyer (2018), Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba in LA’s Finest, and more — to great apathy. Real men don’t want to see them, and women don’t want to be them. So now TV and film producers are stuck between a rock and a soft place. The joke’s on them, and this one’s funny.