I think I’ve done a great job of making this month’s festival of free media for your engagement particularly educational, and I’m not planning on stopping. Part of Da Ween is revelling in honestly appreciating the things I really like, and so, I should, surely, share these things that make me laugh, make me smile, and make me think.
Anyway, I watch Skip Intro to learn about American policing systems as represented in media and provide a comprehensive breakdown of the different facets of copaganda, an insidious practice that’s used to reinforce racism and classism and just all the isms that capitalism likes.
I don’t mean to joke about it so freely, but it is kinda telling just how much of this educational material I enjoy and participate in just feels like an immense bummer. Nobody signs up to watch a movie about how chains are constructed in a factory and expect to come out at the other end going ‘well, I now think that the royal family needs to be abolished by ballot or bricks.’ It’s just, the tenor of what interests me seems to be a lot of stuff that’s an immense set of downers.
Maybe there’s something to that, but I’m not planning on reflecting on it right about now.
Anyway, if you’re interested in what Skip Intro is offering, what are they offering, and how much offering is necessary to see if you like it?
The simplest approach is to just grab the Copaganda playlist and watch it all. IT does verge into the space of things I don’t find very interesting, like, oh look, it’s the Marvel movies, that’s totally worth talking about, okay, I get it, you’re going to focus on what you like, but I also just don’t care. And it’s not like I care about these other shows the channel talks about, but somehow I find it so much more tedious when it’s someone trying to draw a direct parallel between the superhero and the fascist in a linear fashion.
Instead, I’drecommend grabbing what of Skip Intro’s work interests you based on these core areas of expertise.
First there’s Blue Bloods, which is important to know about because odds are good you had no idea this series existed. You don’t, probably, watch TV any more. You probably consume ‘internet content,’ which is a weird space of puppet plays, streamed communal gaming material, and the documentaries that terminally online people find interesting. Like this one. But Blue Bloods is the influential, omnipresent media force that your parents are probably watching if you’re like me or, sigh, your grandparents, if you’re like most people in the reading demographics.
I think that when you watch this video about Blue Bloods, don’t think of it in terms of ‘this is media that has been made this way deliberately to represent a false reality.’ It’s dumber than that. These shows are being made by people who do not really understand reality despite their job being about creating realistic seeming media. It’s a lesson in how important verisimilitude is to work, the idea that the impression of what’s true is so much more important than any effort to represent actual truths.
Blue Bloods is a gaping headwound, a spot where older people just don’t realise they’re learning nonsense from a lollipop factory, because it’s presented to them with the bitter edginess of cold, hard, truths.
There’s a long form pair of videos about The Shield, a series that it seems much more likely these readers have watched, probably as a set of .mkv files off a server somewhere owned by someone you only know as SASSY-VLAD. It’s, I’m told, a really good show, very enjoyable, and full of all those awful edgy cop show stuff we like, because it openly centers on bastards. It’s a Breaking Bad alike, something that exists on the same DVD shelf as that kind of media, and it seems compelling and interesting.
What Skip Intro delves into is the question of how all the complaints about this system are still part of the system. When it ends, the characters are punished not because he did stuff the system couldn’t tolerate, but because it was doing stuff the system couldn’t exploit for greater gain. Interesting kinda way to position a TV show, but also, still, fundamentally thinks of the system as tolerable.
But without veering into a conversation about The Wire (Skip Intro includes a multi-episode examination of The Wire, it’s really good, you should watch it), I instead want to point to the way Skip Intro uses particular TV shows with their own particular framing devices to introduce, then dissect, the claims of ‘good police’ material. Particularly, there’s the promise of high technology shown in The Rookie:
And then the supposed importance and social value of police dogs, as explained in an episode on Paw Patrol.
Which is really good.
It’s not good, it’s not good that Paw Patrol is a billionaire machine that also feeds into complete nonsense lies about the way Police and their dogs interact with the world, and it should really upset you how many dogs the police kill, including their own, through being negligent and stupid, because nothing in their training requires them to not be negligent and stupid, but anyway, the episode of Skip Intro is really good and I recommend it. It’s an engaging watch, even if it is about a show that seems to be extraordinarily boring.
Oh, and since it’s just a good documentary deep dive into it, if you don’t know anything about Fentanyl, because you neither watch Fox News nor have to engage with an opioid crisis, you might be mistaken to think that Fentanyl is a brand new terrible thing invented so TV shows have something like a dragon to have their police encountering on the regular. This is not the case, and Skip Intro does a wide-reaching survey of cop shows to show how they talk about this drug.
It’s not a good look for the people who are, again, making media that’s meant to seem realistic.
I like this! It’s media analysis, it’s engaging with textual criticism, it doesn’t do a lot of grabbing heady academic sources and instead tends to rely on just checking with the writers and what they have to say about their own work, or facts and cases that prove things false based on the history of policing.