Occasionally, a bone is even tossed our way. The occasional compassionate cops make appearances in smaller supporting roles in "Magnolia" and "Anywhere But Here." In fact, I'd be tempted to couch the sentiment lest I appear to be guilty of the same wholesale scapegoating that I believe the entertainment industry is guilty of.
Indeed, there are actors who are conscious of the effects of the roles they play and the legacies of the movies they make. Yaphet Kotto is one. CCH Pounder and Alfre Woodard are two more.
But there are others who I'd be hard-pressed to ever see as sympathetic toward the police. Warren Beatty is one. Oliver Stone is another. It is perhaps most insulting when "actors" such as Ice-T routinely get cast as cops.
Like Hollywood, Madison Avenue is not in the business of being cop advocates, and perhaps it says something to its priorities that it goes out of its way not to be.
In a world where if it bleeds, it leads, our deaths make good copy-and apparently good advertising copy. Benetton, a "conscience"-minded clothing line with a willingness to take "an ethical stand," used death row inmates-including a cop killer-to sell garments. Perhaps in response to the sale of Bonnie and Clyde's death mobile (immortalized in the eponymous 1967 movie), a Texas reverend put the car driven by Texas cop-killers up for sale on Ebay: Reserve price: $10,000.
The Benetton ads were eventually dropped; the car didn't sell. (The ad campaign probably wasn't offensive enough for the industry that gave us heroin chic and scantily-clad Lolitas, and the blue book on the car was probably a little low. If that's the case, the blue book on the thin blue line can't be much more.)
Caveat venditor. (Seller beware.)
Hollywood will never be confused with an ardent supporter of law enforcement-there's too much of an inherent conflict of interest. Our agenda often runs contrary to their artistic sensibilities and predilections. We undermine Robert Downey Jr. We're not forgiving enough to just let Sarah Jane Olson go about her life. We occasionally draw first. And when creative powers such as Aaron Sorkin and Oliver Stone get arrested, they know they'll have the final say, if only through the characters they create and put on screen.
And boy, do they love to put us on screen.
Besides "Training Day," we have "L.A. Confidential," "To Live and Die in L.A." and many other films that show cops as crooked, bad, and homicidal.
The problem with this flood of "ethically-challenged cops" is that they have created a new image of cops, one in which the exception to the rule eclipses the other and becomes the norm in the minds of many.
When combined with the media's pro forma stereotypes of racist officers having their way with everything and everyone from Tawana Brawley to O.J. Simpson, the image percolates and festers in the addled mind of more than one viewer. And more than one cop has paid the price.
In the case of Douglass Township Officer John Stasik III, Andrew Hampton McCrae happened upon the officer as he gassed up his car. McCrae shot him in the head as a "protest" against police brutality, then found himself facing murder charges in New Hampshire.
In Dublin (Calif.), a group of Asian gangstas watched "Menace II Society" before shooting and killing a police officer.
In Texas, a state trooper was killed by some idiot operating under the influence of a Tupac song.
One can only wonder what asinine excuse Maurice Clemmons would have offered for his actions if he hadn't been killed. Already, his family is saying he had diminished mental capacity . Funny how this breed of criminal insanity only seems to hurt those about him, and how cagily he eluded police immediately after the shooting, despite his "emotional distress."
Regardless of the degree to which criminals like Clemmons are emotionally compromised, there can be little doubt that they become emboldened to carry out such acts when they see similar acts romanticized.
The perpetrators and purveyors of films such as the ones mentioned in this blog have historically defended their creative largesse in the name of art. If that contention lacks appeal, then they will defend their product by saying they're holding a mirror to society, that they only reflect the corruption and graft that's endemic to the job.
For an image-conscious group, they're awfully cavalier about how they treat the images of others. Heaven forbid that they should rotate that metaphorical mirror a bit and show a more favorable side of law enforcement.
Perhaps, it's a moot point. Nobody's registering any concern about replicant behavior, unless it inconveniences others outside our profession.
Not that these influences absolve the perpetrators of their responsibilities. But they have doubtlessly made it that much easier for the suspects to take officers' lives with little hesitation and less remorse. Whether or not our deaths are objective goals of the people who conspire to put us in as bad a light as possible, they appear to be agreeable byproducts to the episodes they precipitate.
How long will it be before the next loser-sufficiently tanked up on "Training Day" and meth and the rhetoric of cop-hating militants-decides to make his point with a gun?
To add insult to fatal injury, officers' deaths can become sources of celebratory inspiration. Appearing in Fort Wayne, Ind., Marilyn Manson performed a sick re-enactment of Indiana State Trooper Cory Elson's murder in nearby Decatur. Apparently during the concert, there was a loud boom on stage and then an air cannon shot blood all over Manson who was wearing an ISP uniform and hat, all this to the delight of cheering teenagers.
Yes, I believe that the job is increasingly dangerous. And it is made more so by what is put out there about it. Unfortunately, it isn't the bad cop who pays the price. It is the good cops, such as our fallen brothers and sister of the Lakeland Police Department.