A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Cops is cancelled. Gone With The Wind yanked.
There's a cultural revolution underway.
I spent a few hours away from Twitter yesterday and missed the birth of a new acronym - ACAB. Apparently it stands for All Cops Are Bad. It is used in the ongoing conversation around the depiction of cops on TV and whether positive depictions of police provide a barrier for viewers from seeing negative practices within police work.
Brooklyn Nine Nine has copped some heat for this, as a hang-out sitcom based on the wacky adventures of its police department characters. But now that conversation is being extended further to shows like Paw Patrol.
Don’t expect to see any of these shows cancelled anytime soon, but there’ll likely be fewer cop shows commissioned in the next few years as a result of this conversation.
Cops are not just television stars; they are television’s biggest stars. Crime shows are TV’s most popular genre, now making up more than 60 percent of prime-time programming on the big four broadcast networks. The tropes of the genre are so predictable that a whole workplace sitcom, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” is layered atop them. “A police station was a shortcut,” Dan Goor, the show’s co-creator, has said, “because people are very aware of how police television works. You know instantly who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.”
That shortcut now feels like a cheat: After images of a very special episode where Terry Crews is racially profiled were passed around as evidence of responsible police TV, others marked the show as “copaganda.”
One cop show that is toast is the grandaddy of all reality TV: Cops. The show, which was set to debut its 33rd season this week was pulled from the schedule and unlikely to ever return. Also in question is the future of a show that is effectively the show Cops, but broadcast live on Friday and Saturday nights is Live: PD.
Not only was the show Cops a show that glorified negative police behaviour while discriminately focusing on low socio-economic areas, over-representing men of African American and hispanic backgrounds in criminal situations, and other shady practices.
If you’re someone who doesn’t understand why Cops is such a problematic show, can I suggest taking a listen to the podcast Running From Cops - it’s a deep dive into the practices of the show and the way it has reverberated through our culture.
It’s been a big 24 hours for Gone With The Wind. It went from being prestige library content to suddenly being at the forefront of the culture wars.
Filmmaker John Ridley asked the question: Should Gone With The Wind be pulled from HBO Max?
“Gone With the Wind,” however, is its own unique problem. It doesn’t just “fall short” with regard to representation. It is a film that glorifies the antebellum south. It is a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.
It is a film that, as part of the narrative of the “Lost Cause,” romanticizes the Confederacy in a way that continues to give legitimacy to the notion that the secessionist movement was something more, or better, or more noble than what it was — a bloody insurrection to maintain the “right” to own, sell and buy human beings.
He doesn’t want the film vaulted like Song of The South has been. Instead he would like to see the film quietly returned to HBO Max at a later date at which time they can offer additional context for the film - warnings, supplemental material, and other conversational content.
This is the paragraph that really stood out to me:
I plan on keeping my subscription to HBO Max. But I hope that those in decision-making positions at WarnerMedia can understand how painful it is to scroll through the platform’s library and see it elevate one film in particular that has helped to perpetuate the racism that’s causing angry and grieving Americans to take to the streets.
HBO Max, in an effort to spotlight its extensive range of classic movies, did showcase the film prominently on the platform.
HBO Max were listening. Gone From The Wind was pulled from the platform. The statement from HBO Max:
Gone With the Wind is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society. These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible. These depictions are certainly counter to WarnerMedia’s values, so when we return the film to HBO Max, it will return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions, but will be presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history.
I’d be very surprised if the film was gone for long, but likely not for some months if not a year or so. It certainly won’t fall into a vault alongside problematic cousin Song of The South.
Sales for Gone With The Wind skyrocketed on Amazon. There, it is sold out across all formats.
With the exception of what seem to be single copies being offered — and immediately snapped up — on the site, Victor Fleming’s Civil War-era film has sold out in every format. One Blu-ray copy was being offered for $334.01.
Before you immediately look at this as culture war fallout with ‘racists making a point about their allegiances’, I suspect the uptick in sales is likely more related to the reason why *I* am eager to watch the film: the movie has such a long legacy that it has been on that bucket list of movies to watch.
I’ve never seen it. I can’t think of any point in the past 39 years of my life that there has been any significant cultural currency to inspire watching it. I have a vague memory of there being a big deal about it airing on TV when I was a kid, but I honestly don’t recall the particulars.
There’s also likely a number of physical media collectors who wanted to plug the gap in their collections before the film is removed from stores to add cultural context to the DVD/BD discs a la HBO Max.
And yes, there’s probably also a strong contingent of culture patriots.
Gone With The Wind isn’t the only movie/show to have been pulled for reasons of cultural insensitivity.
Netflix has pulled Chris Lilley comedies Angry Boys, Summer Heights High, We Can Be Heroes, and Jonah From Tonga. Source: TV Tonight
The BBC were firm in their statement that they wouldn’t remove clips of Chris Lilley from its website. And then they did. Source: Deadline
But it’s not just TV shows being pulled. Some are just respectfully being moved. New Hulu shows Love Victor and Taste The Nation were supposed to debut on June 19, but will now instead debut on June 17 and 18.
I am not exactly convinced that anyone would have been upset to wake up on June 19 to find that Hulu had launched a new show. But I suspect that Hulu PR were possibly concerned that their progressive, woke-audience-friendly show Love Victor would lose out on a bit of online heat.
NBC has cancelled Perfect Harmony& Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector. This is good news as both shows were not particularly good uses of talented casts. Particularly Bradley Whitford who this past year has been slumming it on Perfect Harmony, while stealing scenes on The Handmaid’s Tale.
Episodes one and two of Star Wars: Jedi Temple is online. It is a kids game show, but Star Wars themed.
A few new trailers today.
Doom Patrol - season 2 debuts on HBO Max from June 25.
Karma is a new kids competition game show. Again, this is on HBO Max.
I’ll Be Gone in The Dark is a 6-part investigation into the Golden State Killer. It follows the late crime writer Michelle McNamara in her investigation.
The series is based on McNamara’s book of the same name, and her research was so harrowing that it kept her up night after night with terrible nightmares. Desperate to rest and quell her mounting anxieties, she accidentally overdosed on prescription drugs and died tragically in her sleep with her manuscript unfinished. After her death, McNamara’s husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, enlisted his wife’s fellow sleuths, Paul Haynes and Billy Jensen, to help finish and publish her book. nearly two years after he death. It went on to become a New York Times bestseller, and just two months later, an arrest was made in the case, with DNA evidence pointing toward a 72-year-old former police officer.
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.