Friday, November 25, 2005

World's Nastiest Ex-Cop

Is Sheriff John Bunnell the most objectionable person in the world, or is it just something he puts on for the show?

I reckon the blustering, bellicose, sneering persona he projects comes straight from the heart. There was an early cop show some years back - before he became a TV personality - that showed him working as an actual cop, carrying out a bust of some sort. Even then, the characteristics that Stojanovich presumably regarded as Star Quality were clearly visible: his undisguised contempt for those he was hunting; his fanatical dedication to his cause, and his unshakeable faith in his own personal righteousness.

The show, of course, is a perfect amplifier for these qualities. I don't know who writes the purple prose, but Bunny delivers it with real feeling. It's formulaic, but he pours all of his bile into each line, no matter how often he repeats them.

Every time the cops do something dangerous or deranged, they're being 'brave'. Each time the Bad Guys do anything unusual, they're 'crazed'. When the cops get lucky, it's a clever plan. The Bad Guys never get away, it seems, unless the footage is so good they really can't bear not to use it - in which case their escape tends to be glossed over as another clever plan.

How dangerous is this stuff, really? It's pretty nasty propaganda, which apparently tries to convince the viewer that all the felons shown are barely human scum, for whom no cruelty is unjustified. The Good Guys, in contrast, are valiant, superhuman heroes whose power and authority is absolute, and demands total, cowering respect.

The intended audience for this rubbish will probably contain a fair number who will be young and gullible enough to be impressed by it. That can't be good for society. Then there's cops themselves, presumably another key audience sector. While it may be good for their morale to have this superhero image fed back to them, it can't be good for their sense of proportion.

I reckon most people in the UK are pretty horrified by the random violence and abuse of power routinely shown being dished out by US cops. How accurate this picture is I've no idea, never having had a brush with them on any of my trips - despite a variety of small illegalities. It seems, though, that innocence is pretty irrelevant in these encounters, and the police will treat anyone they choose as a serial child-killer until they're face down in the mud with cuffs on. Only then will they stop being thugs long enough to become inquisitors. If one received such a beating-up from anyone else, you'd be inclined to go to the police.

And they do this on camera! Heaven knows what happens when no-one's looking - though there's footage of that, too...

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