Blue Bloods is racist and sexist. I’m not going to argue about that.
Many shows are racist. Especially cop shows. What is of interest to me is that Blue Bloods is special in its racism and bigotry. It’s special because it’s well written. It’s an engaging family drama.
For those who don’t watch it, it’s a cop show about a multigenerational white family in New York who occupy various different echelons in the NYPD hierarchy, including the top job, police commissioner. Tom Selleck plays the wise, fatherly, tough-sensitive top cop whose sons and daughters are fighting their way up through the ranks. They’re the Reagans and they’re a family of good caring cops who argue politics and criminology over dinner.
Sadly, I can’t help but like the Reagans, even though the plot lines and dialogue have been written by Fox News pundits. It’s really effective public relations for the NYPD.
I hope they’re paying.
For Catholicism too. This kind of good PR shouldn’t come cheap.
Both the NYPD and the Catholic Church are portrayed as underfunded, caring, wise institutions whose problems are created by haters and politicians and racists.
And this, I think, is what makes me sick. Many people watching Blue Bloods will have no idea that the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. many people who like Blue Bloods won’t understand that the actions of the NYPD are systemically racist. Many people who watch Blue bloods will enjoy having important issues boiled down to easy soundbites.
It makes me queazy, in part, because I could watch it. I could like this family-values family of hardworking do-gooder white cops. I could ignore the racism just like I ignore it, or fail to notice it, in the other shows I watch.
I could ignore the gross PR for a worldview where bad cops are simply bad apples, and reverse racism reigns, and women falsely accuse men of rape.
But media is powerful.1
And we get the world we portray.
Blue Bloods portrays a patriarchal grandfather guiding his gritty caring family through the noble life of service they’ve freely and virtuously chosen. And it makes me angry. I’m not alone in this.
Unfortunately, putting a human face on the trials and hardships of white do-gooder cops is normal. Television has largely given us the white stories, the white narratives, the white heroes.
And Blue Bloods is no different. A lot of folks watching Blue Bloods are going to have their worldviews affirmed. It’s very slick PR for white supremacy.
- MEDIA IS FUCKING POWERFUL. ↩
- The overarching narrative of the show is racist. That means the project is racist. And that means that those supporting the project are doing something racist. That includes the actors, the writers, and the advertisers. ↩
- Turns out the median age of the viewers of this “white privilege lullaby” is over 60. ↩