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People debate whether ‘Paw Patrol’ is problematic amid protests


Black Lives Matter protests continue to erupt around the United States nearly three weeks after a police officer killed George Floyd. The call to end racist violence by defunding the police has never been louder — and Hollywood is quickly having to adapt.

After 32 seasons, it was announced on Tuesday Cops was canceled. A&E just pulled its controversial show Live PD from the schedule. Could Paw Patrol really next? Yes, some people are questioning whether the popular Nickelodeon children’s cartoon should be “canceled,” culturally speaking.

Ryder and his team of pups on Paw Patrol. (Everett Collection)

Paw Patrol follows a little boy, Ryder, and his team of pups, who save the day in their fictional town. There’s Marshall, a firefighting dalmatian, and Skye, the fearless cockapoo who flies around on lookout. But one of the most popular characters is the German shepherd Chase, who happens to be a cop.

Last week the show’s Twitter account announced it was muting content “for Black voices to be heard so we can continue to listen and further our learning.” And Twitter did its thing in the replies.

One person linked to a 2018 article on the satirical website the Onion, “Paw Patrol Writers Defend Episode Where German Shepherd Cop Shoots Unarmed Black Lab 17 Times in Back.”

“Defund the paw patrol,” someone replied, while another added, “Euthanize the police dog.”

“For a paramilitary organization Chase breaks so many privacy laws it’s ridiculous. Sky also in direct violation of international standards preventing dogs from flying helicopters,” another Twitter user wrote.

The comments were mostly in jest — although some took dark humor to a new level. However, it ended up sparking a wider debate about how good cops, like the lovable Chase, should be portrayed on television.

The New York Times published an article on Wednesday titled “The Protests Come for Paw Patrol,” and while it acknowledged people calling for the show to be “canceled” weren’t really serious, it basically pointed out why a character like Chase could be problematic.

“It’s a joke, but it’s also not,” the author wrote. “As the protests against racist police violence enter their third week, the charges are mounting against fictional cops too. Even bighearted cartoon police dogs — or maybe especially bighearted cartoon police dogs — are on notice. The effort to publicize police brutality also means banishing the good-cop archetype, which reigns on both television and in viral videos of the protests themselves. Paw Patrol seems harmless enough, and that’s the point: The movement rests on understanding that cops do plenty of harm.”

Other outlets came to the cartoon’s defense, like the Federalist, with its article “Paw Patrol and Chase the Police Dog Are Good Examples of ‘To Protect and Serve.’”

Suddenly the idea that some could find Paw Patrol too problematic took off on Twitter with conservative politicians and commentators quickly weighing in.

Dean Cain called the notion Paw Patrol should be canceled “insanity.”

Megyn Kelly tweeted a link to the New York Times article and said it’s “beyond parody.”

The idea of Paw Patrol actually getting canceled is a long shot. The show was renewed for an eighth season earlier this year, and the film Paw Patrol: The Movie should hit theaters in August 20201. Then again, people probably thought Gone With the Wind would last more than a few weeks on HBO Max too.

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