Criminal Justice: Televisual Policing in the Age of Disillusionment
This paper argues that the popular television series The Blacklist (2013-present) marks a turn in “terror TV” (Tasker) towards criminals being the better police as trust in traditional law enforcement evaporates post 9/11. While traditional crime and procedural dramas such as NCIS still exist, terror TV such as The Blacklist represents a shift in the stability of the genre and reflects a deep sense of global precarity.
While the first decade of the new millennium saw a surge of superhero movie franchises celebrating American exceptionalism and heroic individualism, the second decade is beginning to show cracks in this facade of the classic American hero. Faced with terror abroad and at home, and transnational crime/terror organisations more advanced and better organised than any governmental agency, law enforcement agencies are deemed inadequate, hindered, even crippled, by moral, ethical and legal requirements.
The Blacklist renders the traditional forces of the law close to impotent, and displays a distinctly post-9/11 loss of trust in, and growing frustration with, traditional institutions of law enforcement and government.
Katharina Bonzel is a lecturer in screen studies in SLLL. She is the coeditor of Representations of Sports Coaches in Film: Looking to Win and her monograph National Pastimes: Cinema, Sports, and Nation will be released with the University of Nebraska Press in autumn 2019.