A civil rights group wants to see “Cops” on permanent lockdown.
ColorOfChange has asked Fox not to renew the unscripted law-enforcement show and is calling upon advertisers to withdraw support, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
This morning, the group is sending supporters an email in which it asks them to sign a petition to that effect.
“Although marketed as unbiased, ‘Cops’ actually offers a highly filtered version of crime and the criminal justice system — a ‘reality’ where the police are always competent, crime-solving heroes and where the bad boys always get caught,” the email reads in part.
It goes on to charge “Cops” and shows like it with over-representing whites as police officers and under-representing minorities as authority figures. According to ColorOfChange, “Cops” glosses over issues such as police misconduct and broadcasts “dehumanizing portrayals” of suspects.
“We’re sending the message to Fox and to advertisers that Cops is not worth saving,” says Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.
A Fox rep tells THR the network has not made a decision on “Cops” and said it would not comment on the petition.
“Cops,” now in its 25th season, has long delivered strong ratings for the network at a relatively low cost. However, Fox cut back its order for “Cops” from 22 episodes last season to 16 this season in favor of beefing up its sports programming on Saturday nights, which is when “Cops” airs.
In its criticism of “Cops,” ColorOfChange points to research it says media representations such as those on Cops can lead to stigmatization of black men.
“Against the real-world backdrop of an American culture that views young men like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Russell Davis with suspicion,” the email continues, “the stakes couldn’t be higher.”
In January, ColorOfChange launched a similar campaign against “All My Babies’ Mamas,” a reality special in development at Oxygen, which centered on rapper Shawty Lo, who has 11 children with 10 different women. Its petition attracted more than 40,000 signatures and Oxygen eventually shelved the project.
“Cops’” one-hour season finale airs May 4 at 8 p.m. on Fox.