The Strangely Affirming ‘Film the Police’

There is something oddly affirming about this rap video ‘Film the Police’. (Warning: cruelty and bad words you probably don’t want your toddler learning.)


I am not usually a big fan of rap; although I’ve heard a few very striking and wonderful rap pieces, on the whole my liking for rap tends to be one notch above ‘take it or leave it’: I’ll take it if there’s nothing else on.

Why then do I say a rap video about police brutality is affirming? For one thing, I am cheered that this piece of resistance starts with a judicial trope. The counter-culture assuming the judicial robe is older than I am (and even I just barely recall here come da judge), but it is still cheerful to see it continued, or revived. There’s still some deep resonance about the idea that the rule of law might be something that can be appropriated and turned on the powers that be.

Even more affirming is the central assumption: publicizing state-sponsored violence can end it. And it might be true.

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One Response to The Strangely Affirming ‘Film the Police’

  1. Shane Smith says:

    Prof. Froomkin,

    For your information, this song is basically a copy of the 1988 “Fuck the Police” by N.W.A. The album, when released, was incendiary; my own mother literally took a hammer to the tape version I purchased. What the album, and specifically the song, addressed was the extreme and unreported levels of violence those in ‘urban’ communities faced at the hands of police. The most notable members of the group included Dr. Dre (Dre for Beats Headphones, “The Chronic” and “The Chronic 2001”, producer of stars from Eminem to 50 Cent, etc.), Ice Cube (“Are We There Yet” movie series, albums “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted”, and “Death Certificate” to name a few), and Eazy-E who died of AIDS in 1995.
    One of the lines that sticks in my mind from the song is by Ice Cube who ponders, “I don’t know if they fags or what…searchin’ a nigga down and grabbing his nuts.” This is interesting considering the rumors I have been hearing lately from my friends in Atlanta and surrounding communities. Allegedly, police in some Georgia precincts have began aggressively “searching” the genitalia of suspects. When the suspect responds in any way to this overly intrusive method of search, they are slapped with resisting arrest or in the extreme, a battery on a LEO.
    Of course, these are rumors that I have not confirmed, but this is how information passes in many ‘urban’ communities, further creating distrust for the police. For many in the ‘urban’ community (we should note that ‘urban’ is the new nigger), information is passed and learned through rap media. Rap media is the new quilt. It looks and sounds like a bunch of nonsense, but there is genius between the lines if you understand the patterns.


    Shane Smith

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