Paw Patrol, the massively popular Nickelodeon Jr. cartoon featuring a crew of dogs in search and rescue positions, has come under fire after voicing their support for “black voices” as critics take issue with the show’s positive portrayal of law enforcement.
On June 2nd, in an effort to show their support for the ongoing protests and discussions surrounding the death of George Floyd, the official Paw Patrol Twitter account announced they would “be muting our content until June 7th to give access for Black voices to be heard so we can continue to listen and further our learning.”
In solidarity of #amplifymelanatedvoices we will be muting our content until June 7th to give access for Black voices to be heard so we can continue to listen and further our learning. #amplifyblackvoices pic.twitter.com/NO2KeQjpHM
— PAW Patrol (@pawpatrol) June 2, 2020
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This message of support for the black community was soon met with backlash, as activists criticized the character of Chase, the German Shepard police officer member of the Paw Patrol, alleging that his role serves as ‘police propaganda.’
Okay… but also:
-donate to @Blklivesmatter and bail funds
-hire BIPOC writers, animators, voice actors
-reconsider Chase’s police dog portrayal on the show
-reconsider Mayor Goodway’s portrayal + represent more BIPOC characters (and in a more positive/competent light)
— rise above (@somethingamiss) June 2, 2020
Perhaps naming your main character police dog “chase” is a bit tone deaf to the suffering of people who have actually been on the receiving end of dogs used as weapons by the police. My 3 year old calls his stuffed Chase “Jace”.
— Laura C. Bernardo (@LauraCarmella) June 3, 2020
Your show has police propaganda in it so idk
— Rob, IN SPACE (@McGurganatorZX) June 2, 2020
Ok now write an episode where chase joins to abolitionist revolution, defunds and demilitarizes the police and joins the movement.
— Dana Greenfield MD PhD (@DanaGField) June 2, 2020
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While some asserted that these calls for Paw Patrol to remove Chase were satirical, the campaign was reported in earnest by The New York Times, who outright stated that “it’s a joke, but it’s also not,” noting that the “effort to publicize police brutality also means banishing the good-cop archetype.”
Amanda Hess writes, “It’s a joke, but it’s also not. As the protests against racist police violence enter their third week, the charges are mounting against fictional cops, too. Even big-hearted cartoon police dogs — or maybe especially big-hearted cartoon police dogs — are on notice.”
She continues, “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.”
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Hess adds, “The protests arrived in the midst of a pandemic that has alienated Americans from their social ties, family lives and workplaces. New and intense relationships with content have filled the gap, and now our quarantine consumptions are being reviewed with an urgently political eye. The reckoning has come for newspapers, food magazines, Bravo reality shows and police procedurals.”
Initially promising a return on June 7th, as of writing the Paw Patrol account has not posted any updates since their commitment to amplifying black voices.