22 Jump Street and the representation of policing

Posted: March 3, 2015 by kritichopra25 in Uncategorized

Movie Link:
Fictional representation of policing that features police deviance as a major theme: 22 Jump Street

Movie industries all over the world have always had its own take on how policing takes place. However, there are many misconceptions about police officers that are portrayed in these movies. Some movies tend to portray police officers as overly masculine, always-right, gets the job done on time, helps people in the community etc. Whereas, in other movies police officers are depicted as racist, alcoholic, dumber than average, unprofessional and other negative things. Some of these characteristics are seen in the movie 22 Jump Street.
22 Jump Street is an action comedy film directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. This movie was a follow up of 21 Jump Street. The two main characters in the movie are two police officers Schmidt and Jenko who are on the streets chasing narcotics. The Deputy Chief Hardy puts the two officers into an assignment where they go undercover as college students and locate the supplier of a drug known as “WHYPHY” (Work Hard Yes Play Hard Yes) that killed a student photographer buying it on campus. As the movie goes on these two police officers break almost every rule of policing to get the job done. Just like the Dirty Harry movies. The police officers demonstrated many forms of corrupt policing throughout the movie. Living a double life in a new environment presented many problems.
The depiction of police in “22 Jump Street” is not necessarily realistic in any way, shape or form. This gives a very wrong public perception of law enforcement officers. The two cops Schmidt and Jenko are portrayed as these cops that hold a below average common sense and are lazy. In addition, they are also depicted as cops that tend to be “fools” of the situations they find themselves in.
The movie starts with a recap of what happens in “21 Jump Street”. One of the clips used in the recap is of the two cops on bicycles strolling through the park and playing with their firearms, displaying the lack of duties and responsibilities they need to fulfill.
The movie quickly then shifts gears and the two officers (Jenko & Schmidt) are sent to college to solve the given case. For this assignment the department gives the officers an extremely large budget. This includes extensive amounts/variety of firearms, money and other facilities that they do not require to solve the case. Usually, this type of representation makes the public think that their local police department
As the officers get into their assignment, Jenko starts making friends with a pair of jocks named Zook and Rooster. He starts attending parties with the jocks to help him solve the case. However, partying with the college students starts to push Jenko away from his real purpose of being there. Meanwhile, Schmidt starts to talk to an art student, Maya, as he was trying to figure out about the killed student. Later on in the movie, Schmidt and Maya have sexual intercourse with each other. In addition, when Schmidt shares this news with others in the department they give him a pat on the back as it was seen as a great accomplishment for him. This went to show how it was normal for police officers to sleep and party with people without any consequences and it was an accepted norm.
Overtime when the officers fail to find the dealer or any leads per say, they turn to an “expert” for help. The “expert” being an inmate in the jail (that they caught in the last movie). The inmate tells the two to look more closely as he notices a unique tattoo on the arm of the dealer in the photograph. He insists that if they find the tattoo, they will have found their man. The clip shows how the police officers were unable to do their job and had to turn to an ex-criminal for assistant to solve the case. In addition, the way that the inmate speaks to the officer shows that there is no need for people/inmates to talk to people in the position of authority with respect.

They figure out that the person with the tattoo in the picture is just one of the jocks that buys the drugs rather than selling them. But, soon after they find the suspect on the college campus but are unable to catch him.
Closer to the end of the movie, Jenko discloses to Schmidt that he’s been offered a football scholarship and is unsure whether he wants to continue to be a police officer. Jenko was clearly unhappy with his job and the scholarship seemed as a great idea to him. He failed to realize the fact that he was still an undercover police officer and this was a fake life that he was living.
Near the climax, spring break arrives and Schmidt prepares to go after secret suspect alone. Nevertheless, Jenko asks to help so that the two can have one final mission together, and the pair head to the beach where suspect is likely to be dealing WHYPHY. They end up catching him and the movie ends with the two officers solving the case together.
If “22 Jump Street” was compared to a real life police department it would match up in almost no way or form. It fails to follow any of the general core values of policing such as honesty, professionalism, compassion, respect and accountability. However, we have to keep in mind that this movie is made solely for entertainment purposes. And what the public likes to see is things that are far from the normal. Such as, police officers playing with dangerous weapons like they are toys, officers sleeping with people, accidentally trying drugs themselves and so on. In conclusion, movies like this are made for entertainment purposes only and consumers of this type of entertainment should in no way or form take the main themes or messages conveyed by the media as the real forms of policing.

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