Chase is on the case — and in the pillory, it seems.
"Paw Patrol" might seem like an unlikely chapter in the reckoning with race and police brutality currently gripping the country.
But the Nickelodeon children's cartoon found itself right in the middle of the debate this week, as a New York Times op-ed presented the argument the show's pushing of the "good-cop archetype" was problematic.
The animated series, aimed at preschoolers, is about a team of eight puppies (originally six) under the command of a boy named Ryder, who help the local residents; the dogs are led by a police German Shepherd named Chase.
In her piece entitled "The Protests Come for 'Paw Patrol'", author Amanda Hess asserted: "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 argued that the effort to publicize police brutality also means banishing the good-cop archetype.
"'Paw Patrol' seems harmless enough, and that's the point: The movement rests on understanding that cops do plenty of harm."
Hess highlights how all police procedurals on TV are now being re-examined through a new lens in the wake of the George Floyd protests, whose death beneath the knee of a Minneapolis police officer sparked furious backlash across America and the world: actors who play police are criticizing their own shows, "Cops" was cancelled after 33 seasons; even LEGO has pulled police-themed sets.
She pointed to the show's "bland" tweet on June 7, in which it declared it was muting its content in solidarity with the Amplify Melanated Voices movement:
What the fuck is wrong with you all??? It’s a fucking kids show! Y’all need to get over yourselves and move the hell on and stop with all this bullshit! Everyone is sick and tired of all this “oh that offends me take it down or I’m gonna throw a tantrum” grow the hell up!
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”.
In yet another eerie instance of satirical publication The Onion predicting the news, in 2018 it published an article about the show's writers defending an episode in which Chase shoots an unarmed black Labrador in the back 17 times.
It's not the first time Paw Patrol has been accused of sinister shenanigans either; this 2018 Medium post, which has almost 6k upvotes, depicts the show as "a soft and cuddly mirror of Donald Trump's violent and misogynistic America" — with Chase's use of drone surveillance a particular bone of contention.
Last week Nickelodeon made headlines when it interrupted its programming to broadcast a black screen with the words "I can't breathe" — soundtracked by a man's purposeful breathing — for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd's neck.