“Smith and Wesson and me”: Weapon Product Placement, screen culture and policing
Dr Richard Evans1, Dr Clare Farmer1
1Deakin University, Ocean Grove, Australia
The practice of Weapon Product Placement (WPP), by which arms manufacturers give financial and other incentives for their products to be displayed and used in fictional screen dramas, is well-known in the screen industry. In this paper, we build the case that WPP has particularly dangerous potential in relations to depictions of policing. The repeated depiction on screen of police using firearms to bravely and successfully resolve conflict or prevent disaster influences public expectations about the roles, equipment and techniques police can and should use. We argue that, just as positive depictions of tobacco use have been successfully barred from mainstream cinema and television, positive depictions of police gun violence should be subject to stringent rules.
Dr Richard Evans is an Honorary Fellow at Deakin University, Geelong. He is the author, with Dr Clare Farmer, of Do Police Need Guns? The past, present and future of policing and firearms (Springer 2020). He and Dr Farmer are currently editing a follow-up volume, Policing & Firearms – New Perspectives and Insights, which will be published by Springer next year.