This is a post about our being in possession of a new cache of images of policemen behaving badly. Plus ça change, eh?
OK, maybe some context is needed here: The images in question are new screens from This Is The Police, which completed a successful Kickstarter campaign this February and is slated for a December release. The game tells the story of a police chief who, with six months until his retirement, decides to cash in on his position and power, legality be damned! The consequences can quickly spiral: people who sincerely believe they are carrying out their duties can do tremendous damage; just imagine how much can go wrong when there isn’t even the slightest pretense of professionalism.
And now we have more pictures. They’re quite nice as far as images of social decay go. This Is The Police’s colours occasionally break from its mainly—and appropriately—brownish palette to great effect. But what really stands out in the latest batch of images is the game’s selective use of abstraction. This Is The Police never pursues photorealism, but different classes of people get different levels of humanity. More specifically, the police have faces and the citizenry is largely faceless. (One exception to this rule: People have faces in mugshots used by the police. That doesn’t really change the power dynamic.
This Is The Police does not appear to be explicitly concerned with systemic problems with policing, but even its extreme portrayal of policing goes awry has a certain amount of resonance. Whenever an encounter with police does not end well, which is to say just about every day, some—but crucially not all—parties are allowed to keep their humanity. Some get to be family people with aspirations and interests. Others are “no angel.” You can guess who is whom. This Is The Police is not about Michael Brown or Eric Garner or Freddie Gray, but the pattern its visuals reference sure is familiar.
See all the new screenshots from This Is The Police right here.