Cop Land: An Interview With the Anti-Banality Union About Their New Movie, Police Mortality
In their first movie Unclear Holocaust, the anonymous crew of remix provocateurs who call themselves the Anti-Banality Union sliced up decades-worth of Hollywood disaster movies to create a troubling and frequently hilarious critique of the post-9/11 security state and Hollywood's own civilizational deathwish. You can watch Unclear Holocaust and read our interview with its creators here.
Now the Anti-Banality Union is back with a new film, Police Mortality, which is at least as likely as its predecessor to offend, infuriate, delight, and disturb. You can watch the movie in its entirety below. The Voice sat down with the filmmakers recently to talk about what they learned by watching 180 police movies, their belief that movies accurately predict our future, Christopher Dorner, and their plans to build a participatory apocalypse.
Here's that interview, condensed and edited for clarity:
How did Police Mortality come about?
We were in court, waiting for a friend to get out after the December 17 protests, and we were having violent fantasies. At first the idea was very juvenile. It was going to be a totally encyclopedic assembly of every cop death in every Hollywood movie - no plot whatsoever, almost mathematically edited together. The scale of it was then revised. We wound up using 122 out of 180 movies that we watched.
How would you describe the narrative arc? It begins with a police suicide, and then, in a way that kind of mirrors Unclear Holocaust, the mechanism is set into motion.
There's a detective narrative form that's so popular, especially on television, where you're given a crime at the beginning, as a fact, and then you proceed backwards and reconstruct the crime in order to solve it. In Police Mortality, and in actuality, it's the inverse. You have the necessity for crime - a lack of crime - you set about producing the crime, the criminal, and criminality in general in order to justify your employment and existential role as a cop. Instead of a retroactive reconstruction of crime, it's an anteroactive pre-construction of crime.
So this initial non-crime bubbles into a multiplicity of crimes.
Every event in the film proceeds by the production of new forms of crime, which engenders some form of resistance, which is reintegrated as crime or as a new improvement upon the police force. Which could even be viewed as entrapment. All these cops are entrapped into killing other cops, and it spirals out of control. It's a very difficult game of management that the police are always playing with producing crime and then managing it, reintegrating it, making it useful to police strategy. But always with the risk that they're going to create something unmanageable, anarchic, and world-creating. This was a cleavage at OWS: did the cops lead us onto the bridge, or not? Very few people wanted to admit that we did it. Are we even doing these things of our own volition, or are we being entrapped constantly?
So much of the discussion after the bridge arrests consisted of people trying to shift responsibility for this bold iconic action onto the police. "The police tricked us into that dramatic gesture that we made!"
The agency was elsewhere. That was extremely sad. In the early days, there was this optimism that eventually died, that said, "The cops are going to join us!" But the reverse is happening at the moment of that utterance. Who's joining who? We especially heard the cliche, "You'll see when they come for your pensions!" Well, they're going to come for the police pensions last. And if their pensions were taken away, they'd be quickly reintegrated into the private sector. We saw how JP Morgan Chase makes a magical $5 million donation to the NYPD when someone starts demonstrating against them. That dystopian idea in Robocop, where a corporation forecloses on a city and turns the police into a private militia, is not so dystopian. Bloomberg already publicly refers to the NYPD as his "private army".
Everyone I've spoken to about this movie has said, "I need to see Robocop again. That movie is important now in a way that I didn't even realize."
Agreed. Robocop emerges as the unlikely leader of the strike committee. He goes in to the precinct as a scab, and then kills all the scabs. He turns into the charismatic leader of the People's Revolutionary Strike Force, leading the picket line, agitating, "Are we cops?" And he becomes the victim of the most ceremonious martyrdom in the end. He's one Christopher Dorner stand-in among many.