Date of Award

August 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Media Studies

First Advisor

Richard K Popp

Committee Members

Elana H Levine, David S Allen


action-comedy, black police officers, buddy-cop, female police officers, police brutality, police film


This study investigates the legitimization of police violence through the use of humor in the buddy-cop-action-comedy film. Following the development of the judicial system and federal, local, and state governments in the militarization of urban police forces between the 1960s and the early 2000s in the U.S. in order to present a picture of how the buddy-cop film genre grew in popularity over the course of the 1980s and onwards. Through an industrial and contextual analysis of two buddy-cop films that attempt to ‘subvert’ the traditional tropes of a buddy-cop film by casting two Black actors in Bad Boys II (2003) and casting two white actresses in The Heat (2013). This study concludes that because police violence is the predominant source of humor in the buddy-cop genre, on-screen diversity, is not enough to remove the legitimization of police violence from the genre.