Policing through parody with Wellington Paranormal (2019)
Type of ContentJournal Article
- Arts: Journal Articles 
In late 2018, the New Zealand Police released a series of paranormal-themed road safety videos hosted by fictional Officers Minogue and O’Leary, the bumbling comic double act who helm the deadpan mockumentary series Wellington Paranormal (2018-). The Police’s appropriation of these explicitly parodic characters here, as well as in promotional and recruitment material, is highly unusual. This is because Wellington Paranormal deftly mimics the representational and rhetorical strategies by which Police-sanctioned communications, such as the popular factual series Police Ten 7, use irony and understatement to manufacture a favourable image of the Police as stoic, reasonable, and good-humoured. However, the deadpan humour employed by Wellington Paranormal and Police Ten 7 operates on the basis of absence – of affect and of clear interpretive cues – which means that the inclusion of Officers O’Leary and Minogue in official Police communications represents a fascinating site of ideological contestation. This article argues that the multiple registers of mockumentary and deadpan humour open up a playful, transgressive space for satirical commentary that is not neutralised by the characters’ co-option. As such, this article asks: to what extent might parodic materials become complicit in the power structures that they are critiquing, and where might the spectator sit within this dynamic?
CitationErin Harrington (2019): Policing through parody with Wellington Paranormal, Continuum. Published online: 05 Dec 2019.
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KeywordsWellington Paranormal; New Zealand Police; Police Ten 7; mockumentary; deadpan comedy
ANZSRC Fields of Research47 - Language, communication and culture::4701 - Communication and media studies
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