School cancels movie showing after student claims it's "racially insensitive"

WAYLAND, Mass. - Drama at Wayland High School over a movie made 25 years ago about a famous Olympic bobsled team.
The 1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team pictured in Disney's "Cool Runnings" is known by most as one of the most famous Olympic underdog stories, but at Wayland High School, the PG movie made for kids 25 years ago has become a source of outrage.
"Cool Runnings" came out seven years before the oldest students were born, so many of them hadn't heard of it until this week. 
It's "winter week" at Wayland High School, meant for students to relax after midterms. Each Wednesday of the winter week features a movie and the student council announced Tuesday that "Cool Runnings" was this year's pick. 
But hours later, the principal sent an email to students saying the movie was canceled: 
"Winter Week is a long-standing tradition at WHS in which students engage in enrichment activities during the week following midyear exams.  For the last two years, Winter Week has included a movie viewed simultaneously by all students.  The viewing of this movie, selected by Student Council, is for the purpose of bringing the school together by means of a story with a positive message.  
Following the recent announcement that Cool Runnings would be the movie shown this year, I received concerns from members of our community that raised my awareness about elements of the movie that could be viewed as culturally and racially insensitive.  After researching these concerns further, I felt that Cool Runnings no longer fit the purpose, values, and scheduling format for an all-school event.  I decided to cancel today’s showing.
While disappointing for students, I want to emphasize that this experience has inspired productive, honest conversation about stereotypes in the media, the nature of narrative, and subtle, racially insensitive messages as compared to overt racism.   
More than anything, this event has demonstrated that active and engaged citizenship at WHS is alive and well.  I am proud of the students who have listened carefully, challenged respectfully, and reflected deeply during this experience."  
Allyson Mizoguchi, Principal, Wayland High School.

That started a reply-all chain with more than 150 responses from students, and has now turned into full blown outrage. 
The email firestorm prompted the principal to schedule an emergency forum with students who showed up armed with Google research.
"It's a PG movie for kids 8 and above... we are 8 and above."
"Jamaica is sending their first women's bobsled team this year, why not, this is the perfect time to show this movie."
In the past 24 hours, many of the students have become "Cool Runnings" experts, without ever having seen it, but after school? The plans were pretty similar for everyone. 
"I'm definitely gonna go home and Netflix."
"Gonna go home and watch the movie anyway."
"I'm gonna go home and watch it on Netflix."
Survey by the student paper of 115 students showed only 2 supported the principal's decision. 

1 comment:

  1. It is getting harder and harder to figure out the "true age" of students today. From what I see in this case there are some who should not see this movie because they are simply not "mature' enough to understand humor. When my kids were 4,5, & 6 years old we watched this and they almost died laughing, but I digress. Maybe the school should place these "children" into the classes to which they can best relate, and show the movie to the others.


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