Do you feel the rhythm? Do you feel the rhyme? Give it up, you're being racially insensitive.
A screening of the 1993 movie "Cool Runnings," starring the late-John Candy, about the creation of the Jamaican bobsled team was canceled at Wayland High School because some social justice warrior found it racially insensitive.
For those too young to remember having a childhood in 1993, "Cool Runnings" was one of those Disney underdog movies in the vein of "Mighty Ducks" that told the true story of the Jamaican bobsled team that debuted during the 1988 Winter Olympics. With a predominantly black cast, the movie tells the story entirely from the Jamaican's perspective, albeit in a quasi-comedic tone.
It was "winter week" at Wayland High School, a time for students to relax after the stress of mid-terms. For one of the days, the student council selected the PG-rated "Cool Runnings" for a school screening. Hours after announcing the pick, the principal sent the following email:
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.
After a few brief Google searches realizing what "Cool Runnings" was about, students were none too thrilled about the political correctness and responded to the email with outrage.
"It's a PG movie for kids 8 and above... we are 8 and above," said one student.
"Jamaica is sending their first women's bobsled team this year, why not, this is the perfect time to show this movie," said another.
A survey in the student paper found only 2 students out of 115 supported the principal's decision.