Controversy erupted at a Massachusetts high school this week when its principal iced plans to screen “Cool Runnings,” a live-action Disney comedy about the Jamaican national bobsled team’s Olympic debut, citing the film’s potentially “culturally and racially insensitive” content.
Students at Wayland High School in Wayland, a suburb of Boston, were scheduled to watch the movie during the middle of their annual post-midterms “winter week,” but the screening was canceled over concerns raised with their principal, Allyson Mizoguchi.
“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,” Ms. Mizoguchi wrote in a campus-wide email sent Tuesday, Boston’s Fox 25 reported.
The principal’s email triggered students to fire off more than 150 responses, and on Wednesday the school held an “emergency forum” to discuss the decision, the report said.
“While our students did not have a chance to experience 90 minutes of comedic relief in the form of an all-school movie, many of them have engaged in valuable discussions and have thought critically about the information they consume whether they agreed with the decision or not,” Ms. Mizoguchi wrote in an email sent to parents Wednesday, The Metrowest Daily News reported.
Released in 1993, “Cool Runnings” loosely recalls the Jamaican bobsled team’s first Winter Olympics appearance five years earlier in Calgary, Alberta.
“The movie is not really overtly racist,” Ms. Mizoguchi explained to Boston’s Daily News. “It is the subtlety of stereotypes in the movie,” she said.
Only two out of 115 students supported the principal’s decision to cancel the “Cool Runnings” screening, the student newspaper reported, according to Fox 25.