Wayland Student Press

BREAKING NEWS: Students enraged over decision to cancel showing of “Cool Runnings”

Pictured+above+is+the+Jamaican+bobsled+team+the+that+film+%22Cool+Runnings%22+centers+around.+After+the+showing+of+the+movie+at+WHS+was+canceled%2C+there+was+backlash+from+many+students.
Pictured above is the Jamaican bobsled team the that film

Pictured above is the Jamaican bobsled team the that film "Cool Runnings" centers around. After the showing of the movie at WHS was canceled, there was backlash from many students.

Pictured above is the Jamaican bobsled team the that film "Cool Runnings" centers around. After the showing of the movie at WHS was canceled, there was backlash from many students.

Nathan Zhao

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At 2:48 p.m. on Tuesday, January 30th Principal Allyson Mizoguchi announced to WHS students over email that the showing of Cool Runnings on Wednesday would be canceled due to the “criticism related to racially insensitive portrayals of characters in the movie.”

Almost immediately after Mizoguchi announced the cancellation of the movie, students began to “reply all” to the all-school email. As of 10:50 p.m., the original thread has more than 165 replies, ranging from short outbursts to lengthy responses. The prevailing sentiment of the responses was one of intense dissatisfaction.

Sophomore Sidney Toga was one of the first students to respond in detail.

“In 1988, a group of four Jamaicans traveled to the Winter Olympics, hoping to break stereotypes. These four individuals only had a dream. They had a dream to prove that they and anyone could compete in anything, no matter what it was,” Toga wrote in his reply. “The fact that the administration has come up with the idea that this movie shows racially insensitive portrayals of characters is absolutely and utterly absurd.”

“As a person who has seen this movie many times and as a person of color, I would like to point out that this movie has nothing to do with racism at all,” sophomore Michayla Mathis wrote. “Actually, it focuses on [the characters’] struggle[s] to prove people wrong who doubt them.”

Junior Tucker Jones echoed Mathis’ and Toga’s sentiment.

“The whole idea of the movie is about proving people wrong and to show how anything is possible. I am very disappointed!” Jones wrote.

One student began a petition opposing the cancellation of the movie. As of 11:50 p.m., the petition has 183 signatures.

Other students were more opposed to the decision to not show a replacement of Cool Runnings. They emphasized the effective lack of ability to relax after midterms. According to them, not showing a movie challenges the underlying principle of winter week.

“It feels like we haven’t gotten any type of break after studying and stressing so much. I still have the same amount of class work and homework like any other week,” sophomore Quinn Fay wrote.

Mizoguchi responded to the remarks about whether the movie is racist in a separate email chain sent at 9:39 p.m.. In it, she cites two articles, one from Slate (2014) and one from the Washington Post (1993). As of 10:50 p.m., there are 12 replies to this chain.

“I caution you to separate your disappointment about not being shown a movie tomorrow (any movie) from the reasons for the decision not to show Cool Runnings specifically,” Mizoguchi wrote. “There are plenty of articles out there celebrating the positive messages of Cool Runnings, too — as you know, it’s hard but necessary work to weigh and reconcile these varied points of view.”

In regard to the lack of a replacement, Mizoguchi wrote that while the administration had considered switching out the movie, technological issues made this difficult.

“Due to technological issues, we weren’t confident we could pull it off in time,” Mizoguchi wrote. “Also, Student Council had already run a process, and with the short timeframe, an alternative choice felt uncomfortably arbitrary.”

Mizoguchi also warned students of replying with inappropriate remarks. While not referencing the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) directly, she spoke to a higher honor code that, according to her, WHS students ought to follow.

“While I applaud the open dialogue, I also want to make sure that you understand the importance and necessity of being appropriate and responsible in your ‘all school’ email messages,” Mizoguchi wrote.

She noted that students will be able to discuss the movie in advisory and during a lunchtime dialogue session on January 31.

As of 10:50 p.m. on January 30, only one student has responded to the email explicitly in favor of the administration’s decision. A preliminary survey conducted by WSPN of 115 students (or 13.5 percent of WHS’ population) indicates that 2 students, or 1.7 percent of the sample, support the administration’s decision, while 113 students, or 98.3 percent of the sample, oppose the administration’s decision regarding Cool Runnings. 100 percent of students who responded indicated that they would want to see a movie being shown, whether it was Cool Runnings or a different movie.*

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Check back for an update about the cancellation of the movie and contact [email protected] or [email protected] if you would like your voice to be heard. Any and all opinions are welcome.

*As with any study, this survey was subject to typical sampling variation as well as possible voluntary response bias. Statistically, they are only meant to obtain a sample of the students at WHS and are not necessarily representative of the entire student body. The data from these studies are presented for readers to make their own conclusions.

 

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About the Writer
Nathan Zhao, Editor-in-Chief

Nathan Zhao, class of 2019, is a co-editor-in-chief of WSPN. This is his fourth year on staff. Previously to becoming EIC, Nathan served as the news section editor for two years. Outside of WSPN, Nathan cross-country skis and rows for Wayland High School and Wayland-Weston Crew. He is captain of the speech and debate and MUN teams at WHS. Nathan also serves as the class of 2019’s Treasurer and is an Eagle Scout. In his free time, he enjoys debating, camping and eating sushi.

Contact: [email protected]

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “BREAKING NEWS: Students enraged over decision to cancel showing of “Cool Runnings””

  1. huh? on January 31st, 2018 8:01 AM

    If you are around my age you’ll remember the stunning film, Cool Runnings. It was all about true story that we were too young to have experienced in real life, and although presented as a comedy, it was a truly inspiring piece of drama — very moving in many places.

    It was a story of perseverance against all the odds; about overcoming prejudice; a true underdog story — we love them — where in the end the underdog won. No, they didn’t get a “Hollywood” win, where the facts of events are made to fit a formula for the American market as with many World War II films. The team still lost the race. But they won the respect of everyone there. They crashed out their tattered old bobsled but, dammit, they stood the hell up and walked it over the line. They were heroic in the truest of senses.

    The film also played out the same narrative structures within the team — a microcosm, so to speak. John Candy’s character overcame his shameful past in the competition for his final race. I often hear people refer to “Cool Runnings” as his final film — it wasn’t, but it was his final great film. There was also triumph for each of the characters in the team. Junior had to stand up to his father and win his respect — a kind of coming of age — whereas Yul had to learn tolerance…and not kill Sanka.

    I always thought the film was was a model of pure dramatic genius in its very subtle attack on racism. It wasn’t a tool of racist voice — it took prejucide by the balls and made a mockery of it. It self-celebrated and self-depreceated in such a way that talking in a kind of muted, filmic patois was simply…cool. I say that because what it did was embrace casual racism in such a way that it took the steam out of truly racist people’s jibes. It celebrated Jamaican culture — it made being, looking, sounding, singing, and being all things Jamaican totally and utterly cool! And it did it at a time when the word “cool” mattered.

    But it wasn’t a film for black or Jamaican people, and nor was the core message about racism at all. It was a film for everyone — a family film that excluded only one kind of person: a racist. Meanwhile, the rest of us loved it. It’s a generational classic; it’s one of Candy’s best films; and it’s a film that kind of put the winter Olympics on the radar somewhat more.

  2. fox and friends on January 31st, 2018 7:25 PM

    you know this is big when this story front pages on fox25.

    http://www.fox25boston.com/news/local

  3. A C on February 5th, 2018 11:40 PM

    Per the linked Washington Post: “this movie would have to work double time to really offend anyone.”

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BREAKING NEWS: Students enraged over decision to cancel showing of “Cool Runnings”