The 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle "Kindergarten Cop" turns 30 this year. And it was filmed in Astoria, Oregon, so it was to be included in a festival of Drive-In movies that starts Thursday for "its importance in Oregon filmmaking history." The operative word being "was," because the NW Film Center, which is running the movie series is caving in to one Twitterer who complained. Despite the fact the first showing was sold out.
Source - On Saturday, Portland author Lois Leveen—whose writing credits include contributions to The New York Times and The Atlantic and the book The Secrets of Mary Bowser, a novel based on the life of a slave-turned-Union spy—took to Twitter to excoriate the organization for leading off its series with the movie.
"National reckoning on overpolicing is a weird time to revive Kindergarten Cop. IRL, we are trying to end the school-to-prison pipeline," she tweeted. "There's nothing entertaining about the presence of police in schools, which feeds the 'school-to-prison' pipeline in which African American, Latinx and other kids of color are criminalized rather than educated. Five- and 6-year-olds are handcuffed and hauled off to jail routinely in this country. And this criminalizing of children increases dramatically when cops are assigned to work in schools."
In a message sent to WW over the weekend with the subject line "Kindergarten Cop-Out: Why Does NW Film Center Think There's Anything Fun About Cops Traumatizing Schoolchildren," Leveen elaborated on her concerns.
"It's true Kindergarten Cop is only a movie. So are Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind, but we recognize films like those are not 'good family fun,'" she wrote. "They are relics of how pop culture feeds racist assumptions."
"Because despite what the movie shows," she continued, "in reality, schools don't transform cops. Cops transform schools, and in an extremely detrimental way."
For the record, I am not familiar with the work of author and NYTs and The Atlantic contributor Lois Leveen. Though a quick check of her protected Twitter account reveals she has 535 followers. Who must be among the most powerful an influential figures in the northwestern United States because they managed to cancel a movie showing that a multitude of parents wanted to bring their kids to. Parents so bored with lockdown that they're even willing to sit through a lesser Schwarzenegger comedy just to get the fuck out of the house for a night.
Still, consider me educated. I saw "Kindergarten Cop" and I missed all the major themes Lois Leveen picked up on. I simply took it as a weird mashup of genre films. Where an Arnold action movie filled with his signature wisecracking ultraviolence was welded to a wacky family comedy with awkward results. And at the end, he learns a lesson, turns in his badge and decides to become a teacher. Roll credits.
But I completely whiffed on the larger themes of "criminalizing children" and kindergartners being led away in handcuffs en masse as a result of this 30 year old film. And that's on me. I guess during that time in Arnold's career, I was more focused on the plight of single mothers being hunted by killer cyborgs, mercenaries committing violence against invisible aliens in the rainforest, the government turning our justice system into a deadly game show and evil corporations exploiting the natural resources of Mars to worry about the problem that was right in front of us. Consider me educated. And I appreciate Lois for saving all those schoolchildren from the trauma of Schwarzenegger's Officer John Kimble exchanging zany one-liners with a bunch of adorable waifs.
Fortunately, the NWFC changed the film to suit Lois Leveen's demands. And unfortunately, got exactly the response you'd expect any time you capitulate to the Lois Leveens of the world.
Source - Leveen reacted to the statement with disdain and said the NWFC should have admitted to making a blunder and apologized for it.
"I think what you meant to type was, 'Yes, we made a grave error in not realizing the implicit racism in that programming decision. We apologize and are rethinking who makes our programming decisions hereafter,'" she tweeted. "How deep a white normativity hole will @nwfilmcenter keep digging?"
Since we're all learning something today, here's a lesson on why you never give in and never apologize.