NW Film Center in Portland, Oregon, planned to open its summer drive-in series with “Kindergarten Cop,” a 1990 action-comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
However, the center decided to pull the movie from its summer lineup after “staff and community members,” including Portland author Lois Leveen, complained that the movie’s pro-cop message is unsuited for today’s political climate, Willamette Week reported Monday.
“Kindergarten Cop” stars Schwarzenegger as Detective John Kimble, a “tough cop” who “must pose as a kindergarten teacher in order to locate a dangerous criminal’s ex-wife,” according to IMDb.
Filmed in the city of Astoria in northwest Oregon, the movie was chosen as part of the lineup because of “its importance in Oregon filmmaking history,” NW Film Center said.
The film center added a second showing of “Good Trouble,” the new documentary about the late congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, in place of “Kindergarten Cop.”
The additional showing on August 6 replaces Kindergarten Cop, which had been chosen for its importance in Oregon filmmaking history.
— NW Film Center (@nwfilmcenter) August 3, 2020
Lois Leveen — whose writings include “The Secrets of Mary Bowser,” a Civil War novel about a slave who becomes a Union spy — tweeted her displeasure with the showing.
“What’s so funny about School-to-Prison pipeline?” Leveen said Saturday. “Kindergarten Cop-Out: Tell @nwfilmcenter there’s nothing fun in cops traumatizing kids. National reckoning on overpolicing is a weird time to revive Kindergarten Cop. IRL, we are trying to end school-to-prison pipeline.”
“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,” she said in follow-up tweets.
“5- 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.”
Leveen added, “Yes, 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.’ They are relics of how pop culture feeds racist assumptions. KINDERGARTEN COP romanticizes over-policing in the U.S.”
After the author received some criticism for her stance, she set her Twitter account to “protected” status, allowing only her followers to view her tweets. The Daily Mail, however, captured screen shots of them.
Leveen’s criticism regarding the school-to-prison pipeline misses the plot of the film: As an undercover cop, Schwarzenegger’s character isn’t a school resource officer. He’s not there to “criminalize” the students. He’s there to get a drug dealer off the streets.
The author went on to compare “Kindergarten Cop” to the 1915 silent film “Birth of a Nation,” which inspired the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan, and 1939’s “Gone with the Wind,” which recently came under scrutiny for its portrayal of race.
Leveen seems to suggest, in a roundabout way, that simply showing a cop at a school in a good light is racist — akin to promoting slavery or the KKK.
This is patently absurd.
Most school resource officers are good people, committed to the kids in their community. Most do not harbor secret racial animus.
However, the definition of “racism” changes constantly these days, expanding to cover many things that aren’t racist at all.
This would now appear to include any positive portrayal of the police.
Anti-cop sentiment is high, and Leveen’s opinion is far from uncommon, but NW Film Center should have stuck to its original lineup.
It’s a shame to see another company cave to the pressure of cancel culture. Unless more people stand up against it, cancel culture will continue to grow.
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