Kindergarten Cop, the 1990 PG-13 movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a detective who goes undercover as a kindergarten school teacher to take down a drug kingpin, has been pulled from a Portland, Ore., drive-in festival after accusations the film “romanticizes over-policing.”
Local publication Williamette Week reports that the NW Film Center had planned to kick off Cinema Unbound, its summer drive-in movie series, with a screening of the dramedy. The movie, shot in Astoria, Ore., was meant to highlight the importance of local filmmaking at the festival, while also celebrating its 30th year since release.
The cancellation comes after Portland-area author Lois Leveen took issue with the movie’s selection, calling it “a weird time to revive Kindergarten Cop” in a series of tweets on Aug. 1 addressed to the film centre. (Leveen has since made her Twitter account private.)
“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,” continued her 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.
“Because despite what the movie shows, in reality, schools don’t transform cops. Cops transform schools, and in an extremely detrimental way.”
“Yes, Kindergarten Cop is only a movie,” she elaborated. “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.”
NW Film Center replied to Leveen on Twitter, saying they made the decision to replace Kindergarten Cop following “overwhelming demand” and “discussion with staff and community members.”
“Thank you for your feedback. Due to overwhelming demand, the Northwest Film Center has added a second showing of John Lewis: Good Trouble,” reads their response in part.
The controversy comes amid protests all over the United States against police brutality and the death of George Floyd. Portland-specific demonstrations have continued for 10 straight weeks.
In early June, reality TV show Cops, which showed police on the job for more than 30 years, was cancelled after accusations that it glorified police brutality for entertainment. Similarly, Live P.D., another live-shot police show, was cancelled shortly thereafter.