Yes, I have seen Cool Runnings.
No, I don't like it. In fact, there are few crappy movies that I so fervently despise for their ties to my national identity. Shottas and Rude Boys are close to the top of that list, but I won't get into a discussion about those two films (if you can even call them that) right now. One of the reasons (I suppose the main reason) I hate Cool Runnings so much is not so much the fact that it, like some other popular Hollywood movies, succeeded once again in portraying people from the Caribbean as buffoons. That, I've come to expect from Hollywood films - this idea that we island people only hang out and live "right by di beach, bwoy!"(Half Baked), smoke weed and don't do much else. Cool Runnings has managed to slightly separate itself from the rest by taking a few more ambitious buffoons and placing them in a groundbreaking moment in sporting history. Inspiring story of these four with nothing serious going on in their lives, blah blah blah, when in fact, three of the members of the real bobsled team were in the military. The fourth member was a railway engineer.
But, that stuff, the idiotic portrayal of our people as laid-back (read as lazy), not taking life too seriously and not really knowledgeable about the outside world, that's not what really gets to me about this movie. What really annoys me is how ubiquitous it is outside of Jamaica as a frame of reference when talking about Jamaica. I can't count the number of times I've had this conversation since moving to Japan:
Person X (usually a new student): What's your name?
Me: I'm Biankah. And you?
X: My name is ____. Nice to meet you.
Me: Nice to meet you too. Are you from Tokyo/Saitama?
X: Yes/No, etc. Where are you from?
X: [Did you say] America?
Me: No, no. Jamaica.
X: Where is Jamaica? Africa?
Me: No. It's pretty close to Florida, actually. (I then pull out a world map or atlas.)
X: Ah! Jamaica! I watched the movie Cool Runnings. Do you know [it]?
Me: (wearily) Yes, I've seen it.
X: I thought it was very interesting.
Me: Really? (I then force a smile, groan inaudibly and mentally put a loaded pistol to my head.)
That's what happens six out of ten times. Since the Beijing Olympics, (thank god), people more often bring up our track and field team in conversation upon hearing where I'm from. Sadly though, there are still more people who refer to that damned movie, and who honestly believe that it presents a realistic portrayal of life in Jamaica. It makes me sick.
So, to anyone out there who might read this before meeting me in person:
I hate the movie and I don't want to talk about it again.