Andrew Arenas’ Theoretical Analysis of Cool Runnings


The latest theory that we went over in class today was African American Criticism. Within this theory there are distinctive branch groups by categorizing them in terms of three branches: Materialist/Ideology, Literary and Critical Race Theory. A film that I was looking forward to analyzing ever since I got this particular theory assigned is the Disney movie Cool Runnings. It explores themes of perseverance against great odds, cheating, second chances, and developing self-esteem. Watching this movie as a young child, it was a great introduction to what Jamaica is and the Olympics as a whole. Released in the early 90’s Disney, along with other film companies have always been criticized for releasing films with little to no minority stars in them. Times have changed since then with actors from many different racial and cultural backgrounds headlining animated and live action movies like Princess and The Frog and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Cool Runnings is a film based on the inspiring story of the bobsled team sent by Jamaica to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. The members of the bobsled team are role models for individuals determined to succeed. The coach (who is white) is a role model for someone who has cheated, but having acknowledged his mistake, seeks a second chance.

It is important to have a little bit of context of what the country of Jamaica is before going into this movie. Jamaica is an island in the Caribbean which was a British colony until 1962. The Jamaican people are descendants of slaves brought from Africa to work on plantations. They speak English because the plantation managers would not let the slaves keep the languages they brought from Africa and required them to speak only English.

After the Second World War had ended, Germany was divided into two countries, communist East Germany and democratic/capitalist West Germany. For the purposes of propaganda, the East German government invested heavily in its own sports teams. The team that ridiculed the Jamaicans was from East Germany. Germany was reunited into one country in 1991 when the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia ended. Switzerland is a very small mountainous country in the center of Europe. Like the Germans, the Swiss have a reputation for being very good engineers. Most of Switzerland is in the Alps and the Swiss have excelled at winter sports.

The country of Switzerland is a very small mountainous country in the center of Europe. Similar to the Germans, the Swiss have a reputation for being very good engineers. Most of Switzerland is in the Alps and the Swiss have also excelled at winter sports.

What really made the films messages resonate is that they can apply to anyone regardless of race or ethnic background. The theme of fairness is playing by the rules; Take turns and share; being open-minded; listen to others; Don’t take advantage of others; Don’t blame others carelessly just by the color of their skin. Lastly the theme of trustworthiness is always being honest. Don’t deceive, cheat or steal; be reliable and do what you say you’ll do.

2 thoughts on “Andrew Arenas’ Theoretical Analysis of Cool Runnings

  1. mitchelleubank25

    Admittedly, I never saw “Cool Runnings” once in my life. I saw “Remember the Titans,” another Disney film which also took on a similar message regarding racial tolerance, or lack thereof, but I didn’t even hear of “Cool Runnings” until years after the fact. Judging by the trailer, though, it seems that both films do plug the same morals, about how we should never judge someone by the color of their skin, or the place where they come from, but by the content of their character. The Jamaicans are seen as people who want to try something new, despite being held back by the fact that Jamaican climates are, to say the least, “summery.” The East Germans, in the last throes of communist rule, were experts in anything relating to cold climates, and therefore felt like they were natural favorites in any Winter Olympic event, not just bobsledding. Mind you, they said the same thing about the Soviets when it came to ice hockey, and we all know what happened to them in Lake Placid in 1980. In short, the underdog is trying to go against the stereotypes thrust upon them, and the villains have every right to act like they have nothing to lose. Then again, “people [are] always [going to be] afraid of what’s different” in life, and this moral, for better or worse, still needs to be told.

  2. aarenas95 Post author

    Ahh very interesting points that you bring up there mitchell. I too have seen Remember The Titans and what did appeal to me was the similar morals both of the films possess. Especially with the films themes of judging people by the color of their skin and racial background are still very prominent themes in film and in books today.

Leave a Reply