A brief scene in the 1999 film “Oklahoma!” is generating complaints against the Nebo School District after the movie was shown to students at Payson Junior High School in September.
In the film — a taped version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical starring Hugh Jackman — a character is shown looking at a collection of erotic images while the camera closes in over his shoulder.
“She‘s plum, stark naked as a jaybird,” Jackman’s character remarks before the camera zooms out and the scene continues.
The movie was shown to students in violation of Nebo School District’s media policy, according to spokeswoman Lana Hiskey. Films shown in their entirety must be approved by a school’s principal, Hiskey said, and reviewed by the teacher.
“None of those things happened,” Hiskey said.
Between 100 students and 150 students watched the movie Sept. 28 and Sept. 29, Hiskey said. Those class periods were overseen by a substitute.
An email was sent to the parents of each participating student Oct. 11 from Payson Junior High drama teacher Carol Gregory and Principal Carl Swenson.
“This movie was not previewed or approved and some inappropriate material was viewed by the students,” the email stated. “As parents, you may want to visit with your student about this.”
Hiskey said the parents of one student raised the incident with the district. Administrators have reviewed the media policy with the teacher, she said, and phone calls were made to any parent whose email addresses resulted in sending errors.
Information about the screening appeared on several Payson- and Utah education-related Facebook groups this week, criticizing the district’s response and urging community members to attend next week’s school board meeting.
“A pornographic movie was shown in a classroom setting to approximately 125 students … among other things, the movie contained an 8-second close-up of 10 full-frontal images of 10 naked women,” the post read, not naming the movie as “Oklahoma!”
The Facebook posts appeared to originate from Kathryn Foster Bolton, who could not be reached for comment. Her post has since been deleted.
Bolton’s husband, Jared Bolton, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday that Payson Jr. High is filled with good teachers and he does not believe the film’s material was shown intentionally.
“We tried for 14 days to get administrators to notify parents, and they refused,” he said. “We simply want the administration to be accountable to parents."
Several images of women in provocative poses can be seen during the film, although most are obscured or appear to be blurred. A content guide on the Internet Movie Database describes the scene as containing “no complete nakedness.”