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'School of Rock' scene goes viral for its message of body positivity

See Jack Black deliver lines about body positivity in the 2003 flick that seems fresh even by today’s standards.
Jack Black in School of Rock
Jack Black delivered a powerful message about body positivity in this now-viral scene from his 2003 comedy “School of Rock.”Alamy
/ Source: TODAY

It’s been almost 20 years since comedian and musician Jack Black brought an inspiring slacker-turned-substitute teacher to life in “School of Rock.” And even today, his on-screen words of wisdom pack powerful lessons.

Proof of that comes as one classic scene from the 2003 flick has gained new viral fame for a powerful message about body positivity.

In the brief clip, Black’s character, Dewey Finn, talks to student Tomika, played by a 10-year-old Maryam Hassan, about her fear of getting out in front of a crowd and belting out her beautiful voice. She worried others would laugh “because (she’s) fat.”

But the rock teacher informed her that there’s nothing funny about what she brings to the stage.

School of Rock
Maryam Hassan as Tomika, Caitlin Hale as Martha and Jack Black as Dewey in "School of Rock."Alamy

“Tomika, hey, you’ve got something everybody wants,” he tells her with a tone of sincerity. “You’ve got talent, girl. You have an incredible singing voice, and I’m not just saying that. You heard of Aretha Franklin, right? OK, she’s a big lady. But when she starts singing, she blows people’s minds. Everybody wants to party with Aretha!”

And then, just to make sure Tomika understands that weight and worth aren’t the same, he says, “You know who else has a weight issue? Me. But once I get up onstage, start doing my thing, people worship me! Because I’m sexy — and chubby — man.”

Maryam Hassan, School of Rock
Maryam Hassan, 10, in 2003's "School of Rock."Alamy

When Tomika asks why he doesn’t just go on a diet, he adds, “Because I like to eat. Is that such a crime?”

It’s a strong statement that’s being watched by a whole new audience on social media thanks to Hamish Steele, the animator and creator behind the upcoming Netflix series “DeadEndia.”

Steele tweeted the clip earlier this week and noted, “This scene is more revolutionary than I think they even knew and it really stuck with me as a child. Especially the last line.”

Because that last line communicates something that many people still have a hard time understanding today.

“I see even well meaning people be like ‘you never know someone's story... maybe they eat because of depression, or poverty, or genetics’ and I'm like???” Hamish wrote in a follow-up tweet. “It's also totally fine if they just like to eat a lot? It's none of your business and fat people have value regardless?”

He went on to explain, “This post was inspired by a bunch of nasty fatphobic comments. And whenever I see fatphobia I think of this scene and it makes me feel better.”

Evidently, it made a lot of people feel better, too. Hamish’s original tweet has been liked nearly a half-million times and retweeted more than 80,000.

It even caught the interest of a grownup Hassan, who’s now a singer who goes by Mayhrenate.

In a tweet of her own, she wrote, “As a child I didn’t realize the fullll impact of the scene but it definitely hits different today. Glad to have played a part in such an important moment/scene.”