May 23, 2018

Thoughts on the Show Dogs Controversy

Posted by Adam Graham in : cultural sewage

Controversy has erupted over the “family film” Show Dogs  about a police dog that goes undercover at a dog show. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation sent out a warning about the film:

“The movie Show Dogs sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “It contains multiple scenes where a dog character must have its private parts inspected, in the course of which the dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop but is told to go to a ‘zen place.’ The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier. Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children—telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort. Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching.”

Global Road Entertainment, the film’s producers, defended the film in their initial Facebook post (although they’ve since agreed to edit it):

It has come to our attention that there have been online discussion and concern about a particular scene in Show Dogs, a family comedy that is rated PG. The dog show judging in this film is depicted completely accurately as done at shows around the world; and was performed by professional and highly respected dog show judges. Global Road Entertainment and the filmmakers are saddened and apologize to any parent who feels the scene sends a message other than a comedic moment in the film, with no hidden or ulterior meaning, but respect their right to react to any piece of content.

To borrow an appropriate Southern phrase, “That dog don’t hunt.” As an argument, it’s absurd.  First of all, Show Dogs is a talking dog film. The comedy of talking animals comes from taking an animal and giving it human or humanized reaction to what is happening. This changes the game and makes this far more creepy and of great concern.

I wouldn’t assume that this was intentionally grooming kids (though given the recent scandals involving sexual abuse in Hollywood I wouldn’t rule it out.) It seems likely that someone thought this would be a funny way to push the envelope in a kids film. When it turned out to have a bad meaning, the studio should have made it right immediately. Instead, they tried to defend themselves until some theaters started pulling it and then they announced they would cut two scenes from the film.

I’d also say there’s a somewhat disturbing trend online with many people complaining that the film’s critics are “snowflakes” who can’t understand that a movie’s just a movie. Many add “liberal snowflakes” to emphasize the point. However, one doesn’t have to be a liberal to be concerned about the sexual grooming of kids. We’ve learned there’s a lot of nasty stuff going around over the last couple years. At the same time, our country is dealing with an epidemic of human trafficking and child sexual abuse. This is a real problem.

And it’s also a real problem for too many conservatives to underrate the influence of media, particularly on children. I mean, to get political for a moment, you let your kids spend unlimited amounts of time consuming entertainment created by Viacom and NBC, and wonder why they grow up to be liberals who lack common sense. Entertainment has power that conservatives have ignored to their own detriment.

In the case of child abuse and exploitation, I think a lot of these statements that are lumping this in with overly sensitive “politically correct” reactions to movies and TV shows come from ignorance not malice. However, many of these people have kids and grandkids, so ignorance isn’t acceptable. There are real dangers that your kids face, and it’s not politically correct to learn about those dangers and address them, it’s parentally correct.

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