UPDATE: “Show Dogs” Studio Vows to Edit Out Controversial Scenes Amid Outcry by Jessica Acree
You expressed your concern, they heard you loud and clear.
After less than a week in theaters, Global Road Entertainment has decided to cut two controversial scenes from the children's movie “Show Dogs.” The studio's immediate actions are in direct response to outcry from viewers and advocacy groups alike who raised big concerns about the scenes inadvertently promoting disturbing grooming behaviors associated with sexual abuse.
According to a statement, "The company takes these matters very seriously and remains committed to providing quality entertainment for the intended audiences based on the film's rating. We apologize to anybody who feels the original version of Show Dogs sent an inappropriate message. "
A seemingly innocent, over sighted attempt to make the audience laugh, gone horribly wrong. "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,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
The studio is making the changes now and promises to get the revised version to theaters across the country starting this weekend.
In full disclosure I have not watched this movie myself, but as a parent the controversy beginning to swirl about the film "Show Dogs" has caught my attention. I want to make sure you are aware of the concerns so if you choose to take your family, you're not caught off guard by the disturbing theme that appears to be woven into the otherwise kid-friendly plot. Mom blogs across the country are advising extreme caution and here's why...
"Show Dogs" is about a talking police dog named Max who works with a human partner, Frank, to go undercover at a dog show to rescue a baby panda, kidnapped by bad guys. Sounds innocent enough. Well, not entirely. We're all at least vaguely familiar with the famed Westminster Dog Show or others of that caliber, right? The judges score on many factors including the dog's physical characteristics. The trained pups are paraded around, poked, prodded and posed. I'm sure it's not their favorite interaction with people.
Here's where the movie, in mimicking that interaction, appears to take it too far. Terina Maldonado, a mother of three and writer for Macaroni Kid, took her children to see the film and left feeling compelled to bring attention to the dark theme. She wrote about her red-flag observations and her review has since gone viral. Apparently, the dog show training is not just a passing line of dialogue. It becomes a lengthy topic of conversation and a focus for Max's character.
Maldonado explains it in this way: "Since the inspection of the private parts will happen in the finals, Frank touches Max’s private parts to get him use to it. Of course, Max doesn’t like it and snaps at Frank for him to stop. Max is then told by the former champion, who has been through the process before, that he needs to go to his “zen place” while it happens so he can get through it. More attempts are made by Frank to touch Max’s private parts, but Max is still having trouble letting it happen and keeps snapping at him."
The movie is rated PG, but I need an adult! I'm uncomfortable just reading that. Is it even necessary? And as Maldonado reveals, the conflict goes on: "The day of the finals come and if Max doesn’t let his private parts be touched, he may lose the competition and any hope of finding the kidnapped panda ... The judge’s hands slowly reach behind Max and he goes to his “zen place.” He’s flying through the sky, dancing with his partner, there are fireworks and flowers – everything is great – all while someone is touching his private parts."
Wow. Do we really want kids to walk away thinking it's OK as long as they go to their happy place, even if they don't welcome the touch? That it's fine, since it's a trusted adult and there's an agreement that it's for the greater good? You know, the baby panda in need of a rescue... Yikes!
It's not OK, ever. Period.
If anything, this is a tough conversation we all need to have with our kids, so the movie may inspire some much-needed dialogue, but at what cost? Canine character or not, this movie doesn't do its young audience any favors by dwelling on such an awkward interaction without an escape route for Max to stand his ground and succeed without giving in.
My vote is, no thank you. What is your gut reaction?