Show Dogs Private Parts Controversy – Too Far or Too Much About Nothing?
Update: The studio has announced that they will re-cut the film to remove the scenes in question and re-release it by this weekend.
By now you may have heard that there is a controversy brewing about the new kids' movie Show Dogs. What could go wrong in a comedy starring adorable pups and Will Arnett? Plenty as it turns out.
I normally take my kids to see every new release, but decided to skip Show Dogs after reading about the controversy. Several parents who have seen the movie report that Show Dogs contains some very unfunny scenes in which a dog is reluctantly convinced to have his private parts inspected after being instructed to pretend he was somewhere else and with the promise of a treat after it's all over. The dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop, but the adults performing the inspection continue anyway.
If the description of these scenes makes your hair stand on end you are not alone. It's not just parents who are uncomfortable with this scene, The National Center on Sexual Exploitation put out a statement asserting that Show Dogs actually grooms children for sexual abuse. The statement goes on to state, “[d]isturbingly, 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.” The National Center on Sexual Exploitation then calls for distribution of Show Dogs in movie theaters to be halted and for the movie to be recut so that it no longer contains such unsafe themes.
The distribution company for Show Dogs, however, does not see anything wrong with their movie. They posted the below statement on the movie's Facebook page justifying the scenes as nothing more than comedic momenta and an accurate portrayal of what happens at dog shows around the world. The statement reads:
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.
But many parents aren't buying it and are boycotting the movie. One parent who has been involved in dog shows for years said that she received warnings about the movie from dog show groups even before she heard warnings from parents because “this is certainly not something we practice in conformation training nor has any judge touched my younger dogs privates when checking him out in the ring.” Another parent familiar with dog shows says, “People who defend this kind of garbage have no idea what grooming is.”
Many parents are asking how this storyline ever made it through production and question whether the same theme of a dog reluctant to participate in a show could have been handled better. “Why couldn't the dog just have been shy?” asked one parent who believes the unwanted touching private parts does not belong in a children's movie.
Yet, some parents defend Show Dogs and are not boycotting the movie. Some parents believe that “sometimes you just have to suck it up and do something you don’t like” and that it's okay to portray that happening in a movie. Another parent believes that “lots of kid movies have some adult themes/content” and that Show Dogs is no different. However, another parent who usually has thick skin says “I don't usually boycott movies because I have a sick sense of humor and totally understand fact vs fiction … however, we will be skipping this one. I'm appalled!”
Some parents think that Show Dogs looks like an otherwise funny movie and would see it if the controversial scenes were removed. Other parents don't think the movie looks funny and weren't planning on seeing it anyway.
What do you think? Will you be boycotting Show Dogs or do you think this is much ado about nothing?