Show Dogs Sexual Abuse Controversy

Well, this is certainly a first. Global Road Entertainment will be making changes to the theatrical cut of their family friendly comedy Show Dogs after the National Center on Sexual Exploitation accused the movie of inadvertently “grooming” kids for sexual abuse. Yes, we’re still talking about the movie featuring talking dogs infiltrating a dog show to save a kidnapped baby panda.

Find out more about this Show Dogs sexual abuse controversy.

First, let’s explain the origin of these complaints. There are two scenes in question that brought about complaints from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, and they both involve the undercover police dog Max (voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges). In these scenes, Max must have his genitals inspected as part of the dog show, and the way he’s told to deal with this situation, which is meant to be played for laughs, is what caused the uproar. Here’s the statement from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation:

“The movie Show Dogs sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse. 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.”

show dogs trailer

Global Road Entertainment Responds and Recuts

In response to the complaints, which spread to various family-driven blogs and outlets, Global Road Entertainment first responded to the complaints by telling Deadline:

“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 distributor said yesterday. “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.”

Then they made the decision to recut the film in order to avoid upsetting the offended parties:

“Responding to concerns raised by moviegoers and some specific organizations, Global Road Entertainment has decided to remove two scenes from the film SHOW DOGS that some have deemed not appropriate for children.

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. The revised version of the film will be available for viewing nationwide starting this weekend.”

Show Dogs Trailer

Is This Excessive or Not?

There are two trains of thought regarding this extremely rare instance of a studio recutting a movie that’s still in theaters. The first one is likely the one that many average moviegoers are having: this is excessive and silly.

The situation in question doesn’t involve humans submitting to having their genitals touched. It’s a dog having his genitals inspected, which as Global Road Entertainment reiterated, is a real part of dog shows. If a kid were to see a dog show, they would see dogs having their genitals inspected, but that doesn’t condone any potential abuse that a child might experience from an adult. So this seems like a situation where parents need to do their job, make sure to explain that this behavior isn’t something that’s appropriate between humans, and move along.

However, at the same time, this is a movie that is geared towards the families and their kids. And if families are having this kind of reaction, then obviously there’s some kind of disconnect between the movie and its intended audience. Plus, the fact that this is an anthropomorphized dog who reacts to situations as a human would, that makes the scenario more relatable to kids who might face a possible abuse situation where they are asked to behave in an inappropriate manner and ignore any thoughts they might have about it during and afterwards.

While this seems like a strange situation, the complaints do make sense when you consider the audience in question. Though it’s not something that most general audiences would take issue with, those who have encountered sexual abuse, whether first-hand or secondhand, may be troubled by this scene, and that’s understandable given the circumstances. In the end, when you’re dealing with children and child abuse, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What do you think about this situation?

 

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