*UPDATE: CNN has reported the film will undergo edits to remove the objectionable content!*
Child advocates have accused new kids film Show Dogs of sending “a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse”. The film was released in the US last week, and is not scheduled to be released in Australia until July.
The film follows the story of a police dog going undercover at a dog show. There are reportedly several scenes in which the dog, Max, has to have his genitals inspected. When he is uncomfortable and wants to stop he is told to go to a ‘zen place’. When he does this, he can advance to the final round of the dog show.
National Center on Sexual Exploitation has called on distribution company Global Road Entertainment to halt the distribution of Show Dogs in movie theaters and recut the movie:
“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.”
Reviewers, too, have expressed their discomfort over the scenes in question.
Slate writer Ruth Graham called it “unsettling on several levels”.
“First, this is a children’s movie in which the protagonist’s success depends on withstanding a stranger touching his genitals even though it makes him uncomfortable,” she wrote.
“The movie’s solution to Max’s discomfort with the inspection is not to empower him to escape it somehow; it’s to have him learn to checkout mentally while he endures it, and to make no outward sign of his humiliation. It is not paranoid to say that this is a bad message for kids.”
Writer Jenny Rapson echoed those sentiments in a blog post on For Every Mom: “Max’s success is riding on whether or not he lets both his partner (for practice) and a stranger (the competition judge) touch his private parts. IN A KIDS MOVIE. WHAT??? Newsflash, folks: THIS IS CALLED GROOMING and it’s what sexual predators do to kids!”
Writer Terina Maldonado wrote on family film blog Macaroni Kid that “during the movie, I kept thinking, “This is wrong, it doesn’t need to be in a kids movie. Everything else in the movie is good fun except for this.”
In response to the outcry, Global Road Entertainment, co-producers of the film released a statement to CNN:
“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,” the statement said in part. “Global Road Entertainment and the filmmakers are saddened and apologise 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.”
One of the writers of the film has spoken out against the scenes in question, claiming that they were written into the script by of the “13 other writers” who worked on the movie.
“[I] didn’t get to see the film until it was in its final stage of completion, and had zero say in creative choices the second I signed away the rights to my work.”
“I absolutely condemn any suggestion or act of non-consensual touching in any form, as well as disassociation as a coping mechanism for abuse of any kind. I understand and empathise with the parents’ and groups’ concerns regarding the message the movie may impart,” he said.
Children’s charity Bravehearts is also calling for a ban on the Australian Classification Board to ban the film:
Bravehearts is responding to reports this children’s film contains multiple scenes where a dog character must have its private parts inspected and manhandled. When the dog feels uncomfortable and wants it to stop is then told to just go to a ‘zen place’ and is later rewarded for his consent by being advanced to the final round of the dog show. This message is not only wrong, but it promotes acceptance of grooming and goes against the very basic principles of child protection.
Cineplex Theatres have already pulled the film:
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It's finally upon us - the long-awaited release of Fifty Shades Darker, the second installment in the Fifty Shades of Grey film trilogy. But rather than swooning, I find myself shuddering.
Image: Mike Marsland via Getty images
The 'romantic' lead is Christian Grey, a deeply disturbed individual who immediately begins stalking the naïve and virginal Ana. Christian is jealous, controlling and manipulative and has a penchant for sexual violence (this man just has 'catch' written all over him). He even attempts to persuade Ana to sign a contract that allows him complete control over her, from making herself available to him for sex on demand down to dictating what and when she can eat.
Ain't love grand?
An analysis of the first book found that the so-called romantic relationship between Christian and Ana was characterised by intimate partner violence. Using the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's definitions, researchers found that emotional abuse and sexual violence were pervasive throughout, noting that emotional abuse was present "in nearly every interaction". This was evidenced in stalking, such as tracking Ana's movements via phone and computer technology, limiting Ana's social involvement, intimidation and threats.
Researchers identified various instances of sexual violence, including Christian initiating sexual encounters while angry, ignoring Ana's boundaries and using threats and alcohol to compromise Ana's consent.
"No, please. I can't do this. Not now. I need some time. Please."
"Oh Ana, don't overthink this."
"No," I protest, trying to kick him off. He stops. "If you struggle, I'll tie your feet too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you."
Despite this, Fifty Shades has become a global phenomenon, inspiring a range of merchandise including lingerie, wine, sex toys, hotel packages, hardware stores selling Fifty Shades packs including rope and duct tape, and even baby onesies emblazoned with handcuffs and the slogan "I pretend Christian Grey is my daddy."
So what happens when a film series of this magnitude frames domestic abuse and male violence against women as sexy and desirable? What message does it send to women and girls, and also to men and boys? Who benefits from widespread acceptance of the belief women and girls secretly want and enjoy sexual violence?
Of course, not everyone shares these concerns. In my work with campaigning movement Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation I've engaged with various fans of the books that argue Fifty Shades is merely a work of fiction and therefore has no influence. We addressed this and other common arguments on our website.
Alarmingly, many people who defended Fifty Shades and argued it had no impact on attitudes towards women or men's violence against women went on to spout various myths and misinformation about domestic violence, illustrating a profound lack of understanding about these issues. While these attitudes and beliefs already exist in the community they are powerfully reinforced in Fifty Shades.
Fifty Shades does not depict an abusive relationship, I've been told, because Christian never beats her (as if domestic abuse is limited to physical assault). Another argument I encountered was that if she didn't like it she would leave, again failing to understand the fear, power relations and complexity at play in domestic violence situations. Others still downplayed or defended Christian Grey's abusive behaviours, claiming his stalking and controlling tendencies were evidence of how much he loved her, excusable because he was a victim himself, or irrelevant because 'he changes in the end'.
In stark contrast to the Cinderella story where (spoiler alert) the abuser can change if his victim sticks around and loves him enough, the reality is that the violence tends to escalate over time. As author Gail Dines points out, "Battered women's shelters and graveyards are full of women who had the misfortune to meet a Christian Grey."
Women's groups around the world have come together calling for a boycott in response. Collective Shout, the London Abused Women's Centre, Culture Reframed and the National Centre on Sexual Exploitation have been joined by dozens of groups in an international campaign, Fifty Dollars Not Fifty Shades.
The campaign is calling for members of the public to boycott the film and donate fifty dollars (or another amount) to domestic violence organisations or women's refuges, because in the real world, that is where women like Ana end up. Supporters are encouraged to use the hash tags #50DollarsNot50Shades and #FiftyShadesIsAbuse to promote awareness of the giving campaign.
It is our hope that people will make a connection between a culture that sexualizes, excuses, tolerates and glorifies men's violence against women and real life violence against women. How many women's lives depend on it?
See Full Article here
If you're a child living in a society filled with sexploitation, what messages do you receive from this kind of daily environmental reinforcement?
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in the UK (NSPCC), has warned that child sexploitation is being woefully underreported. The NSPCC further attribute sexploitation to children not understanding what healthy relationships look like.
Women should be able to speak out without facing rape threats
Collective Shout activist Talitha Stone has launched a petition calling on Twitter to add a report abuse button to tweets. Please sign and share widely.Read more
When you shout loud, the world listens
"Should the immigration department take Collective Shout’s latest campaign any further, future Tyler tours Down Under could become a whole lot trickier to arrange." - US Music industry magazine Billboard.com
After our call to action to stop pro-rape US rapper Tyler the Creator from performing in Australia we were inundated with messages of support. Our call to action was forwarded far and wide and shared on social media. The response was amazing. Men and women, young and old were taking action.
Has Tyler the Creator breached his Visa conditions?
Collective Shout has drawn the attention of Immigration Minister the Hon. Brendan O'Connor to a series of rape and other threats from fans of US rap artist Tyler the Creator. We believe these threats have been fuelled by the artist’s abuse of our actions online. We are asking the Minister to examine whether Tyler the Creator has violated the terms of his visa conditions. Our letter, written by Caitlin Roper our W.A coordinator, appears below:Read more