Show Dogs Controversy Hits the Mainstream

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Controversy surrounding the kids’ movie Show Dogs ratcheted up another notch today. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has issued a statement on scenes involving a talking dog having its genitals touched during a dog show, scenes that they’re concerned may promote sexual abuse of children.

The NCOSE’s statement reads:

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.(Emphasis theirs.)

The organization has also asked the movie’s distributor, Global Road Entertainment, “to halt the distribution of Show Dogs in movie theaters and to recut the movie so that it no longer contains such unsafe themes.”

Responding to these serious concerns about the film, Global Road Entertainment has issued a statement of its own:

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.

In light of the ongoing controversy and conversation about how to interpret these scenes in the film (including many responses in our blog earlier this week), Plugged In and Focus on the Family have chosen to remove our family-friendly rating from this film, as well as our colored warnings for viewers of various ages. We will not be rating this film and encourage families (as we always do) to consider this film’s content issues carefully before choosing to see it.

Focus on the Family is committed to equipping your family to recognize potential threats to children in the area of sexual abuse. This is an issue that we take very seriously. For an in-depth resource on sexual abuse, we encourage you to listen to our complimentary daily broadcast featuring guests Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, authors of the book God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies.

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

B&L Kemp 12 months ago
Show Dogs is an all around good movie , I watched it with my wife
mother-in-law and 3 grandsons  and we all laughed the whole show.
But I am glad they took a few scenes out with no problem or fuss.
To me that says a lot about this film maker .
Max who's real name is Que  was neutered two years ago
so he really did not have to go to a zen place  , This is done to most all male dogs that are in movies.
And here is the though of the day , We fuss about a funny kids show
BUT what about the R rated movies they watch at home with and without
Mom & Dad , Or are they shipped off to grand maws on movie night
may be grand maw don't have a TV . What they see on TV is way worse
than a few scenes in Show Dogs , And have you looked at any commercials lately '' OUCH
We must(pray) take a knee we must take a stand for our children and
grandchildren , at the movie theater , on the TV set, At school ,
book stands , and every where there at ,
And we let thousands of baby's every year be aborted why don't we protest this what kind of message dose this send our children.
And we think Show Dogs is Bad, God Help Us. 
James 4:17  Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The fact that a kid's movie that made $7 million at the Box Office is more controversial then Deadpool 2 and 13 Reasons Why Season 2 combined so far is pretty shocking. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe because people expect movies rated R to contain inappropriate material for kids. People do not expect that from a movie peddled to kids. 
Sarah McKee More than 1 year ago
Maybe FOTF should pay a little more attention next time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe we can forgive human reviewers for making human mistakes. If you want to be 100% sure about the content of a movie, see it yourself. 

HD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It wasnt so much that they made a mistake as it was the attitude after the fact. Condescending and insulting towards parents who were concerned. Aren't concerned parents the one who pay your salaries PI? 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good move, but disappointing that FOTF is just responding to statements by other groups and the studio.  Shouldn't FOTF be leading the way and providing a review its readers can depend on?   How embarrassing to rate a film as family friendly, keep that rating despite numerous negative comments from actual readers, and then remove it merely because other groups have issued statements and even the movie studio recognized it was so disturbing they had to edit the film. 

It makes one question whether FOTF is truly committed to "equipping your family to recognize potential threats to children in the area of sexual abuse."  If that were true, shouldn't you change the review to: "No, this movie is NOT family friendly, do NOT see it"?  Instead, you say that FOTF  "will not be rating this film" at all and instead will "encourage families to consider this film’s content issues carefully before choosing to see it."   Thanks--very helpful.  It looks like FOTF is sticking with the "open to interpretation" position, which is disgusting and already the subject of scathing criticism by readers. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well said
Julienne Dy More than 1 year ago
It's not PluggedIn's job to raise other people's kids for them or to blow whistles.  They just watch the movies, write about them, and help people decide if they and their families can handle watching a certain movie.  PluggedIn does not exist to replace people's brains.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
100% agreed Julienne Dy!

HD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All the more than they should respond when the majority of parents voice concern over something. And how would parents know those scenes were in the movie based on Hoose review? They wouldn't!!!
Julienne Dy More than 1 year ago
Hoose did mention that scene in his review.  Maybe he wasn't as freaked out about it as a lot of other people are, but he mentioned it.  I discussed the scene in question with my sister, who has volunteered at a vet clinic and is studying to be a vet herself.  She's more offended by the fact that they made a live-action dog show movie with a humanized dog as the protagonist.  In real life, unless you're doing the exam wrong, a dog wouldn't even know what's going on much less care.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No he did not.  He added it after the fact.  After reading the review online from the concerned parent, i went straight to plugged in.  There was absolutely no mention of it until after the film was pulled.  And no, its not their job to raise my kids; however, the question needs to be asked, would I recommend this to the church?  After all that is who fotf is representing.
Julienne Dy 12 months ago
Um, I read the first draft of the movie's review.  I do recall him mentioning it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And that you miss inappropriate content in other reviews-such as pedo content in Baby Boss
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very unfortunate that it took you guys this long to retract anything and you still don't even seem to get it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It amazes me that someone listened (the movie writers) and they were not defensive, but apologized. That is unlike the response I feel PI gave, even after so many wrote in disagreeing opinions. Look, as Christians, FOTF should have been first to call this out. Instead, there were “interpretations” and everyone coming at this from different backgrounds, etc...  Yet even the secular world saw something wrong with this movie! Thank God the writers listened to concerns. 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/23/entertainment/show-dogs-controversy/index.html
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That feel when Deadpool 2 is somehow less offensive and controversial than this mindless garbage "kids" movie....

Feels good, man.

P.S. I think that there is a bit of an overreaction to this, but the writers really should've thought through the implications of that joke before writing it. (Though granted, they probably didn't think at all when writing this movie....)

-Evan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Isn't Deadpool rated R?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know. That's probably why it hasn't caused that much controversy other than the occasional ignorant parent who's all like "it's a comic book movie, that means little Timmy will love it!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please don't misinterpret what I'm about to say. I fully acknowledge that sexual abuse of children is tragically something that exists in our world. It's the furthest thing from my intent to diminish the despicable nature of the act or the pain and suffering it causes the victims. 

With that being said, I can't help but feel like the reaction to this has been quite hyperbolic, and I feel like it's directly linked to a larger moral panic that's been building for several years now where a lot of parents expect a pedophile waiting to strike around every corner. This is most apparent with the kinds of things that passed around popular "parent blogs". Whether it's the dire, yet completely baseless, warnings that pedophiles are using completely innocuous mobile apps and social media features to lure children en masse or the breathless stories of mothers who are convinced that their quick thinking prevented their children from being abducted into sex slavery that get shared countless times despite being completely uncorroborated and featuring details that are quite contrary to how actual sex traffickers are known to operate, this is becoming something of a phenomenon. It doesn't seem coincidental to me that the outrage over this movie seems to have first gained traction in similar circles. 

When I actually read descriptions of the scene in question, I just don't see the intent that other people so readily attribute to it. That sort of inspection is an actual part of dog shows that is performed by trained professionals in a completely non-sexual manner. Given that context, it seems much more likely to me that the proper analogy would to an uncomfortable medical exam than to forced sexual fondling. It's not like cheap jokes about prostate exams are anything groundbreaking, after all.

I wouldn't disagree with anyone who thinks that particular joke is poorly placed in a movie otherwise targeted at young children. I don't even think it's crazy for parents of children who see the movie to talk with them about why that's only appropriate in certain narrowly defined situations. The take that the obvious implication is that the movie is encouraging children to get comfortable with being fondled, possibly even as some kind of vast pedophile conspiracy, seems like an unbelievable stretch to me though. Even if you are convinced of that, it just seems unreasonable to me for so many people to be demanding that everyone see it the same way or else they lose all credibility, are bad Christians, don't take child abuse seriously, etc. 

-ASouthernGuy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“The take that the obvious implication is that the movie is encouraging children to get comfortable with being fondled, possibly even as some kind of vast pedophile conspiracy, seems like an unbelievable stretch to me though.”
This is where I believe wires are being crossed. Most people I’ve seen don’t believe that this message was intentional. The term ‘grooming’ does imply intent, but I don’t believe this context fits that. If the effect of the content mentally prepares a kid to accept the logic of an abuser, the the intent of the filmmaker doesn’t matter. That child has been groomed inadvertently. So I think it’s reasonable to insist that this joke is horribly inappropriate for those reasons without assuming a vast pedophile conspiracy. The writers just didn’t think through the implications of their dumb weird joke in a kids movie.  It the implications can still be drawn, and are still dangerous to real kids suffering from abuse, intentional or not. 
Tl;dr -the word “grooming” in most critiques implies the effect of the joke, not the intent of the authors. But the effect is bad enough that families ought to be warned about it. 
-Matt Stout
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Please don't misinterpret what I'm about to say. I fully acknowledge that sexual abuse of children is tragically something that exists in our world. It's the furthest thing from my intent to diminish the despicable nature of the act or the pain and suffering it causes the victims."

**Goes on to deny sexual abuse happens frequently and diminish the horrors of sexual abuse**


"This is most apparent with the kinds of things that passed around popular "parent blogs". Whether it's the dire, yet completely baseless, warnings that pedophiles are using completely innocuous mobile apps and social media features to lure children en masse"

Wait so kids aren't lured online? *Ahem* To catch a predator *Ahem*

"When I actually read descriptions of the scene in question, I just don't see the intent that other people so readily attribute to it. That sort of inspection is an actual part of dog shows that is performed by trained professionals in a completely non-sexual manner. Given that context, it seems much more likely to me that the proper analogy would to an uncomfortable medical exam than to forced sexual fondling. It's not like cheap jokes about prostate exams are anything groundbreaking, after all."

Maybe if this were a documentary on dog shows the scene would have been justified. But if it is supposed to be reflective of dog shows why would the dog have to go to his "zen" place? Why would it than symbolically show a flower with the petals floating away? (Insinuating he had been "deflowered" or lost his virginity). Why would he than see rainbows and fireworks insinuating an orgasm?  The sexual nature of the "joke" is very obvious so to say that is what happens at real dog shows, well I doubt THAT is what truly happens. And once again, was the purpose of the movie to demonstrate exactly what a dog show is? Or was it a silly kids movie? If it's a silly kids movie there was simply no need for that type of scene at all whatsoever. They could have had the dog biting at them when they went to check his teeth and made that the joke. It did not have to be his genitals. 

"and possibly even as some kind of vast pedophile conspiracy,"

It appears there is a large network of pedophiles operating in Hollywood. Not to mention all the stories coming out recently. 
https://m.facebook.com/AnOpenSecretDoc/?ref=content_filter

And how about the Catholic Church scandal?
https://www.nytimes.com/topic/organization/roman-catholic-church-sex-abuse-cases

And evangelical mega church scandal?
http://time.com/4226444/child-sex-abuse-evangelical-church/

And the government employees caught with child porn on their computers and most NOT investigated or prosecuted?
https://www.yahoo.com/news/blogs/upshot/pentagon-declined-investigate-hundreds-purchases-child-pornography.html


Or the recent large scale pedophile busts?
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42108748/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/massive-online-pedophile-ring-busted-cops/

Pedophile ring at Disney...who lured children online
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DlphEv__7oM

But pedophilia on a large scale is a conspiracy? 

Why would we NOT err on the side of caution when it comes to children?
Julienne Dy More than 1 year ago
I honestly don't think PluggedIn did anything wrong.  I mean, the movie makers were only trying to accurately depict what goes on in a dog show.  No one meant anything exploitative by it.  Besides, I wasn't planning on seeing the movie anyway.  The trailers made it look dumb and the review made it sound even dumber.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So the movie was meant to, as a whole, show everyone what a dog show is truly like, in a very factual manner. I suppose they didn't leave anything out that happens at a real dog show did they?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seems to me that if when folks think that political correctness is a bigger problem in the world than child sexual abuse, then I dont know what else to say. 

In terms of Plugged In’s response, it’s too little, too late. 
-Matt Stout
AnnFOTF More than 1 year ago
Hi everyone - 

Please help us out by keeping your comments to the main topic of the blog.

Any and all comments that call out individuals in a disrespectful manner will be removed.

Thanks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In that case, why hasn't Bob Hoose's initial blog response to the controversy been taken down? I think it is a completely condescending and disrespectful response to all those who've experienced that kind of sexually predatory behavior and sounded the initial alarm about the review.

I fail to see why Plugged In seems incapable of writing a real apology. Love and brokenness are two traits that seem increasingly rare in Focus on the Family.

This blog is a step in the right direction, and I forgive PI for what was initially an honest mistake. Still, an apology for yesterday's knee jerk reaction would be nice.
charitysplace More than 1 year ago
I read his initial post, and I reread it just now -- and it is in no way offensive. All Bob said was he thought nothing of it at the time, but others did. He said that our experiences shape our worldview, which they do. He also said that the viewpoint calling out the movie for that controversial theme was valid.

How is it condescending? How is it disrespectful? Again, all I see is that it says: I didn't take it that way. She did. We're going to let you decide.

Someone from a pantheistic worldview, for example, is going to notice pantheistic themes in AVATAR way more than someone who hasn't come out of a pantheistic worldview.

Someone who is sensitive to sexual abuse, who has experienced it, who works with abused kids, is going to notice things about entertainment that someone (wonderfully) ignorant of those things will not.

Maybe, yes, Bob, should have noticed. But he's not perfect. He doesn't have to be. I imagine he does the best he can. I really see nothing in that blog post for which he should apologize.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is no need for an apology from PluggedIn. They have nothing to apologize for, or to. 
-AR
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To clarify, the condescending attitude I'm referring to occurs when he says, "We all see things through our own filters" as a way to justify leaving the review as it stands.

He then "applauds" a mom who had a more "wonderful" response, which was merely to understand his point of view.

I agree that the initial review was an honest mistake. But I have a problem with standing your ground and defending your incorrect view after it has been pointed out. And yes, when a blog post deeply hurts some people who have been through sexual abuse, I do find it disrespectful (whether or not the disrespect was intended).

To Bob Hoose: A little empathy goes a long way. And nothing conveys the love of Jesus more than repentance/ an apology (even if we were initially unaware of the hurt we caused)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why not just give it a bad rating? Until the studio inevitably rereleases an edited version of the movie? 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THANK YOU for listening to us, PluggedIn. 
bobed More than 1 year ago
Parents, it's time to stand up against PC culture. It's time to push back against those who would go on witch hunts for no reason. For those of you who agree with me that this joke is obnoxiously ribald but almost entirely harmless, I propose that if Global Road Entertainment is bulled into pulling Show Dogs from theaters and censoring it for no good reason, we should start a petition/campaign for them to consider avoiding this drastic course of action. Similarly, if any action is taken against Bob Hoose for his minor mistake (if you can even call it that), we should loudly protest. Let's let the PC culture know that it's taken things too far by dragging a serious issue into the dirt with this nonsense.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I believe this specific story is the exact kind of sexuality in movies we should all be against. If that's "PC culture," then I'm all for it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What you call PC culture in this instance, many, even  secular groups, are calling child safety.