Show Dogs Controversy Hits the Mainstream

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.