If you haven’t heard the buzz surrounding the latest kid’s movie that hit theaters May 18, Show Dogs, let us just start by saying, critics aren’t happy about the subtle message it’s sending kids. The star-packed film follows Max the Rottweiler police dog who goes undercover at the world’s most exclusive dog show to prevent alleged animal smuggling—sounds innocent, right? Well, two scenes are being accused of “grooming” kids for sexual abuse. After gaining a lot of media backlash, production has decided to cut the scenes from the movie altogether.
Although we understand this film was not intended to influence children negatively, the scenes are very much questionable. Several parenting bloggers and organizations such as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation have spoken against the film which led to the alteration of the movie.
“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 in a released statement. He continued, “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.”
In the controversial scene, Max (voiced by Ludacris) and his FBI agent partner (played by Will Arnett) are preparing to compete in the dog show when two other dogs warn Max of the physical exam element of the competition. They reach for Max’s hindquarters and coach him to “focus on not reacting” and “go to your zen place.” Max is obviously distressed over the encounter.
Soon enough, that portion of the dog show occurs and as the judge’s hands touch Max, he acts on the advice of his dog colleagues. He goes to his “zen place” and mentally drifts off into an imaginary land as a means of ignoring what inappropriate and uncomfortable actions are taking place. At the end of the scene, the other dogs celebrate Max for going to his “zen place” and performing submissively.
According to Slate.com, the movie’s production company, Global Road Entertainment commented on the backlash stating, “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 continues, “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.”
Thankfully, the newly cut version of the movie that features several big-name performers such as Alan Cumming, Stanley Tucci, RuPaul, Shaquille O'Neal, Gabriel Iglesias, Ludacris, and Jordin Sparks, will air in theaters this weekend—though an error in judgement such as this shouldn't have slipped through the cracks in the first place.