Show Dogs (Official Trailer)
In the new kids movie "Show Dogs," a police dog named Max goes undercover at a dog show to catch the bad guys.
But first the Rottweiler must learn how to be a fancy show dog, and part of that training involves learning how to comport himself in the show ring. The part he doesn't like: when the dog show judge inspects his testicles.
Max snaps at his cop partner, played by Will Arnett, the first time Arnett tries to touch him there. But Max is coached through the process by a veteran show dog who counsels him to go into his "zen place" to get through it.
So in the show ring, Max gets all glassy-eyed and thinks of fireworks and flowers and dancing with Arnett as the show judge inspects his privates.
Those scenes bothered some parents and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which accused the movie of sending a "troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse."
On Wednesday, the movie's producers announced they are deleting two scenes parents found offensive. The revised version will hit theaters this weekend.
“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 production company said in a statement.
"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."
"Show Dogs" opened in theaters on May 18 and, as Vanity Fair reports, it didn't take long for the backlash to begin.
Some of the first complaints came from Arizona family film blogger Terina Maldonado in a viral post on Macaroni Kid that accused the movie of containing a "dark and disturbing message."
"He was telling him he needs to go to his zen place and I like right away was wait ... what?" Maldonado told USA Today's All The Moms parenting blog. "And when it turns into this big pivotal scene in the end and he needs to be allowed to be touched to win the competition and red flags were going up and around in my mommy head."
Maldonado watched with her husband, mother and three kids, who are 8, 5 and 2. She wrote in her blog post that after the movie her daughter said her favorite part of the movie was when Max had his privates touched because it was funny.
"I decided to use that moment to help reinforce what we have taught our children since they were little, private parts are just that, private," Maldonado wrote.
"We talked about how I didn't feel that part needed to be in the movie. We talked about how we never let anyone touch our private parts, what they should do if anyone tries. We reinforced that if anyone tries to touch their private parts or asks them to touch their private parts they should talk to us about that. We talked about different ways children can feel pressured to participate in those types of behaviors.
"We talked about bribes or threats, we discussed the fact that that type of behavior is not a game, we reminded them the same rules apply to kids as well as adults."
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, formerly the anti-pornography organization Morality in Media, had much the same response.
“The movie Show Dogs sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse," executive director Dawn Hawkins said in a statement. "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."
When the first complaints surfaced, Global Road Entertainment issued a statement explaining that examinations like the one show in the movie are standard practice at dog shows, CNN reported.
According to the American Kennel Club's "Rules, Policies and Guidelines for Conformation Dog Show Judges," group and Best in Show examination of dogs must include checking testicles.
But producers apologized to "to any parent who feels the scene sends a message other than a comedic moment in the film."
Max Botkin, one of the movie's two credited writers, told CNN he didn't write the controversial scenes, saying the film had 12 uncredited writers.
"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," Botkin said in a statement. "I understand and empathize with the parents' and groups' concerns regarding the message the movie may impart."
On Wednesday, Botkin tweeted that he was "happy and proud to say that Show Dogs is being recut based on audience concerns and in theaters this weekend in a family-safe version."
The PG-rated film opened sixth in last weekend's box office with a lackluster $6 million, according to Deadline.
As part of the backlash, Cineplex Australia pulled "Show Dogs" from its theaters, according to Deadline, and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation asked AMC and Regal to do the same.
"However, with Global Road deleting the offensive scenes and re-releasing it, such actions should ease concerns and maintain the pic’s hold on screens," wrote Deadline.