A movie called Show Dogs featuring talking anthropomorphized dogs has come under intense scrutiny for allegedly grooming kids for sex abuse. The accusations began on popular parenting blogs like Macaroni Kid and For Every Mom, and have since been echoed by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, reported Entertainment Weekly.
Many people have found the plot to be disturbing, which requires a New York police dog named Max, voiced by Ludacris, to go undercover and bust a smuggling ring. Max is taught by another dog, Philippe, on how to stand still when the dog show judge examines his genitals. Philippe tells Max, “Don’t get mad at me, but they’re going to do this,” as he reenacts the judging scene.
Max gets angry, but Philippe then tells Max to “Focus on not reacting… Inspection of the private parts is the hardest part of being a show dog.” Philippe also adds, “go to your happy place,” which would supposedly “help” Max get through the ordeal, detailed Slate. Later on, at the actual dog show, Max goes to his “happy place” during the judging, which included a fantasy scene filled with fireworks, fire hydrants, and a dog that he has a crush on. And in the movie plot, it was necessary for Max to do this properly in order to save the animals that are part of a smuggling ring.
Jenny Rapson from the blog For Every Mom was quick to point out that the scene is “CALLED GROOMING and it’s what sexual predators do to kids!” Additionally, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation released a statement regarding the troubling scene.
“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.”
For others, the genital-touching scenes aren’t the only disturbing parts of the movie. In fact, there is a scene where Philippe visits with a former trainer who used to inject Philippe with illegal substances in order to help Philippe win more shows. Philippe says that if “he had been stronger,” that he could have kept the injections from happening. The victim in this instance takes the blame for something that the abuser did.
The moviemakers have since apologized for the misconstrued meaning of the scenes, saying that the dog judging was depicted accurately.
“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.”