NCOSE, an anti-pornography organization formerly known as Morality in Media, specifically took issue with what it said were “multiple scenes where a dog character must have its private parts inspected,” said the group’s executive director Dawn Hawkins.
Hawkis said the scenes showed the dog was uncomfortable with this but “told to go to a ‘zen place.'”
“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,” Hawkins said. “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.”
Global Road Entertainment, which co-produced and co-financed the film with Riverstone Pictures, initially issued a statement explaining that examinations were common practice in dog shows but apologized “to any parent who feels the scene sends a message other than a comedic moment in the film.”
One of film’s two credited writers, Max Botkin, denied involvement in crafting the controversial scenes, telling CNN that while the film was based on his original script, he was not part of the rewriting process, which involved 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,” he said in a statement. “I understand and empathize with the parents’ and groups’ concerns regarding the message the movie may impart.”
The revised version of the film will be available for viewing nationwide starting this weekend.
“Show Dogs” opened in theaters May 18 and has grossed almost $7 million domestically.