Hollywood released a new children's movie this past weekend, "Show Dogs," to an abysmal debut of $6 million and a certified "rotten" score of 23% on the Tomatometer.
Though virtually nobody will see "Show Dogs" while in theaters, in just a few months' time, the movie will undoubtedly appear on people's Netflix and Prime feeds, and parents will think it a safe hour and a half to occupy their kids' attention. One mommy blogger, Terina Maldonado of Macaroni Kid, says to stay away, however, alleging the movie pushes a dangerous lesson about pedophilia.
"Show Dog" stars Will Arnett as an FBI agent named Frank forced into partnering with a talking dog named Max (voiced by Ludacris) to infiltrate a prestigious dog show in the hopes of rescuing a kidnapped panda. The dog show part is where Maldonado noticed something she found troubling:
As part of any dog show, contestants are judged on their abilities and physical attributes. One part, in particular, is the inspection of the dog's private parts. Being that Max is new to competing, he needs to learn the process so his partner, Frank, along with a former show champion work to get him ready for the final round of the competition. Since the inspection of the private parts will happen in the finals, Frank touches Max’s private parts to get him use to it. Of course, Max doesn’t like it and snaps at Frank for him to stop. Max is then told by the former champion, who has been through the process before, that he needs to go to his 'zen place' while it happens so he can get through it. More attempts are made by Frank to touch Max’s private parts, but Max is still having trouble letting it happen and keeps snapping at him.
The day of the finals come and if Max doesn’t let his private parts be touched, he may lose the competition and any hope of finding the kidnapped panda. It all rests on his ability to let someone touch his private parts. The judge’s hands slowly reach behind Max and he goes to his 'zen place.' He’s flying through the sky, dancing with his partner, there are fireworks and flowers-everything is great-all while someone is touching his private parts.
While it is true that dogs have their genitals examined at every dog show, and it might even be fair to say the makers of "Show Dogs" were using that fact as an opportunity for (albeit immature) humor, Maldonado saw the scene as wildly disturbing for a kids movie, especially when considering the anthropomorphized nature of the character Max. In sum, the character is more than just a dog having his genitals touched, but a thinking, relatable children's character having his genitals touched, which could teach children that such behavior is not only acceptable but playful.
"This is wrong, it doesn’t need to be in a kids movie," Maldonado says she kept thinking. "Everything else in the movie is good fun except for this."
Maldonado's husband later said he felt the same thing while watching the scene. Her daughter, however, found the scene hilarious, prompting Maldonado to teach her a lesson:
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. 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.
As a survivor of child abuse, this is something I feel strongly about and am passionate about helping others protect their children. I also fiercely strive to give my children the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves.
Maldonado based some of her alarm on the string of #MeToo accusations flowing out of Hollywood this past year, which also include crimes against children. Former child star Corey Feldman has stressed several times that Hollywood has a dark secret regarding pedophilia, a claim further explored by the documentary "An Open Secret."
Earlier this month, a bombshell report from Deadline showed that Hollywood has largely ignored a current law designed to protect children from predators by requiring publicists, managers, acting coaches and headshot photographers who work with child actors to pass an FBI background check in order to receive a Child Performer Services Permit.