The controversial kid’s movie Show Dogs, due to be released in Australian cinemas on July 5 in time for school holidays, was abruptly pulled from American theatres last week after backlash over the inappropriate sexual content in its storyline.

Thankfully, Cineplex Cinemas has already made the decision not to show the movie, but other cinema chains still plan to.

The criticism related to the underlying, and dangerous message, which potentially groomed children to stay quiet and accept molestation from friends and strangers. The American production company quickly responded to the outcry, assuring the outraged public that it would “remove two scenes from the film ‘Show Dogs’ that some have deemed not appropriate for children.”

Unfortunately, this is not what has happened.

No scenes have been removed.

Rather two scenes have been edited, but the underlying message of compliance with unwanted genital touching remains.

In the course of the genital touching, Max the talking dog is uncomfortable and wants it to stop but he is coached to disassociate because submitting to genital touching is an essential element of his success. When he is coached on how to get through it, the original script had Max going to his “zen place”. The edit now has him being told to "go to your happy place". Such is the superficial nature of the edits and certainly not the resolution a concerned public were hoping for.

The Australian Classification Board have displayed a complete lack of awareness in their commentary on this film. While they state that they are aware “that a scene or two in Show Dogs, may cause offence to some viewers, who are of the opinion that the touching of a dog character’s genitals, and the accompanying dialogue, may promote acceptance of grooming of children for sexual exploitation”, they go on to defend their PG rating of the film in time for school holiday viewing. 

The Australian Classification Board say that there is no suggestion in the film that the dog is a metaphor for a child.

This is ridiculous.

The Australian Classification Board continues, “The .. scenes … are not sexual in nature and were not assessed by the Board under the classifiable element of sex”. This is absurd. Max has his genitals waxed for what reason? This is not a practice in actual dog shows. And when Max successfully disassociates from the uncomfortable groping of his private parts, he goes to his “happy place” accompanied by the tune of “Sexy and I Know It.

There is no doubt that the producers have humanised Max. Dogs don’t talk, and they definitely don’t have sexual proclivates that necessitate them inventing a happy place so that strangers can touch their genitals as depicted in the movie.  If they did, the movie would be all the worse.

This movie sends an extremely dangerous message to all children.  It has a disturbing potential of causing significant harm to children and adults alike who have experienced abuse. Parents and concerned groups such as the Centre for Human Dignity are continuing to campaign for Australian theatres not to release this film.

Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and rather than including confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching, the message should be an empowering one - they can say NO.

To promote the notion that sometimes you have to invent a coping strategy to endure things you feel and know to be wrong is disastrous and irresponsible at every level, especially to children.  This is clearly the notion the movie depicts regarding the dog’s genital touching.

Take action now by writing to Australian Cinemas urging them to protect our children by not showing this dangerous movie.: