Hounddog Hounded by Fundamentalists

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Dakota Fanning

Dakota Fanning

Hounddog, a disturbing R-Rated film that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival recently. is a story about a 9 year old girl, played by Dakota Fanning (who is 14), who uses Elvis Presley’s music as an escape from her lousy life. Fanning plays a girl who is abused by her father and, in one scene in the movie, is brutally raped by a 17 year old boy after being duped into stripping for tickets to an Elvis concert. The film is set in the 1950’s

The film contains no nudity or explicit violence – it is all implied (which is often the case in many of the best films in American cinematic history). You can read the script of the rape scene in question here.

The group Concerned Women for America has waged a national campaign to halt release of this film.

Concerned Women for America is a conservative Christian political action group active in the United States. The group was founded in 1979 by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Christian Coalition co-founder Timothy LaHaye, as a response to activities by the National Organization for Women and a 1978 Barbara Walters interview with noted feminist Betty Friedan.

CWFA’s mission:

We are the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with a rich 28-year history of helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy. We help people focus on six core issues, which we have determined need Biblical principles most and where we can have the greatest impact.

And what are some of their areas of discontent?

  • Opposition to LGBT rights
  • Opposition to Abortion’ rights
  • Abstinence-only sex education
  • Promotion of Christianity
  • Censorship and the media
  • Hotel pornography

The Watcher says of the Fanning film:

People on all sides of the political spectrum are up in arms over one particular scene in which Fanning’s character, Lewellen, is raped by an adult. Most notably, of course, fundies are upset, because they believe that they’re the only ones allowed to have sex with children.

Ooh, sorry. Anyway, you might be asking yourself some questions at this point. “Is the Watcher going to make fun of someone opposed to the rape scene? Is the Watcher pro-kiddie porn?” The answers are yes and no. As in yes, I’m about to make fun of a fundie who opposes the rape scene, and no, I am not in favor of kiddie porn. Obviously.

But the reason we have laws against child pornography is because children will be harmed psychologically by sexual encounters. I should know; it used to be my job to work with these kids. Trust me, it is NOT pretty.

So, was Dakota Fanning harmed psychologically by the production of this particular movie, and this particular scene?

The evidence I see points, actually, to “no.” It was a scene well-crafted to LOOK harmful, but that’s what good moviemaking is about. In the same way, no animals were harmed in the making of Homeward Bound, nobody was actually shot while making Saving Private Ryan, and no musclebound androids were injured while making The Terminator. If you don’t believe me, here’s an AOL news piece on it and here is a copy of the script pages. (They’re about Hounddog, wiseguy, not Arnie!)

Okay, now that my ass is sufficiently covered, bring on the fundie! From the Christian Worldview Network, it’s an article that appears to be written by Ted Baehr, but refers to him in the third person.

Salacious Screening at Sundance: “Pimps and pedophiles” are corrupting child actress, says media expert Ted Baehr

Pimps? Pedophiles? Well, let’s see. No one is having sex, so there’s no prostitution. And without prostitution, there can’t be any pimps. Pedophiles? From the Smoking Gun’s description, this scene is about as un-sexy as anything ever shot. If some pervert wants to get his rocks off watching this, he’d have to be awfully desperate. But there ain’t nothing like hyperbole when the truth is too boring, eh Ted?

On January 22, the independent movie “Hounddog” will premier at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie stars Dakota Fanning as a child who becomes sexually promiscuous and is eventually raped, after being physically and sexually abused by her disturbed father. A controversial “simulated” rape scene reportedly shows the girl’s reaction during the violent act.

Ah, the fundie scare quotes, gotta love ’em. “Simulated?” says Angry Ted Baehr. “I doubt it! I bet they’re raping her for REAL!” He doesn’t know of course. He dosen’t even know what the scene looks like, because he hasn’t seen it! That’s why he used the word “reportedly.” Fundies must stay in shape by jumping to conclusions.

He suggested that the sexualization of young children like Dakota is part of the “sick ideology” of “Freudian followers of Kinsey, radical feminists and perverts” who believe in the “pseudo-scientific” evolutionary theory that all children are born with an innate lust for sexual fulfillment.

WHOA! Evolution = child molesting perverts = feminists? And they all follow Freud and Kinsey as if they were gods? Ted, how do you expect us to take you seriously when you blather all kinds of nonsense like that? Seriously, man, get on some meds.

The Watcher at Fundie Watch wrote a brilliant piece on this film, snippits of which I quoted above. Do read the rest of their post. It is very good.

While the fundamentalist Christian’s believe that this film is harmful, not everyone feels that way:

Supporters say films such as Hounddog present the film industry with an opportunity to effect positive change by focusing on social issues from behind the camera.

“More than 5,500,000 children are involved in reports of abuse and neglect each year in America, many of them the victims of sexual abuse. These are the children the critics should be paying attention to … [n]ot the people who are trying to raise public awareness through this important film,” said Peter Samuelson, founder and President of First Star, in a response to last year’s criticisms.

According to Eric Parkinson, CEO of Distribution for Empire Film Group, Inc., the company has been “pleasantly overwhelmed” by the support being generated for Hounddog.

“This is truly one of the most important films of the year, and it’s encouraging to see the momentum building so powerfully,” he stated in a public announcement.

From Cinema Blend:

We need movies that try to confront difficult and uncomfortable matters in a frank, but not exploitative way, even if they fail. Movies that force us to think and confront our fears. Not all movies are entertainment. Unfortunately as long as there are these groups who are more concerned with hiding themselves behind their scaremongering, naïve morality and trying to force it on other people instead of facing the real issues down, the sort of problems that these kind of movies try to address will probably never be able to be properly dealt with in society.

So, why did I write this post? I am tired of people interjecting their own beliefs and ideals into the discourse of my life. Instead of the folks from CWFA using their “God-given rights” to not see this film, they want to determine what I can and cannot see and do. Their core beliefs against homosexuality, religious “freedom” (which I can guarantee does not include Islam or Judaism), and a proven failed approach at abstinence only sex-education do nothing but harm society – as does hiding ones head in the sand that things like the rape occur. (Republicans knew of the transgressions of Mark Foley with underage male pages yet buried their own heads in the sand and did nothing for more than a year until it was uncovered by others.) Groups like this do nothing but harm society in further reducing our own ability to make decisions in our lives.

This is another one of CWFA’s key issues:

In a joint effort with thirteen other groups, it released an ad which stated “DOJ and FBI should immediately investigate whether ‘adult’ videos being sold in hotels by OnCommand and LodgeNet violate long-established Federal and State laws regarding distribution of obscene material. … Adult hardcore pornography can tragically lead to sex crimes against women and children. … Yet sex videos are available in millions of U.S. hotel rooms which we strongly believe are prosecutable.”

So, as I sit in some hotel room in my many yearly business trips and opt to watch a sex film – a sex film that I would have to pay for – this will lead to my committing sex crimes? Someone needs to tell these people that sex crimes are not about sex, they are about control. And since you are trying to control what other people can and cannot see or do, I find their behavior criminal.

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15 thoughts on “Hounddog Hounded by Fundamentalists

  1. “Adult hardcore pornography can tragically lead to sex crimes against women and children.”

    I think they’re a little confused about cause and effect, but what’s new with these folks?

    BTW, here are some comparative rape rates for selected red and blue states. This is from the 2007 FBI Uniform Crime Reports:

    California – 24.7
    Connecticut – 18.8
    Massachusetts – 25.3
    Michigan – 6.7
    New York – 15.2

    Alabama – 33.4
    Alaska – 77.4
    Kentucky – 32.6
    Texas – 35.3
    Utah – 34.3

    It’s not so obvious to me that Bible-thumpin’ is driving down the rape rates.

  2. The US average is 30.0, and, yes, Alaska is the rape capital of the United States. I’m thinking they may have a typo in the Armageddon Prep handbook, having accidentally added an extra “e” in the sentence “Alaska will be Ground Zero for the End Times, and we must practice for the Rapture.”

  3. I love the concept of “mind your own business.”

    Troll spray: Unless someone is committing a crime, then it’s society’s business, of course. Anyone who gets their rocks off by watching ANY rape scene is sick in the mind and body.

  4. Personally, I greatly dislike rape scenes and if I know a movie has one, I won’t watch that movie. That’s a personal choice. But what these thumpers don’t understand is that if you are a rapist, you will be one with or without watching a “dirty movie”. If you are not one, watching the dirty movie won’t make you one.

    A person that sexually abuses other people has deep mental problems. They might get their rocks off by watching little girls singing on Sesame Street. Should we ban Sesame Street, or just ban little girls? Or cover them in burkas?

    Wouldn’t rates be reduced more effectively if we focused on root problems rather than indirect symptoms?

  5. Nice post MsJ. I agree, I don’t like someone telling me what I can or can not watch.

    I personally wouldn’t watch the movie but that is the wonderful part about the Freedom that we have in this country.

    There are so many important issues that the CWFA could be working on. Such as the fact that 88% of sexual abuse of children is never reported. They could start an awareness campaign to look for signs in children they might suspect that have been abused but have no where to turn. Give these children an option that is confidential, that feels safe to them… Now that would be time well spent.

  6. There’s other issues with this film. The movie had to be made in North Carolina because most states, especially California, now have laws against using childrent in this kind of scenes. Dakota Fanning was only 12 when it was filmed. And many of us wouldn’t even let our children audition for this film even though we had the opportunity. Some of the scenes were so graphic that the first financiers backed out and much of the first crew walked off the job. Some of those scenes went missing and were not in the final film.
    However, it did air at Sundance which is pretty big time and the reviews were really bad and nobody would buy it. The director has been looking for controversies to get it noticed but the movie just wasn’t good. And believe me there aren’t many Hollywood types who wouldn’t sell their mothers for a hit.

  7. The other thing that really annoyed Hollywood was that Fanning’s mother suggested this was the role that would get her daughter an Oscar. The Motion Picture Academy appreciated that so much they nominated 11 year old Abigail Breslin for Little Miss Sunshine just to prove how they don’t like being told who is nomination worthy.

  8. The other problem I had with the original script was that the child was extremely precocious and the implied that she was asking for it which is what I think kept the movie from being bought.

  9. It reminds me of Brooke Shields back in the day when she was in Pretty Baby…big deal about nothing, IMHO.

    If you read the script, it’s psychologically terrifying to a viewer – as the whole scene plays out in their mind. It’s dark with the occasional burst of lightening to see this or that. No skin. No sex. But that is what good psych thrillers are about.

    I heard the film sucked, but to take away the choice of someone to see it, well, that sucks even more.

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