Dakota Fanning in the controversial “Hounddog” film that features a child-rape scene
There’s more trouble for “Hounddog,” the controversial Dakota Fanning movie featuring a depiction of a rape of a 9-year-old that opened last weekend and generated only about $1,100 from each of its 11 theaters.
A report at Contact Music.com today said officials at AMC theaters have pulled the film from its few theaters involved. The report blamed the move on “mounting pressure from family values groups upset about a rape scene.”
WND reported earlier on the take from the first weekend of the movie, released by Empire Film Group, whose officials jumped into the project after “Hounddog” caused waves at the 2007 Sundance film festival and was unable to attract a sponsor.
The company released the film last weekend, but even before the release, blogger Steve Pill was reporting on a statement from the public.
“I received a somewhat rueful message of congratulations from Eric Parkinson, the CEO of distribution for Empire Film Group,” he wrote. “According to him, more than 200 theaters across the country had cancelled their scheduled screenings of the motion picture ‘Hounddog,’ citing pressure from ‘vocal groups.’”
Fanning’s behavior has been described as more explicit than what was required of Jodie Foster, who as a 12-year-old played a prostitute in “Taxi Driver,” a 1976 Martin Scorsese production, or Brooke Shields, who was a New Orleans brothel worker in the “Pretty Baby” movie from 1978.
The Numbers website noted “Hounddog” played in 11 theaters across Canada and the U.S. on its first weekend, with a total gate of $12,500.
The movie had been the subject of several investigation requests and was targeted just a week ago in a boycott launched by noted movie critic Ted Baehr of Movieguide and the Christian Film & Television Commission.
“These despicable movies promote pedophilia, whether intentionally or unintentionally,” said Baehr. “There should be a massive public outcry against them. The inclusion of children in sexually explicit films is inappropriate. There also is no excuse for the authorities to allow such material to be shown publicly.”
“As an adult whose job should be protecting children, we have to realize there are those who are willing to accept the blurring of lines between adults and children in sexual acts,” said Donna Miller, chief of the No More Child Porn campaign, which joined with Baehr. “Even experts such as the American Psychological Association promoted the blurring of those lines when they published in their journal the Rind Study that stated that sex between men and nine-year-old boys was not always harmful.
“I believe [director] Deborah Kampmeier also blurred those lines when she made Dakota Fanning’s character a sexually aggressive little girl at the age of nine,” Miller said.
“Much has been made about the rape scene regarding lighting – indicating that it was done in taste, etc. But there is no doubt that Fanning’s character asked a boy to expose himself, that she would give him a kiss for doing so, and had done so with other boys. What does this tell other little girls,” Miller continued.
The Contact Music report said prosecutors in North Carolina, where “Hounddog” was filmed, reviewed the movie in late 2007, interviewing crew members, producers and Fanning, who was 12 when the movie was made. The prosecutors said some people might find the film “disturbing and distasteful,” but there was no evidence that the scene constituted “sexual activity” under North Carolina law,.
Kampmeier, in promoting the project just a week ago, said opponents were “projecting their anger and their fear onto my film. A lot of agendas are being projected off this film that have nothing to do with the film, and they’re being projected onto it by people who haven’t actually seen the film.”
A brief review of online postings showed that there currently are no theaters within 20 miles of Chicago showing “Hounddog,” nor are there any theaters within 30 miles of Dallas. A number of online ticket services showed no listing for “Hounddog.” It is possible an isolated theater may, in fact, be continuing to show the movie.
A critic at Cinemablend, however, said the protests by pro-family groups had nothing to do with the movie’s withdrawal.
“Those who have seen the movie (of which I can almost guarantee none will be from [Concerned Women for America, one of the groups opposed to its theme]) have confirmed that the rape scene lasts less than a minute and nothing more is seen than tight closeups of Dakota Fanning’s face and hand and the movie is more about her way of trying to deal with her problems and overcome them,” the critic said.
Miller said the next goal is to keep pressure on those who may want to release the movie on DVD.
“We may still pay a high price … because there are so many distribution outlets. THAT’s why they need to be stopped BEFORE being made and NC lawmakers need to listen,” she said.
She had raised complaints earlier when it was revealed that the state of North Carolina subsidized the movie’s production with $387,000.
When the movie was released, the comments from various reviewers included:
- “Kampmeier … has crafted a howler of a bad script, shows little affinity for working with actors and displays no visual sense behind the camera.”
- “Rarely has there been a movie as misguided as Hounddog, which self-righteously indulges in exploitation while loudly decrying it.”
- “Take away the ‘hound’ part of the title and you have an appropriate descriptor of this production.”
Alex Jackson at FilmFreakCentral wrote earlier: “The film is offensive in precisely the way you think it’s going to be but surprised you by becoming offensive on a whole new level. Everything in the film revolves around a scene where Dakota Fanning is raped … Before The Rape, ‘Hounddog’ plays like one big striptease leading up to it: in the very first scene, Fanning promises her playmate a kiss if he shows her his penis, and throughout the picture, Kampmeier has her prancing around in her panties, gyrating in her rendition of Elvis Presley’s ‘Hounddog,’ and going swimming in an undershirt.”
The director, Jackson wrote, “dramatizes that age-old justification for sexual aggression: the b**** was asking for it. The b**** in this case, of course, being a 12-year-old girl.”
Vic Holtreman at ScreenRant wrote of Fanning’s dancing: “Seeing an undeveloped 12 year old moving like that is just plain creepy.”
“I ‘ve never seen a 12-year-old wearing just underwear in a movie in so many scenes. There were also instances of her lifting her dress to carry fruit or to pull something she’d been carrying out of her underwear,” Holtreman wrote.
“Those creepy guys who ogle kids underwear ads in the JC Penny (sic) catalog will no doubt enjoy this film, everyone else… not so much,” he said.
The letter warned the Department of Justice efforts to crack down on child predators and child sexual exploitation would be “handcuffed” if the sexual exploitation of a child is filmed, shown in movie theaters, given tax breaks and excused as “artistic.”
Kampmeier explained in the film’s press kit about Fanning, “She is simply and innocently experiencing and relishing the aliveness of her being, the life force pulsing through her body, celebrating the power and creative force of her sexuality that is her birthright.”
Said Miller: “This movie is about a 9-year-old girl, not an adult woman. She should be outside skipping rope or riding her bike, not ‘celebrating the power and creative force of her sexuality.’”
Baehr was more direct.
“For this gruesome director who has wallowed in perversion to say this is the child exploring her sexuality is insane. It’s worse than insane. A child of that age doesn’t understand the consequences,” he said.