Dakota Fanning in the controversial “Hounddog” film that features a child-rape scene

Concerned Women for America, the largest women’s public policy organization in the nation, is asking retailers to take the infamous Dakota Fanning “rape” movie “Hounddog” off their shelves for the protection of children and families.

The movie earned a stunningly low $12,500 on its first weekend of release in theaters last year, and officials with Empire Film Group, which eventually picked up the film up for distribution after months of struggling, put it out on DVD.

The product now is available online and in stores, and although its re-editing has removed some of the most offensive scenes, the production wasn’t improved, according to a review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Writer/director Deborah Kampmeier has cleaned up the rape scene for this re-edited version of ‘Hounddog.’ But nothing can redeem this mendacious swamp of a film that shamelessly exploits its young heroine in the name of raising sympathy for a blighted childhood. The whole distasteful mess is sunk up to its neck in a brew of Southern Gothic atmosphere and hocus-pocus sentimentality,” the review said.

“It’s clear, from the quick cutting of the scene, that the filmmakers have snipped out the more salacious aspects of the assault. What’s left are shadows, truncated body parts and a long shot of Fanning’s vacant, dirt-streaked face,” the review continued. “This semi-tamed ‘Hounddog’ may have answered the most obvious charge about the rape scene. But the noxious sexualizing of a child permeates the movie. Fanning spends most of her screen time thinly clad, her torso swiveling in her musical moments or legs lolling open as she idles in bed. … ‘Hounddog’ winds up endorsing the very idea it ostensibly denounces – that this 12-year-old girl somehow got what she was asking for.”

The CWA said it has sent letters to retailers regarding the Feb. 17 release and noted Donna Miller, the director of the “No More Child Porn” campaign, was contacted by “a convicted child molester who told her adamantly that this type movie would be dangerous to individuals with ‘perverted sexual habits.'”

The campaign asks retailers not to stock the movie out of respect for the best interest and safety of children. It also includes an earlier letter from CWA and No More Child Porn directed to then-United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey requesting an investigation into the movie for possible child pornography violations.

Miller noted to WND that the Fanning project was being released at the same time as another Fanning film, “Secret Life of Bees.”

“One of my concerns was that Empire Film Group would try to piggyback with other Fanning films. Apparently that is the case with the release of ‘Secret Life of Bees’ and ‘Hounddog’ in the same month. If someone is a Dakota Fanning fan and wants to rent more than one Fanning movie, they stand a good chance of being fooled into picking up an R-rated movie with a child rape scene in addition to the PG-13 ‘Secret Life of Bees,'” she said.

Review of Dakota Fanning’s “Hounddog”

Miller said a number of sexual scenes were cut, including Fanning’s character “sitting nude in a tree while talking to an adult male” as well as another of Fanning and another child character “mutually fondling saying they had done it many times.”

But she listed the “sexually-charged scenes” that were included:

  • Lewellen (Fanning) asking Buddy to expose himself for a kiss (in the opening minutes of the film);

  • Lewellen’s father having sex with his girlfriend;
  • Lewellen’s father appearing nude in several scenes;
  • Lewellen wearing skimpy underwear that can be seen through in some shots;
  • Lewellen gyrating suggestively and inappropriately; and
  • Lewellen screaming lengthy blood curdling screams after she is tricked into thinking she will get Elvis tickets by dancing nude and instead is forced to remove her clothes and raped.

Miller said the movie offers pedophiles the opportunity to watch “a sexual little girl who often runs around in her underwear that is somewhat transparent.”

“This is a body of work that sexualizes children,” she continued. “Much has been made about the rape scene, but little has been made about the total sexualizing of Fanning’s character from the beginning to end of the movie.”

CWA provides on its website a list of contacts for retailers, to whom comments about the project can be directed.

WND broke the story then followed up when pro-family interests sought a federal investigation and when the movie was released in theaters.

Eric Parkinson, Empire’s CEO of distribution, called the film “the proverbial ‘wait until DVD’ title.”

“Now that it’s being released to DVD and Blu-Ray, the film is finally positioned to reach the large audience it deserves,” he said.

But CWA President Wendy Wright said customers “expect that DVDs sold at respectable stores are, well, respectable.”

“When a store sells a product, they are in essence putting their stamp of approval on the product,” she said. “Store managers, buyers, and executives may not be aware of how objectionable ‘Hounddog’ is, or that they could be complicit in the abuse of children by distributing the film.

“Theater chains recognized the serious problems with ‘Hounddog’ and declined to show it. The next step in the distribution chain is online and retail stores. By asking them not to carry ‘Hounddog,’ people can help ensure that child porn is not mainstreamed into their neighborhoods,” she said.

Miller, the organization’s chapter leader in Fayetteville, N.C., has led opposition to the movie with a campaign called “No More Child Porn.”

CWA reported the campaign, along with the efforts of Ted Baehr’s Movieguide, resulted in more than 200 movie theaters pulling the film from their screens.

The film was subsidized by about $390,000 in tax money from the residents of North Carolina. But just days before its theater release, blogger Steve Pill was reporting on the apparent verdict 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 in the movie 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 1978 movie “Pretty Baby.”

Prosecutors in North Carolina reportedly 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,.

The film project is by Deborah Kampmeier, who has 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,” she said.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.