Saturday, January 27, 2007

Updates (Round 6) on "Wrong in So Many Ways"

I have a lot to tell you about, so let's not waste any time.

First of all, Hounddog is being trashed by early reviewers of the film. While most reviews that I've read have actually DEFENDED and MINIMIZED the rape scene as "done tastefully," they have torn to shreds the movie itself, on purely artistic and entertainment levels, criticizing the plot, the dialogue, the cliche characters, and the force-fed emotions.
This is extremely good news, and quite frankly, unexpected. You would naturally assume, when you realize that our battle is not against flesh and blood, that liberal critics, who even shun the seriousness of the rape scene (and ignore other parts in the movie), would celebrate this film. But, of what I've seen so far, that is not the case. I don't agree with everything they say, but they seem to be putting down the film--with no vendetta against the subject matter! (Click here for a review of the movie by Variety; Click here for a review on Fox News) God works in mysterious ways. Let's hope and pray this trend continues. Why? Three reasons:

1.) First of all, it looks like this film isn't going to collect very many Benjamins, Washingtons, or Lincolns (pennies), for that matter. I imagine that a relatively small amount of people were going to see this film anyway, and bad reviews are only going to shrink the population of Hounddog moviegoers. As Variety's review says:

Aside from Fanning and the controversy, the film has nothing going for it commercially; sales are likely due to the cast, but paying customers will be scarce.

The director of this film is trying to make herself out to be some type of hero, who's "giving a voice" to silent, suffering women, and "raising awareness" to this important issue. If this indeed were the case (which later I will point out it is not), then her next film would be about child rape, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next would ALL be about child rape. How likely do you think that is? Or, how likely do you think that is if this movie doesn't bring her any cash? Not likely at all.

2.) Secondly, I think you can cancel Dakota's mother's "Oscar party." Unless Hollywood decides to go totally against the grain, this movie isn't going to win anything. Obviously, this is NOT specifically because of the subject matter--Hollywood has shown us time and time again that you can't underestimate what they'll give an award to. However, compile that with bad reviews of the movie, and you should have a perfectly Oscar-less production. (Yay!)

3.) Thirdly, the movie has yet to be picked up for distribution, and it's looking less likely that it ever will be. That would be some kind of message sent from distribution companies. Fox News posted an article titled No Buyers for Dakota Fanning Rape Movie by Roger Friedman. Here's some snippets from the article:

Hounddog, the simply awful movie in which 12-year-old Dakota Fanning’s character is raped, has no buyers.
"No one wants it after the terrible reviews," one distributor told me...

Indeed, the people associated with The Weinstein Company, IFC Films and First Look were among those who instantly agreed that they had no interest in Hounddog.
At this rate, this exercise in bad taste may wind up being a DVD collector’s item.

With the above-mentioned distributors out, it’s unlikely now that any major buyer will take Hounddog. And that’s just as well, considering that its release is sure to spark more outrage, protests and calls for investigations.

An e-mail I received from Paul Petersen, former child actor, current child advocate, and creator of A Minor Consideration, a child advocacy organization, said this:

No Distributors, at least at Sundance, offered to put this film into general release.

This is great news. Note that it intertwines itself with point number one. Although it seems that some distributors are backing out simply because the movie is terrible--not because of the inappropriateness of the subject matter--one has to think that the righteous indignation towards this movie is playing a role in their business decisions. There just is not enough incentive for these distributors to put themselves on the line by picking up Hounddog. And, hey, maybe distributors have a sense of decency, too!

A small distributor might pick up this film eventually, but it should be noted that smaller distributors might not be able to afford the risk of going out on such a limb. (Paul Petersen and others are trying to "ensure that even a DVD release is liable to result in criminal prosecution.") And, of course, small distributors are better than big ones.

This is my official thank you to every and any distributor who rejects this film.

The second thing I have to tell you about is that, as if the rape scene was not enough, there is more stuff in this film to get your blood-boiling:

From Variety:

Opening interludes are drenched in swampy sweat and sex, as barely prepubescent kids Lewellen (Fanning) and Buddy (Cody Hanford) scamper through the woods to find a secluded place where Buddy can show Lewellen his privates in exchange for a kiss. Lewellen shortly explains that one day she's going to kill her daddy and cut off his privates in the bargain.

Lewellen continually bumps and grinds in Elvis fashion, to the distinct disapproval of Granny, and schemes with Buddy to get tickets to an upcoming local Elvis concert; the two kids play grown-up, dressing up and pretending to drink and smoke, with her kissing him a lot; a little rich girl nicknamed Grasshopper (Isabelle Fuhrman) arrives for the summer at the mansion nearby, giving Lewellen a rival for Buddy's attention...

...loads of vile behavior, beginning with the rape but scarcely confined to it, to scant point.

From Fox News:

...12-year-old Cody Hanford, who plays Fanning’s boyfriend in the provocative and poorly written outing, may actually become more of the focus than even the star.
In the film, his character lures Fanning’s into a barn and then watches as she’s raped. Hanford and Fanning also have numerous kissing scenes, some in which they’re half-dressed.

From the Orlando Sentinel's Kathleen Parker:

The same taboo-busting impulse drives Hounddog, wherein we witness a real 12-year-old portray a girl waking up as her naked father climbs into bed with her; "dancing" in her underwear while lying in bed; and getting raped by a teenage boy.
We are, in other words, voyeurs to a young girl acting out a sexual predator's fantasies.

Also, there's reportedly a lot of "gyrating" and seductive dancing by Dakota, and more than one person has noted that there's a "lot of panties." And let's not forget about the mutual masturbation scene, that seems to have disappeared.
This movie just keeps getting better the more you know about it, doesn't it?

Also, don't allow the makers of this movie to trick you into thinking that it's "all about awareness" and a "message movie," or whatever. It's not. Roger Friedman, in his Fox News articles, said this:

Since I am one of the few who’ve actually seen it, let me explain something important. There is no point that I can find to the child’s rape.
Once it happens, it’s never discussed. The culprit is never accused or apprehended. The child never tells her story to anyone. There’s no great moment of revelation that could possibly help someone who’s watching the film. It’s simply there for shock value.
The fact that Kampmeier and the producers have somehow conned rape-assistance groups into using the movie as a public-service announcement is bizarre to me. But I guess it’s no more bizarre than using Dakota Fanning as the public defender of the indefensible.

That her moves are suggestive is another matter altogether. The director seems to be implying that Lewellen is almost asking for her rape by a 20-year-old boy who delivers the family’s milk.
It’s either that or Lewellen should be allowed to act seductively without fear of being attacked. Either way, the arguments do not stand up.

Todd McCarthy, who wrote the Variety article I mentioned, wrote this:

From here [after the rape scene] , one wants to stick close to Lewellen to study her reactions and decisions. Instead, the Strange Lady returns to distracting effect, Daddy starts running naked through town, Granny totes her shotgun around, and a plane's worth of snakes begins materializing everywhere, a matter tended to by a wise black man (Afemo Omilami), a horse trainer who endeavors to restore a measure of physical and psychic health to both Strange Lady and Lewellen.

...there is much sound and fury here signifying very little, and loads of vile behavior, beginning with the rape but scarcely confined to it, to scant point.

In summarization, then, one of the only arguments defenders of the film have been able to come up with falls flat on its face. Paul Petersen, in the e-mail I received, dismantles another of the few arguments for the film: that a couple actresses have played similar roles in the past and "turned out fine." Petersen says:

They would prefer that we not remember that Jodi Foster was stalked by no less than John Hinckley (he eventually shot President Reagan) thanks to “Taxi Driver’s” imagery. Also affected was the other young performer always cited, Brooke Shields, who had to endure a terrifying stalker for fifteen years named Mark Ronald Bailey who was finally jailed in 2000. “Pretty Baby” and “Taxi Driver” were mainstream, big studio films.

Thirdly, and finally, Dakota Fanning is "mad" and she's letting people know about it. In other words, the film's makers, and Dakota's parents, are putting her out there to defend the movie and the choice to let Dakota act in it, because they can't. Roger Friedman in one of the previously mentioned Fox News articles articulated this well:

Meanwhile, the producers of Hounddog trotted out Fanning yesterday to defend the film in places like USA Today and at another press conference.
It’s come to that, apparently. The people who should be answering questions, however, are Fanning’s parents, and the parents of the other children in the film.

Now, I will address individually some of the things Dakota said:

When it gets to the point of attacking my mother, my agent ... my teacher, who were all on the set that day, that started to make me mad...
I can let other things go, but when people start to talk about my mother, like, that's really bad in my opinion ... that's an attack, and that's not fair.

It's both cute and sad to see Dakota defending her mother. Cute, because all children should do, and should be expected to do, the same thing. Sad, because, well, honestly, how much does Dakota's mother deserve to be defended? It's sad, because Dakota can't see that many of these people criticizing her mom are being more responsible, with better priorities, and more protective than her mom is being.
Now, I do not condone any movements calling for her mother to be arrested. I think that is overreaching and counter-productive. Overreaching, because it won't happen, and counter-productive, because Dakota needs a godly mother, not no mother at all. But, the facts speak for themselves: Dakota's mother wants an Oscar and wants Dakota to "be challenged" and "grow up" as an actress; people like myself care for Dakota and other children. I'm not saying that Dakota's mother doesn't care, just that her priorities may be effecting her judgment.

Fanning also said she would recommend seeing Hounddog to her friends, with their parents' approval, because of the issues supposedly presented in this film that her friends might face, or might have already faced. As well, she said she would want to go see the film, even if she wasn't in it, and that her mother would take her.

First of all, about recommending it to her friends. The "with their parents" approval is a gigantic disclaimer, but look: Dakota would have wanted to see it, even if she wasn't in it; her mother would have let her; and Dakota would recommend it to her friends.
But what about your little sister, Dakota? No? Who gets to make that judgment call? You?

Secondly, it's again cute and sad. Because, rightfully so, Dakota is making her mom the moral authority. Unfortunately, is she trustworthy with that power?

You know, I'm an actress. It's what I want to do, it's what I've been so lucky to have done for almost seven years now. And I am getting older.

Here's something Dakota doesn't understand. Your occupation doesn't give you license to do something wrong. That's like a military sharpshooter killing innocent civilians, saying, "I'm a sharpshooter. That's what I do." Also, your occupation doesn't insulate you from any negative emotional effect. Even Coast Guard rescue swimmers can have fearful flashbacks of missions gone awry. They are not insulated from the tragedy of occasional failure.

Fanning also said that she would want to see this movie, even if she wasn't it, because it's educational.

I'm going to be a freshman in high school in September, and I think it would be irresponsible of my parents not to let me know of things that happen and to try not to get yourself in uncomfortable situations. It's educational.

Wow! A freshman in high-school, Dakota? Slap a stamp on me and call me an envelope. Why didn't you say so? You're practically a member of AARP!
In all seriousness, though the director of the film called Dakota an "old soul" and someone else stated that she is "12 going on 45," she's twelve. Period. Secondly, since when do movies become our source for education? Kids shouldn't learn about the birds and the bees at the theater, and they shouldn't learn about the corruption of the "birds and the bees," either--as in, rape, child molestation, etc. It should be the parents doing the teaching on that topic, and maybe a little can be gotten from books.
Plus the fact, that again, this movie isn't that educational.

Phew...I know that was long. I hope you were able to read it all. I'm going to leave with you with another call to keep praying and keep spreading the word about this issue. In the words of Paul Petersen:

Now we have to worry about images of Dakota showing up on the Internet. We all need to pray for her safety.

Pray for her safety, and pray for all aspects of this situation. I encourage you to go to A Minor Consideration and thank Paul Petersen personally for the work he and his organization is doing. Also, this article aforementioned by Kathleen Parker is very good, and witty. I encourage you to read it in its entirety.

~Kingdom Advancer


The Buss said...

I personally don't think that this is a prayer issue (morality in God's name), it's an issue that has potential to deeply affect and desensitize our culture to the horrors of child molestation. Keep exposing this for what it is, I support the efforts against this movie because I think it's a horrible thing, and not because God told me so, but because I told me so.

amy said...

hey..i just read that article about Varieties that you is so bad..sexually perverted movie..i can't believe that Dakota Fanning doesn't have a problem with being in this film..thank you for being willing to share this and stand up for what's right.

Jdr4Him said...

Keep up the Great work Kingdom Advancer! I know that sometimes Spreading the Truth is a thankless job but know that Ma and others like me are praying for you and this movie and its outcome.

Keep up the good work!

May God Bless You,

SolaMeanie said...

Thanks for the update, KA. This is so sad. In fact, I am fluctuating quite a bit between anger and grief. We can't expect non-Christians to act or think like Christians, but you'd think even some restraints would be universal. Not so these days.

I think everyone should read Dr. Judith Reisman's book, "Kinsey, Sex and Fraud." And then take a good look at how children are increasingly being sexualized in this country..from advertizing to film. I am glad you further described the other dubious things being portrayed in this film. Again, a case of some people defending the indefensible.

SolaMeanie said...

I should point this out also. I find it interesting that Dakota says she'll be a freshman in high school. At age 12??? I wasn't a freshman until I was 14. Maybe she's accelerated in academics, but she's still a young child with a lot of emotional maturing to go through yet.

Jaded said...

The problem with child actors is that often, they become the primary breadwinner for their families. Unfortunately, they also often become the sole breadwinner. Dakota and her sister pay the bills for the Fannings, period. No matter what job either of her parents have, they don't make the kind of money that their children make. At that point, it becomes less about letting the child have fun and more about paying the bills. It should not be acceptable for a child to have a full-fledged career just because he or she is an actor. That same child couldn't go out and get a job in any other industry, and rightfully so. A parent functioning as a child's manager or agent can draw 85% of the child's earnings as payment for services rendered and living expenses. In California, they have to save 100% of it in trust, unless the family's permanent address is in another state, at which point they can spend it. There are ways around every law, even those designed to protect children in the industry.

Even if this child is going to be a freshman in high school, so what? Children that age are still, in fact, children, no matter how mature they'd like to believe they are. They are unable to see long term repercussions for their choices and actions, and the idea that portraying such a sexually charged role will have no impact is irresponsible, at best. There is no need to show a brutal rape or a scantily clad 12 year old in order to "teach" anybody anything. There are no cirucmstances under which it is acceptable, morally or legally, to sexually objectify a child. None.

Thank God that the prayer surrounding this issue is being answered: the film will not be widely released. I will continue to pray that no others like it will be made, and for children like Dakota, who are too young to understand the repercussions of their actions.

Kingdom Advancer said...

RE: Amy

It seems--to me, at least--that Dakota cares more about "growing up as an actress" than anything about this movie that would bother her or effect her.

RE: Joshua

Thanks so much. I actually didn't think about people praying FOR ME. That makes me feel good, and makes me see why I've been able to keep up a head of steam for so long on this issue.

RE: Joel

Your welcome. You know, I think it's quite a natural thing to fluctuate between anger and grief on an issue like this.

Also, Dakota Fanning is going to be thirteen in a little less than a month, so she's not that accelerated in academics. However, it should be noted that--not only does this not make a difference--but also that she was younger when this movie was being filmed.

Kingdom Advancer said...

RE: The Buss

I'm glad that you--one way or another--are against this film. But, two points:

1.) Where does your standard of morality come from? And if it comes not from God, why do you think you have the authority to tell someone else something is wrong? Just because of the negative effects? If it comes not from God, how can you even define something affirmatively as "negative"? How is it not just the cruel--but natural and neutral--"survival of the fittest/domination of the more powerful"? How can you tell someone, like a child molester, not to do something because it's wrong? Why is it wrong then for our culture to become desensitized to the issue? Again, the negative effects? Simple humanity? Tradition? Intuition? Those are pretty good, but, in reality, if the authority is not God, it's really just "to each his own," isn't it? You "think" it's a horrible thing, but someone else might "think" it's not. In fact, there are those who don't think this movie is wrong. Who's right? What's humanity, if we are not made in the image of God? Tradition changes, unless it is a godly tradition. Your gut feeling can be wrong, can't it?

2.) I ask for prayer because that is the best and most effective thing--if not one of the only things--for people like myself to do, along with getting other people to pray and act. You may think that the positive things happening with this movie are the results of regular ole God-less, prayer-less outcry, but I think otherwise.

I hope you thoughtfully consider those points, but I thank you again for being against this movie, for any reason or from any foundation.

RE: Jaded

Yes, thank God. I said "God works in mysterious ways," noting that, if this movie doesn't get distributed, and the makers lose a lot of money, and Dakota and her parents learn that selling her sexually won't win her awards, this could send a stronger message than if the movie had simply been cancelled or blocked. You never know.

Anonymous said...

God bless you this day
Maria in the UK

K said...

Did you know that Blockbuster, L'Oreal, Delta Airlines and Pepsico are supporting the Sundance Film Festival financially????? Outrageous what companies will do for publicity!
American Family Association has made it possible so that in a few seconds time, you can send an e-mail to them! After you have sent the e-mail, AFA also gives you a list of contact information for each of the aforementioned companies to let your voice be heard even louder! This is an awesome opportunity for righteousness to prevail. Hopefully these companies will be compelled to withdraw support, but otherwise if enough Christians and/or moral Americans stand up for what is right, then their plan could backfire! Just thought I'd get the word out KA so that you can take more action!

Kingdom Advancer said...

Thanks, Maria. I'm glad I was able to get your attention. ;)

Thanks, K. I'll try to look into that soon.

Abigail Snyder said...

Thanks for mentioning this. I had actually received an e-mail from several associations(such as American Family Association) regarding these horrible movies.
It seems a tragedy that Hollywood has yet to get the point that the family-friendly movies are those that consistently bring in the most money. The other option is that they got the point but are choosing instead to promote their own cultural agenda, as perverted as it is.

Kingdom Advancer said...

I think, Abigail, that the fact is that they usually make enough money with their trash in order to produce their morality--i.e., immorality--rather than the good, family fare that rakes in the cash.