The religious outcry about the screening of the film Hounddog at Sundance is only the latest wrinkle in religious hypocrisy.It reveals some severely misplaced priorities. In Hounddog, child actor Dakota Fanning plays a 12-year-old who is raped.
Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission and publisher of the Web site movieguide.org, claims “Hounddog” breaks federal child-pornography laws….Roman Catholic activist Bill Donohue called for a federal investigation…..Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said he has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether anti-pornography laws have been broken.
What they should be more concerned about is the centuries-long silence, and in many cases complicity of the church (I speak here generically of all religious institutions–if the shoe fits) in child sexual abuse.
I will also point out here that by invoking child-pornography statutes, these religious spokesmen admit they believe rape is about sex, instead of realizing it is mostly about violence, power, and control.
It seems they do protest too much. Why the outcry over a scene portraying something that happens with regularity in real life? Why aren’t these religious spokesmen more concerned about rooting out the actual problem. Actual 12-year-olds are raped, not a simulated scene with no nudity, but actually raped by their trusted family members and sometimes the clergy. This is what the subject of the outcry should be.
Fortunately director Deborah Kampmeier is an uncompromising woman. (So they can’t scream “male exploitation”). She waited 10 years to get this film made, and would not agree to have the scene cut. Clearly, it’s because this issue hovers like a dark demon in many women’s pasts. Getting it out in the open can expose both the perpetrators of such sickness, and the twisted culture of patriarchy which supports it.
We can trace this misguided culture to the one-way religious teaching allowing the victimization of children. On the one hand, we have the Ten Commandments, which say “honor thy father and thy mother.” (Exodus 20:12) So under religion, kids are forced to give unquestioned loyalty to their parents, even if the parents are abusive louts undeserving of respect. Then we have Jesus who said “Thine enemies shall be they of thine own household,” (Matt 10:34), allowing for selective disowning of family when it suits someone’s ‘divine’ purpose. Usually a self-righteous parent of an LGBT child.
I’m sick and tired of the religious whining whenever an artist brings up something that shines a harsh light on religion. If anyone’s offended by a 12-year-old being portrayed in a simulated rape scene, don’t go to the movie–it’s not like this is prime-time TV, folks.
Don’t pretend our society is so advanced that these real-life bogeymen don’t exist in real-life closets–especially in the most religious places like the American South.
Fox News and Drudge are now crowing that the film is in bad taste, and distributors don’t want any part of it. Roger Friedman claims the rape scene has no point, and raised ethical concerns about Dakota Fanning’s mother. Personally, I’d like to make those evaluations myself. What’s the rush to quash something in advance, that people will clearly make up their own minds about? Censorship and prior-restraint always backfire. If Hounddog is a bad film, these commentators have just made sure a lot more people will want to see it.
The Smoking Gun has posted the script pages for the rape scene, complete with requisite ridicule, calling the scene ‘creepy.’
Then, after Buddy tells her to remove her clothes, the script notes that, “We see Lewellen’s clothes hit the floor. Lewellen’s underwear hits the floor hard, with defiance.” No, we’re not sure how a little girl’s undies can hit the floor with defiance. But we’re not auteurs.
You see, it’s like this: They boys asked her to take her clothes off. She didn’t want to, so her underwear hit the floor with defiance. Get it?? It’s also clear the director used a crucifixion metaphor–as the girl is raped, she presses her hand down on a nail to distract her from the emotional and physical pain of the rape. Blood streams down her hand. I find this to be powerful. Many adult women who have had such childhood experiences may be able to experience a catharsis through the scene. Why does anyone think they can tell us what art is, and how we should appreciate it?
Let the artists work!