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‘Hounddog’ movie depicts child rape

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Pro-family advocates were pleased when “Hounddog,” a film that depicts the rape of a 9-year-old girl, did not enjoy the widespread exposure its director had wanted. It opened in only 11 theaters nationwide Sept. 19 and earned a dismal $13,744 at the box office during the first weekend.

Hounddog stirred controversy last year when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and has drawn extensive protests including movie critic Ted Baehr’s call for a boycott of the film just before its release.

“These despicable movies promote pedophilia, whether intentionally or unintentionally,” Baehr, founder of Movieguide, said. “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.”

The North Carolina chapter of Concerned Women for America called on citizens to stop the distribution of Hounddog in theaters, and now they’re urging people to help block its release on DVD. Hounddog, which stars 14-year-old Dakota Fanning, was filmed in North Carolina two years ago.

Fanning, who also starred in “Charlotte’s Web” and “War of the Worlds,” plays Lewellen, a sexually promiscuous young girl who lives in a broken home in the rural South during the 1950s. Though several scenes involving Fanning are overtly sexual, the most brutal is when she is raped by a teenage boy who tempts her with tickets to an Elvis concert.

For years no sponsors would take on the film because they knew the rape scene would draw much criticism, but Deborah Kampmeier, the film’s writer and director, believed the scene was part of the character’s journey and could not be removed or even implied. She finally secured a distributer, but theaters have refused to show the film because of concerns expressed by the public, several news reports indicate.

In the press kit for the film, Kampmeier defends the sexual scenes involving the child actress.

“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,” Kampmeier said.

But Donna Miller of Concerned Women for America in North Carolina said in a news release that such depictions should not be accepted by society, particularly since it could open the door for child pornography to be mainstreamed into the entertainment industry.

“This movie is about a 9-year-old girl, not an adult woman,” Miller said. “She should be outside skipping rope or riding her bike, not ‘celebrating the power and creative force of her sexuality.'”

Miller’s group noted that the North Carolina Department of Commerce gave nearly $400,000 in taxpayer dollars to producers in order to entice them to film the movie in the state. While the practice is common for all types of movies in various states, Miller hopes concerned citizens will object to their money being given to Hounddog.

CWA of North Carolina sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey seeking an investigation into the production of the movie and warning that the Justice Department’s efforts to crack down on child predators and child sexual exploitation would face a major setback if the sexual exploitation of a child is shown in movie theaters and excused as artistic.

Several mainstream movie reviewers have objected to the disturbing content, and even film critic Roger Ebert called the movie “grotesque and lurid.”

“For this gruesome director who has wallowed in perversion to say this is the child exploring her sexuality is insane,” Baehr said. “It’s worse than insane. A child of that age doesn’t understand the consequences.”

The movie has been removed from AMC theaters, but Cinemark and National Amusements are still carrying it in a few locations. Miller is urging the public to contact those chains and respectfully request that the film be pulled.

“Ask these companies to take a stand for family values and the protection of children,” CWA said in a news release Sept. 25. “Share your concerns about this movie being shown in your community, and how such obscene material could desensitize people to crimes committed against children.”
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.

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