There’s been an incredible amount of controversy swirling around Dakota Fanning’s next film, Hounddog. I know Dakota Fanning and controversy aren’t words you usually hear together, but when she’s in a movie about child rape people tend to sit up and take notice.
Early reports which we brought you here indicated that the role she was being asked to undertake would involve some things that can only be considered truly horrific for a still pre-teen girl. Originally, the script was rumored to call for Fanning’s character “to be raped in one explicit scene and to appear naked or clad only in underpants.” That single sentence launched a firestorm of outrage, and rightly so. Acting or not, putting a kid in that situation is questionable at best and flat out satanic evil at worst.
Since running that story, Hounddog has become one of the most hotly debated films on Cinema Blend. Our comments section on that story is still blazing away with a mix of creepy possible pedophiles and shocked parents outraged that her parents would allow her to do this. Honestly, half the people we’ve had commenting on it flat out ought to be in prison, which only makes the whole thing a little more disgusting. There are actually people out there slavering to see Dakota Fanning naked. Not just one or two, but a lot of them. It’s sick.
Happily, it’s starting to sound like those early reports of Dakota Fanning being stripped nude and raped for Oscar gold may have been somewhat exaggerated. Hounddog is currently screening at the Sundance Film Festival, and early reports from critics who have seen the film indicate the contested rape scene has been greatly minimized.
AICN for instance has a review from a scooper who says, “Although that scene would be repulsive due to its subject matter alone, it is handled as tastefully as possible: the camera focuses on Fanning's face, hands, and feet, and the scene does not linger exploitatively. It is as brief as it could be while still getting its impact across.” To me, that sounds a lot more acceptable than early descriptions of what she was being asked to do.
To further ease all of our minds, the Richard over at Filmstalker claims that from what he’s been able to dig up, “she was probably just asked to pretend she was being held down and she was fighting against someone holding her.” He adds, “She had her clothes on and there was no one around her except for the usual behind the scenes crew, according to those on set there is no other actor with her in that scene, she's on her own.”
So look, controversy over right? There’s nothing sick going on here. Move along. Dakota Fanning does not need protected, right? The Catholic League disagrees. Variety says they’re calling for it to be investigated as child pornography. They claim that even though Dakota says she wanted to do it, a 12-year-old is not qualified to make those kinds of decisions. “The process by which the child actor or actress gets to do this ... it's not like a kid wants a minibike or karate lessons. A lot of weight is being put on this child,” says one child protection consultant.
Except it’s really starting to sound like she didn’t’ do anything. So what’s with all the saber rattling? But they’re asking, “Who's looking out for this kid? My question would be, 'What do you need my client in this scene for? You can't find an arm or a leg in Hollywood?'”
Look, when this story first broke, long before anyone saw the film, I was as outraged as anyone. It sounded sick, twisted, and really really wrong. But those original reports were clearly exaggerated and from what people who have actually seen the film are saying, it doesn’t sound like there was anything morally unacceptable going on. Dakota’s mother let her do it, she didn’t do anything too outside the realm of acceptability for a 12-year-old, so why are we still talking about this? Time to drop it folks.