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Classification of the film Show Dogs

Classification Board

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On 11 May 2018, the Classification Board (the Board) classified the film, Show Dogs, PG (Parental Guidance), with consumer advice of ‘mild violence’.

The Board is aware of social media commentary over the past couple of days that a scene or two in Show Dogs, may cause offence to some viewers, who are of the opinion that the touching of a dog character’s genitals, and the accompanying dialogue, may promote acceptance of grooming of children for sexual exploitation. There is no suggestion in the film that the dog is a metaphor for a child.

Context is crucial when classifying a film. The scene or scenes relating to this are in the context of going undercover at a dog show, in order to find and rescue a Panda cub being smuggled as part of the illegal, endangered species trade. Hence, the Rottweiler dog needed to conform to the requirements of dog show exhibiting and judging.

The scene or scenes relating to this are not sexual in nature and were not assessed by the Board under the classifiable element of sex. The element of sex is for matters pertaining to sexual acts but not limited to sexual intercourse. As the scene or scenes were in the context of dog show competition, participation and judging, it was assessed as thematic content.

The Australian distributor for Show Dogs, Roadshow Films Pty Ltd, has advised that the American creator of the film is editing it, following comments made in social media that the film may contain scenes offensive to some viewers. The film is slated for an Australian release on Thursday, 5 July 2018.

The Board is also aware of a number of false statements  made through crowd-sourced contributions on the website, IMDb, to alleged classifiable elements in Show Dogs, including this statement, “The movie contains 9 'f-words' and 1 use of the 'c-word' as well as other mild profanities.” Such coarse language is not used in this film. There are also false statements about the level of violence, including this claim, “There is a scene involving a bloody shootout between the cops and the drug gang. Sight of bloody gun violence. Also a very shocking scene (see frightening and intense scenes).” The film depicts a wrestle in a shed and a gunshot or shots are fired but none hit a person. As there is no injury, there is no blood depicted.

Potential viewers of this film should refer to the National Classification Database entry for Show Dogs, which includes a matrix identifying content for the six classifiable elements in Australia: themes, violence, language, drug use, nudity and sex.

Margaret Anderson
Acting Director
Classification Board