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This past weekend, I went to go see Up, Disney's Pixar animation about friendship, adventure and dogs. And not just any dogs - dogs who, when affixed with a special collar, can actually talk.

Let me first say - I liked this movie. I liked the theme of respect and kindness, of friendship and honoring special bonds. I liked the portrayal of dogs (except the whole "master" bit), I think they captured so much of what attracts us bipeds to those furry quadrupeds.

But, and you knew it was coming, I couldn't help but cringe when I saw the horde of dogs managed by the "bad guy". While the "hero dog" is a goofy, eager-to-please, golden-hued retriever, every single menacing dog is black, dark, muscular. They are Rottweilers, Dobermans, Pit Bulls, Mastiffs and one English Bulldog and they are not portrayed nicely. I mean, they *kill* people, even if it is only b/c their "master" told them to. That is just not how types of dogs should be portrayed.

Even when the ending comes about and you see the dogs are nothing more than a reflection of their owner/guardian, that they aren't inherently bad, I couldn't help but feel a bit slighted.

As a pit bull guardian, I'm used to being stereotyped. People on the internet don't hesitate to call me "ghetto trash" or claim only drug-dealing felons own pit bulls. Nevermind my college degree in Animal Science, my full-time job as an education coordinator at a sanctuary, or that I don't do or deal drugs. Minor details. People in the off-line world are a mixed bag. Some love my pit bull, others cringe, some tell me they get a bad reputation, others tell me they should all be killed. There are cities and states that discriminate against me based on how one of my dogs looks.

So it is difficult for me to watch Up and not feel as if the creators have bought into the hype, that they are perpetuating stereotypes and myths that have caused the deaths of thousands of dogs.

This film would have been a lot more fun, a lot more enjoyable had the dogs been a mixed bag, had they been different colors, different sizes, different breeds (mixed breeds too) and had the "good" dog not been the stereotypical "good" dog with his blond hair and retriever'ish looks.



( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 25th, 2009 02:00 am (UTC)
I'd prefer if all dogs were mutts, honestly! Go Benji!

I can think of one movie, off the top of my head, that has a 'bad' dog as the absolute greatest good character - Homeward Bound. Chance is a... honestly, I don't know, but with Michael J. Fox's voice he's the best character in the movie, and is nothing but love and sweetness.

Oh, and also? The only dog that's ever bit me was my friend's (mom's) little poodle-thing. Nasty little ball of curly white fur, he was. I don't think any of those things about you for having Mina at all. A person who takes in orphaned dogs is just an awesome person, period.

Edited at 2009-06-25 02:02 am (UTC)
Jun. 25th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC)
While I like me my pit bulls, there's something a little creepy about the hype surrounding "purebreeds".

Chance is an American Bulldog and rocks. :) I do heart Homeward Bound!

Aw, thanks. It's generally folks who haven't met Mina who are quick to make rather mean statements.
Jun. 25th, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC)
The hype around purebreeds is not just creepy, it's also one of the reasons people won't take dogs from shelters, isn't it? I'm having a problem at the moment (see, it's all about me) because my cousin's dog has just died. This cousin is one of the very best dog friends you could imagine. But he's insisting on getting another dog from a breeder, so he can have a purebred again. (Standard Poodle, BTW.) I haven't even had the nerve to tell him he should go to a shelter. :-(
Jun. 25th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
I have yet to meet Mina IRL to make up my mind. Please post her to me. kthxbye
Jun. 25th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC)
Celeste ate the box I was going to send Mina in, sorry! :)
Jun. 25th, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC)
Jun. 25th, 2009 04:59 am (UTC)
I haven't seen Up, but based on this post I agree with everything.

(From a different perspective, I find the stereotypical portrayal of "bad" things being black and "good" things being light as really tiresome and overdone.)

Also... based on purchasing habits after movies with dogs are released - I think that all dogs shown in entertainment should be mutts, so that if people are going to be ridiculous and go get a dog based on a movie, at least they adopt rather than buy. I cringe every time I see a movie featuring a purebred dog.

I'm very surprised that people you interact with online are so ignorant. Where are you encountering people who would say that? Maybe I just keep myself restricted within smaller and less ignorant circles. :(
Jun. 25th, 2009 09:31 am (UTC)
From a different perspective, I find the stereotypical portrayal of "bad" things being black and "good" things being light as really tiresome and overdone.

I agree.

I'm sorry to say that Casper (icon) disagrees. But then he's quite the most self-centred thing I've ever known, of any species.
Jun. 25th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)
I wholeheartedly agree on both the poor use of "light v dark" for the "good v. bad" theme and on being considerate of how stupid people can be post-movies. :)

These are generally people on comment boards responding to news articles about dogs - I don't take horrible offense at what they say, but it seems so mean-spirited. The people I hang out with certainly don't make such statements (lest they wish for me not to hang out with them anymore, heh).
Jun. 25th, 2009 08:32 am (UTC)
Weeellll there's a movie I won't be seeing. I'm just too touchy about the Dobe thing these days. Sigh. Also agree with _unsure that the bad=black good=blond thing is really problematic.
Jun. 25th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
I knew going in to the theater that I would be annoyed but yes, the main "bad dog" is a Doberman and while he ends up in a good, happy situation (they all do) in the end, it was way too cliche (and off-base).

Yes, the use of color was in poor taste, imo.
Jun. 25th, 2009 08:36 am (UTC)
heh. Nuance and Disney never did go together.

I also find the stereotype of black/dark=bad and white/light/blonde= good troubling.

pfft disney.
Jun. 25th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
You're right and I expected nothing less, heh.

It's unfortunate that, as a kids flick, Disney is further inculcating children to color biases.
Jun. 25th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
By the way. . . .

You have positively impacted my outlook and education on Pit Bulls and dogs in general since I met you on Dog Park almost what. . . 8 years ago?

Before meeting you and Miss Mina I was inherently afraid of pit-bull type dogs without regard for their upbringing or socialization.

Now, I've been able to approach Pit Bull (and other bully type dog) owners at dog-friendly events and snuggle with their dogs after getting permission first.

More importantly, I've been able to advocate for the dogs in discussions with those who equate pit bull type dogs with fighting, drug dealing and "the ghetto".

You and Mina have been a blessing :)

Jun. 25th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC)
Wow, it has been that long hasn't it?!?

That is so great to hear. I tell you, nothing makes me feel like a Very Happy Person more than people wanting to pet Mina!! When I don't have the girls, I always make a point to ask to pet the bully dogs, generally inciting an inappropriately happy response. :)

Thanks for advocating on behalf of the dogs. In the end, we're the only voice they have.
Jun. 25th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
Wow, I didn't realize that about Up. And, I was looking forward to seeing it. I might have to pass now.

You are an amazing person, my friend. Absolutely amazing. And, your dog kicks ass (in a good way!).
Jun. 25th, 2009 06:36 pm (UTC)
To be honest, I'd still say go. I went knowing that there would be an obvious bias as far as breed/color was concerned. It was still funny and full of really nice themes (that mostly overshadow the dark=bad/light=good theme).

Or maybe just wait until video - cheaper and you can throw stuff at the tv (well, or not) or stop it, heh. :)

As I always say - it takes one to know one! You've done amazing stuff, especially for your companion animals.

Edited at 2009-06-25 06:38 pm (UTC)
Jun. 25th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
I was disappointed in their choices of dogs, too. It was the one thing wrong with an otherwise lovely, heartwarming movie.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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