Dakota Fanning’s Rape Scene–Reactions At Sundance

January 24th, 2007 // 15 Comments

Ever since word of Dakota Fanning’s rape scene in the movie, “Hounddog,” got out, controversy has surrounded the film, with a number of organizations and individuals speaking out against the use of such a young actress. However, Leah Rozen of People magazine reports that perhaps it was all much ado about nothing. From her Sundance Diary:

The Catholic League and other child protection advocates denounced the film, saying that the filmmakers should have cast a young-looking adult rather than a child actress.

Details of the scene in question are after the jump.

Sundance Diary: About That Dakota Fanning ‘Rape Scene’ Controversy [People]


The scene in question is so restrained, however, and so far from exploitative, that objections are likely to fade once the movie is more widely seen. (It is still seeking a distributor.) Fanning is shot almost exclusively from the shoulders up in the scene, her face expressing her character’s terror, plus a few quick shots cut in of her hand or leg trembling.

Rozen goes on to add that perhaps the biggest disappointment is probably the film as a whole, which she describes as, “a swampy tale mired in southern gothic stereotypes,” that “meanders mightily in telling how its young heroine overcomes rape, lousy relatives and an obsession with Elvis Presley.” Ugh. Well, at least the rape isn’t the worst part of the movie, right? Maybe they can put that on the DVD as its selling point.

By Lisa Timmons

  1. rootabega

    umm, hello? jena malone did Bastard out of Carolina at 12, that movie was horribly brutal with numerous scenes of abuse, why did no one object to that??

  2. CupcakeMagee

    I think that Miss Fanning’s comments are clearly the mark of an intelligent, self-aware young lady from a stable supportive family. I say kudos to her for taking on such a challenging role with such style and aplomb. And perhaps instead of being outraged by the idea of an actress who is surrounded with people looking out for her best interests, perhaps a more valid response would be to become outraged that real children lives are affected with the type of abuse that’s merely portrayed in her movie… Maybe people should spend a little less time bitching about a pretend rape and a little more time spent doing something about the fact that in the really real world every two and a half minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. But that would require some effort beyond flapping their lips, my bad.

  3. j

    Its horrible but things like this happnen to children all the time and the public should see it and become more aware
    besides, I think Dekoda can handle it

  4. angelique jackson

    Yes there is real rape out there so why worry about on screen? Because what is the point of that? to sell tickets? make money? get publicity? yes, yes, and yes. This young girl did not make this choice, her parents did and they should be chosing more responsibly for what their daughter portrays.

  5. Jennifer

    Angelique, I think Dakota’s parents chose nothing for their daughter. Dakota may be 12, but mentally she’s far older. This is a tough issue, but she can handle it and HAS handled it with remarkable maturity. Her parents would not have put her in a position to be hurt or traumatized, but for crying out loud, give this young woman some credit. She’s a great actress who is far more mature then some adults I know. She’s going to make a difference with this movie, as many have said prior, by bringing the subject to light. I feel that the people who have a problem with this subject are looking at it as a subject and have not even SEEN the movie! This movie was seen by noone outside the production crew before this past Monday, so they’re going after the issue instead of the content. IMO, that makes their arguments non-valid.

  6. Aeolus

    I believe most of the other comments cover my thoughts on the issue–or non-issue. What I would like to add is that the Catholic Church should now begin to understand how its own moral credibility on the subject has been damaged by its unwillingness to engage in open dialog with regards to its problems with pedophilia. It must be (or at least it should be) embarrassing for them to know that a twelve-year-old child is more progressive in confronting such a controversial issue than their entire hierarchy. I say, “Dakota. Be who you are–braces and all. We love ya, kiddo. (sorry about the “child” thing–but you know)”

  7. Ani

    There’s one very important thing that people are missing – which the director has pointed out time and again…

    There is no rape taking place. If you show an image of Dakota Fanning’s scared face, a hand, an ominous figure, creepy music and her yelling no, then you have a rape. It’s just the combination of images you’re presented with. It by no means implies that the images you’re watching happened in that specific order or even in that specific way.

    Is anyone else struck by the irony of a Catholic group bitching about child abuse?

  8. Bubba

    Dakota just passed the mile 1 mark on the Lohan marathon.

  9. Steven Mark Pilling

    I see much of the same old diversionary tactics here to steer things away from an ugly reality. The fact that child molestation, pornography, etc. happen is not the issue. We KNOW it does. We also know that “Hounddog” represents an enabler in that direction. Never before in the history of American feature films have children been DIRECTLY led to perform in sexual scenes with adults (and even with each other!) on a movie set. Before “Hounddog”, this only happened in overt pornography.

    What we’re seeing here is the first attempt to breach the barrier and legitimize child sex in the mainstream culture. That other, slightly lesser, abuses have happened before is absolutely no justification. They were stepping stones that has brought us to this point.

    And let’s just forget this long-term parrotting of the publicity line of “she’s mature for her age”. To blindly accept that is to ignore self-evident reality. That she can ACT mature (with a script to guide her) doesn’t mean she is. She can’t be. Nature prevents her. It also prevents her from drawing a hard line between herself and the characters she portrays… especially when graphic sex and violence is a central factor.

    This is not a matter of my personal opinion. This is a matter of history and recognized facts of nature. Don’t let Cindy Osbrink, Deborah Kampmeier and a fluff-writer from “People” magazine do your thinking for you. If any of you actually care for Dakota, for child actors and for children in general, you should be very concerned right about now.

  10. danny

    i don’t know what all the fuss is about dakota fanning doing a rape scene, its her choice no ones forcing her to do it , she growing up so if she wants to a rape scene she can, leave her alone about it

  11. tony

    you leave dakota alone she is still a wonderfull actress.

  12. Karla Owen

    Mister Pilling stated that never before had children been exploited sexually in movies—what about Pretty Baby and Blue Lagoon–two of Brooke shields early movies. I guess they didn’t fall into the same catgory?????

  13. BumbleBee

    YES I AGREE! Jena Malone did a rape scene in Bastard out of Carolina, EXTREMELY graphic! I suggest watching this movie without kids in the room. DAKOTA FANNING is a voice of awareness for all children abused or not. We need to be reminded not to take things for granted and not to get too complacent and forget that the people that hurt us the most are usually the closest ones to us. Congrats Dakota I hope you can see how important your work can be.

  14. Goldberg

    Hollywierd will always be “concerned” & “wonderful” when they promote homosexuality/pedophilia and incest.

    Who do you think finances this?

    Wake up people; these “chosen” people are perverting and raping your children.Look at the filth that is bradcast on TV. Do you think the child actors/ actors are being paid millions a picture and are not being really raped & exploited? They obey their studios,producer’s and director’s every desire sexual or otherwise. All entertainers old and young must SUBMIT to the “casting couch” This includes this little superstar. She will be as confused and perverted as Madonna, Britney, Lohan, and Winehouse. Learn what hollywierd is really doing. If some stranger offered millions to put you child in a “movie with nude scene” other than a hollywierd representatives what would you think?

    You all know this is wrong to sell your children and your self.

  15. Kenny Slater

    No one cared about the Jenna Malone rape movie because she wasn’t famous then. No one cares about kids being raped, they only care about FAMOUS kids being raped.

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