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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

“does the dog die in that movie?”


Someone asked, in response to my review of the thriller The Gift — which features a beautiful dog that will apparently be put in jeopardy — whether the dog dies. As if I’d spoil such a thing!

And then just today I posted a review of Max, about a military dog with PTSD, and I see that this is a film that has been prompting moviegoers to preemptively ask the same question.

That was when I found Does the Dog Die?, the website that will answer that question for you. Just input the name of the movie, and you will be spoiled in this regard.

Though I don’t know why anyone would want to know that in advance…

posted in:
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  • Beowulf

    You really don’t understand? I have friends who WILL NOT see a movie in which an animal is harmed.

    Didn’t Old Yeller go to the animal retirement farm….? I know my childhood pet dog did, ’cause my dad told me so.

    Typical Disclaimer: “No animals were harmed in the making of this motion picture.”
    To which I reply, “Oh, yeah, what about the chicken sandwiches at the catering tent?”

  • RogerBW

    Indeed. I’ve never met a person who feels this way, but I’m assured they exist.

    Thus perhaps the widely-noised spoiler about John Wick.

  • amanohyo

    Are these friends comfortable watching the near constant stream of innocent humans being harmed and killed in our forms of entertainment? If so, that’s kind of bizarre. I suppose it’s impossible to feel a deep connection to every human we see on a screen – it would be too overwhelming, and if they had a strong connection to a dog when they were young, those memories would affect their emotional reactions later in life.

    It’s similarly strange that Cecil the Lion inspires more attention and outrage than the rape and murder of fellow human beings in Zimbabwe. Perhaps the human suffering is too great to absorb? Perhaps we avoid thinking of human death in general because it’s a reminder of our own? Maybe Cecil’s death serves as a symbol of the oppression of poor and weaker countries and/or a sign of the willingness we have as a species to destroy our home for short term pleasures?

    It’s dangerous to try and measure one life against another, although politicians, doctors, and generals do it all the time. Caring passionately about animal lives is certainly better than being apathetic to all life. That said, there is an element of self-hatred in someone who is more comfortable watching a person die than a dog. The implication is that the dog is innocent, but the person may have deserved it. Outside of a religious context, I don’t understand it. Maybe you have to grow up with a dog to really get it.

    That’s a good point about the chicken sandwiches. Sadly some animal somewhere is harmed by the making of almost anything these days. My general rule is that I don’t eat any animal that I couldn’t kill with my bare hands. I can snap the heads off of fish and chickens all day, but anything smarter is off the table. It’s not ideal, but I think I can face those angry chicken ghosts in the afterlife. The fish ghosts won’t even remember me, so I’m all good there.

  • RogerBW

    It is bizarre, but that’s the culture we have.

  • If we were talking about animal snuff films, in which animals were actually hurt or killed, I could understand people having a problem with that.

    But we’re talking about fictional stories in which no real animal is actually killed. I know how attached we can get to pets — I’ve been a pet owner — but powerful emotions are the basis of a well-told story. Can that be abused by bad storytellers? Can it become a cheap manipulation? Sure. But so can any trope onscreen. Might as well automatically eliminate all films in which someone’s heart is broken by the love of their life.

  • Beowulf

    I’m not sure this is a true story, but….
    In one of the Lethal Weapon films Mel and a bad guy fight it out in a flaming warehouse or lumber yard. A small dog is seen entering. Mel wins and the scene ends. Later, test audiences were overwrought that the tiny dog was killed and their concern harmed the rest of the film. A shot of the dog running out of the conflagration was shot and inserted into the film.

    In Independence Day Will Smith’s family is fleeing down a tunnel and finds a side door that leads to a small room. A fireball is rushing down the tunnel, about to kill hundreds of people, but the audience shrieks in delight when the family dog leaps in just as the fireball passes. Whew…dog safe, people crispy critters!

  • fisherandsons

    Actually, there are scientific explanations on why we vocalize our outrage over things like this over mass murder. The idea that humans should be valued over animals is something that a lot of people have a fundamental issue with. I think you see responses from people over animals because of this. They have no vocalization that we understand and so we tend to fight for them.
    The way we treat our fellow animals (of which humans are a part of, just another species) is repulsive. The way we categorize as one being worth more than another is also repulsive. A life is a life no matter if it has a human face or not. There is quite a bit of difference between the flow of life and death and the trophy hunting of animals and the human trafficking that occurs. Man, is the worst thing that ever happened to this Earth.

  • Allison

    I agree . We have to have a voice for those that don’t . Seeing someone that can’t fight for themselves such as a child or animal harmed is awful . Man treats animals and humans despicably.

  • Saori

    Actually, children and animals are both seem as innocents, who cannot truly defend themselves.

    I will happily watch movies involving death, in which said humans are able to effect the outcome. But mudering children and animals is a cheap storytelling technique utterly panned by people who actually write, simply because it is a lazy sympathy play.

    Will I watch I am Legend? Yeah, its a great movie. It’s also one of the only movies that actually does animal death in a way that isn’t meant to shock the audience.

    The reason People don’t like watching dogs die, possibly even more than humans, is literally because of our feelings on innocence. This is why child serial killers, and animal villains, for instance, Cujo, are more emotionally distressing than say, The Revenant. However, if an animal or child presents a direct threat (the bear in Revenant, the dogs in The Walking Dead, Cujo) out feelings change, and reflect distress at the damage done to our perceived innocence.

    It’s not something wrong with our culture, or even strange. It’s empathy.

  • dudits

    yes and john wick got it right. That shit would happen to people if a dog was killed. A human? Eh dime a dozen, but a dog? Nope, after that ya gotta go to their home and butcher the whole family and burn that bitch to the ground lol. But seriously.. it’s true.

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