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.