Formerly "Dave's Blog About Movies and Such"

Monday, February 11, 2013

Beyond the Myth: A Film About Pit Bulls and Breed Discrimination (2010)

dir. Libby Sherrill

I try to be good person, try not to be bigoted, try to give all the benefit the doubt; but sometimes I can’t help it, sometimes my fears overtake me, causing me to mistrust certain types. Every time I’m walking down the street and I see, a few blocks ahead, a certain kind of...well, you know the type, I cross the street. I don’t make a big show of it, mind you; I casually walk away, as if I just happened to be crossing the street anyway, to get to the...oh I needed to get to the grocery store on this side: that’s why I had to cross the street. And a few blocks after passing the undesirable I realize, dangnabit, that’s not the grocery store I needed to go to. Wouldn’t you know it, I was on the right side of the street to begin with. Well, I’ll just have to cross back. Now I ain’t proud of this fear, and for years I tried to hide it; but you know what, I think I finally just gotta own up to it: I’m terrified of pit bulls. I’m a dog racist.

Of course, as with most people who share my fear, I’ve never had a run-in with pit bull; I’ve got no personal experience to justify my fear. So maybe it’s their representation in the media that has caused me to think of pit bulls as thugs, vicious killers. Is the fact that so many news stories of dog attacks involve pit bulls a result of their vicious nature, or just a bias against this particular dog breed? I don’t know—maybe it just sells more papers to put “Pit Bull Attack” in the headlines, reinforcing the fears of those of us who’ve never had run-ins with pit bulls but just know they’re up to no good. Then again, there must be a reason so many assholes who train dogs for fighting use pit bulls. They certainly never use Shi Tzu’s (my favorite breed, for what it’s worth).

Nevertheless, I wanted to challenge my bigotry, so I decided to give the pit bull documentary Beyond the Myth a chance. Now, I am well aware that just by posting this review, no matter what side I take on the issue, I’m setting myself up for angry comments from either side. But here goes. I wanted to have my mind changed, to be challenged, and in some ways, Beyond the Myth did the trick; but as for the actual quality of the movie,’s an emotionally charged anecdote-filled, advocacy piece—not a documentary proper.

Beyond the Myth was so replete with lovable pit bulls that I did start to warm up to them; and the doc did bring up some good points, points that I agree with—vicious dogs are usually the result of shitty fucking owners who mistreat their animals, rather than the dogs’ natures—but it didn’t present any of the scientific or historical analysis I was craving. Although I rethought some of my misplaced fears, I doubt this doc would sway any of the hardcore pit bull-haters who proudly flaunt their hatred of this breed.

Dave's Rating:


John said...

Great review, and it really hit home because I, too, am a dog racist against pit bulls. And I LOVE dogs- even ones with sketchy backgrounds like German shepherds (my favorite breed, even), but pit bulls terrify me.

My neighbor has a pit. The dog is an exceedingly friendly dog. But it's AGGRESSIVELY friendly. It damn near knocked me over one day trying to lick my face. And I feel like that's the perfect synopsis for the dog in general. Even when it's behaving as friendly as possible, it's still scary. It actually worried the hell out of me and all this poor dog was trying to do was lick my face.

Dave Enkosky said...

I know, I've never not been terrified when encountering a pit bull. Maybe it's because, even when they are friendly, they're still so powerful that they could maim by mistake.

Audrey said...

But that's true of almost any dog. Any dog can be dangerous if not properly handled. The only dogs I usually encounter while walking mine that act viciously are the little ones. I wouldn't trust them for a second. But you're right, they can't do much damage. I keep my distance, though, 'cause I don't want to test that. As for dogs that are aggressively friendly, I've had more trouble with boxers at the dog park than any other. Those bastards can jump straight up into the air to try to lick your face, and often I just get a dog snout to the mouth with fifty pounds of dog behind it.

Dave Enkosky said...

That is definitely true. I'm pretty sure that 99% of my ant-pit bull bias is media-related. And I have definitely met some extremely large, overpowering dogs that have knocked me over before.