I’ve mentioned the Fanning sisters before, but I thought I should remind people of the controversy over Dakota’s role in Hounddog. It follows the same pattern: brilliant child actor plays a transgressive role and the usual crowd complain without asking what Dakota thought. This sort of comment was typical:

It would be horrible for such a talented young child to be damaged by any parental negligence or undue psychological pressure by the film makers. Source

Well, was Dakota damaged? Hardly. Instead she has spoken out publicly in defence of the film. She is reported in a 2007 edition of US Today as saying:

Some who bashed the film’s concept “were attacking my family and me, and that’s where it got too far,” says Fanning, 12, jabbing her finger into a table at a restaurant. “Pretty much everybody who talked about it attacked my mother, which I did not appreciate. That was extremely uncalled for and hurtful.” “I know my mom would take me to see it,” said Fanning, who turns 13 in February. “You have to prepare your children for things that happen in the world. Everything isn’t rosy.”

But this is the pattern. In seeking to ‘protect’ the child from harm, they are the ones who cause the harm. Here is a video of Fanning commenting on the controversy:

Seem like a damaged child? Of course not. She looks exactly like the composed and intelligent child she was. She also knew very well that her critics wanted to silence her.

It’s a story about a girl whose voice and spirit are silenced, and then it’s about her reclaiming her voice on a deeper, truer level. It’s very interesting how the story that I’m trying to tell has been paralleled by the actual events of the making of the film.NY Times

The clip below occurs some time after she is raped as part of her healing process. It shows what a brilliant actor she is. Note the control as she builds confidence in the song.

And what of Fanning now? Going from strength to strength having shrugged off the critics – she continues to act, although not in major roles as she concentrates on her studies. She’s accepted a place at NYU. But then, she’s gifted.

But this is the thing about the warriors of the childhood culture wars. They are actually quite clueless, foolishly causing real abuse in attempting to chase imagined abuse. Perhaps the final word should go to Dakota.

It’s a movie, it’s called acting.