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'2012' spoiler-free: the dog lives!

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You’ll have my full review of the end-of-the-world disaster pic 2012 in a few days. But I just came home from watching the movie, and I need your help; I’ve witnessed cities crumble, I’ve seen the sea rise up to swallow continents, I’ve watched billions of people lose their lives, accompanied by loud music. Yet the pampered little lap dog carried by one of the score of characters we get to know survives, hooray!

Not that I had any doubts she would. Hell has to freeze over — or at least ancient Mayan predictions of global collapse have to come true — before a movie audience will accept the death of a fictional pet with the same nonchalance we accept the deaths of countless fictional humans. But why should pet death be more shocking or upsetting to moviegoers than people death on screen? I’m as humane and caring a dog-lover as the next girl who watches marathon broadcasts of The Dog Whisperer on Friday nights, yet it rubs my paws the wrong way that moviemakers exult in the many ways they can invent for people to perish, just so long as the pooch prevails. Those producers know that if an animal bit the dust, there’d be an outcry, and editorials, and boycotts, and dogfights among critics….

So here’s where I need your help: Please explain to me the magical superpowers of cinema canines.  And while you’re at it, please tell me whether my theory is right or wrong, that pet death is an audience turn-off, while people death is, you know, what movies are all about.