Seattle's Rising Dog Population Reveals What Children of Men Got Wrong

Comments

1

There's dogs, Charles.

There's border collies that work on the Fisher farm. Theo's dad has a mutt. The romani woman in red has a small terrier that she dotes on. The use of pets is commented on by the filmmakers as replacement children. Maybe, watch the film again.

2

Hmm. I saw fewer dogs than I would have expected over the past week or so, which is inconsistent with Charles' observations. Is it possible that anecdotal evidence might not be the best way to evaluate social trends?

3

I know it's a 12 year old film but... spoiler alert...

So, the ending would have been so much better if the baby had been accidentally shot or hit by fragmentation from all the fighting and killed. Basically a message of "the human race doesn't deserve to exist."

5

The big difference between the Seattle of 2018 and the 2027 of Children of Men is that the space we occupy now is largely childless-by-choice. We live in a city experiencing a small explosion in the number of young, urban, upper-middle-class people, many of whom are opting not to have kids, at least not right now (San Francisco has a similar phenomenon). Dogs, however, aren't as demanding as children. It's easy to have a dog when you're single, or when nobody is home all day, or when you live in a small apartment. In the event of something as cataclysmic as global infertility, especially 18 years into said cataclysm, I doubt many would be happily transferring their nurturing instincts onto pets. I'm sure some would, but more would rail against the God that took away the children they always wanted but now can never have and descend into despair. Moreover, economies were collapsing in Children of Men, not booming. I don't foresee a lot of bright-eyed yuppies buying designer dogs when jobs are becoming scarce and the world is crumbling around them.

6

Responsible dog owners are delightful people. Irresponsible dog owners, not so much. I wonder if there's a correlation between responsible dog owner and responsible parent or irresponsible dog owner and irresponsible parent.

7

I mean, really, if you're the type of dog owner who doesn't pick up their poop from a public area, will you be the type of parent who leaves dirty diapers lying around in public places?

8

If you want to see Seattleites of color at the park, you'll need to go to the areas where kids play sports.

9

@1 Good observation. @3 I disagree, the movie is about hope in the face of futility and despair. I lifted that from Wikipedia but also I remember the director discussing that as the main theme back when the movie first came out.

10

“My best guess is that the dogs are filling the growing absence of children. Dogs—and pets in general—are a tech city's children.”

Approximately twenty years ago, Patricia Thibadeau, state senator for the 43rd Legislative District (which then held Capitol Hill, Fremont, U-Dist., Downtown, and part of Belltown) noted that most of the questions she received from her constituents were about primary education. She had initially found this surprising, because, she said, “I think this district has more pets than children.”

Welcome to the ‘90s, Charles!

11

"One, it's whiter than I initially thought. (Either that or people of color have a weird aversion to the city's many marvelous parks.)" -- What time were you looking? People of color are on average far more economically marginalized than whites in the USA, and, are more likely to be working poor who don't have time to enjoy parks, vs. working white upper middle class who have more leisure time and may also be working tech "remote" jobs with ample flex time to enjoy parks, especially in day / early evening.

12

Charles, I don't know if you realize this, but even before Amazon dogs have outnumbered children in Seattle for at least a decade.

13

Another fantastic piece. Thanks Charles.

14

I think your impression of the prominence of pets in that movie is skewed by the types of characters it followed, though -- rebels and people living on the fringes of society. The ads and such in the background suggest exactly what you're describing, pets replacing kids for the kinds of people who could afford them. You can see it in this excellent promotional reel for the company that designed the media for the film. https://vimeo.com/37658689

15

according to the US Census blabidiblah, there's a proportional smidge more households with under 18's than 10 years ago, proportional smidge more under 18's, and a proportional smidge and a half more under 6's.

So did you look inside the dogs? I'll bet that where the children are hiding.

16

I used to do a lot of volunteer shelter work, including matching potential adopters with dogs. The most challenging people to work with were those with kids, owing to the fact that 'family friendly' dogs were rare in the shelter. Such dogs were usually adopted within days if not hours. Appears to me supply can't keep up with demand, and kids + dogs is still a common combination that people strive for.

Is it possible that the people with dogs Charles refers to in his piece are singles that just haven't met the right person to start a family with? That the dog isn't so much a replacement but a place holder? Finally, many people with kids have many years left to enjoy dog ownership once the kids mature and are on their own. That is hardly replacing children with dogs.

17

Ah yes, these are the deep and considered thoughts of a creature breeding at or above replacement level, into a population explosion that has initiated an ecological crisis so enormous that it will one day be readily apparent to geologists.

But it can not be this particular creature's fault. It must not.

...also, maybe if modern parents would let their kids go outdoors by themselves, you'd see more of them while scouting your location shooting.

18

I've been disappointed in Charles Mudede lately. Just too much pandering. But this post--this is a great post.

I don't think I've ever been affected by a movie the way I was by "Children of Men." It's one of the great, powerful, moving movies. And yet, it's difficult to watch. I wouldn't recommend it to everybody. Heck, I wouldn't recommend it to most people. And I'd only ever watch it again if I had company and I was in a great place in my life.

OK, with that out of the way, Charles is right that the absence of a companion-animals phenomenon is a flaw in the film and, I can only imagine, in the novel it was based on. Such is the challenge with speculative fiction. Someone else can come along and imagine the sci-fi equivalent of an anachronism.

I give credit to Charles for seeing the "pets in lieu of kids" reality of Seattle and making the connection to "Children of Men." As much as it's not a "breeders" city, Seattle is almost a caricature of a pet-loving city. As I tell my mom back East, "You should love Seattle. It's all about pets and pot." I could go on, but I don't feel comfortable in this forum.

19

Here I was agreeing with Charles's interpretation of "Children of Men," and then I go and read the rest of the comments, and now I almost want to take back what I said, and to give credit to @1 and @14 for pushing back on Charles's point about the film. Clearly, my recollection is not as vivid as yours.

20

@18-@19: Always read the comments, especially here at Slog, where comments exist primarily to correct the many large errors in the headline post. (This advice goes double for Mudede’s posts, of course.)

That said, I too was disappointed. I had hoped to learn the particulars of when that hot new local band, Rising Dog Population, would play their “Save The Showbox” benefit.

21

Or perhaps your casual observation at a Seattle park one day revealed the truth behind 2017's dystopian chiller Boss Baby in which there's a massive corporate conspiracy persuade people to prefer puppies over babies!

22

Considering that you have to show far greater qualifications to adopt a puppy than to have a child, this may say good things about the population of Seattle.