Poor casting call perpetuates the Mongrel stereotype in Singapore

Mediacorp’s hunt for a Mongrel to portray a fierce stray in one of its productions has gotten Singaporean netizens all riled up. Read on to find out why.
By Latasha Seow
Published on Thursday, 04 May 2017

Photo credit: Exclusively Mongrels Limited on Facebook

 

On Monday, the 1st of May, local broadcasting company Mediacorp came under fire for requesting to borrow a Mongrel from Exclusively Mongrels, a local non-profit organisation. A crew member from the production sent Exclusively Mongrels a message on Facebook, asking if a dog could be loaned to them for a scene in a drama series, “When Duty Calls”. The series is a commissioning project by the Ministry of Defence, and the scene was to be filmed at Yio Chu Kang cemetery. The Mediacorp crew member explained that other dog breeds such as Golden Retrievers would be unsuitable for the scene, which is why they required a Mongrel for the scene.

 

According to screenshots of the Facebook message that was put up on Exclusively Mongrels’ Facebook page, the selected dog had to meet certain criteria such as being able to “bark fiercely” and “chase after ppl” (sic). Here in Singapore, the majority of stray dogs are Mongrels and this has steered the misconception that these mixed-breeds are aggressive and fierce. This stereotype has resulted in lower adoption rates among Mongrels at local shelters.

 

These requirements were met with backlash from the non-profit organisation, especially since, according to the organisation, it strives to reverse this very stereotype associated with the temperament of the misunderstood pooches. Exclusively Mongrels commented that they weren’t going to “let a scene that will likely last no more than 3 min negate the good efforts made by [the organisation and other animal welfare groups]”.

 

Many Facebook users took to the internet to support Exclusively Mongrels in their stand against Mediacorp’s request, as well as to express their hope that Mediacorp would adjust the scene appropriately to portray the mixed-breeds in a more flattering light. One of its supporters, Lisa Anne Taylor-Chong, praised the organisation’s response to the film crew’s request, deeming it “classy and direct”.

 

However, there were users who thought that the non-profit organisation was just overreacting. Facebook user Christopher Li left a comment that read: “If people are gullible and stupid enough to be influenced on their view of mongrels by a tv scene, then let them be lor”. His comment was rebutted by another user who reiterated the fact that “more than 900 dogs were put to sleep” in 2015 alone, and that the Mongrel stereotype didn’t need further reinforcement.

 

You can find out more about the incident on Exclusively Mongrels’ official Facebook page.