Hey, do you remember that time when News Corp columnist Miranda Devine committed to print a complaint that the horse in the animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron did not have a visible penis?

Admittedly, it’s more than likely that you don’t. That is fine. More than fine, even. Odds are you are a more sane person than I, and you don’t waste your time obsessing about 17-year-old columns from a professional bad opinion–haver who has since made themselves more famous for being just generally one of the worst people alive. But, for better or worse, this column has never been too far from my thoughts.

Published in the Sydney Morning Herald back in the distant past of 2002, Devine cobbled together a joint review comparing and contrasting the films Bend It Like Beckham and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron. Bend It Like Beckham is a 2002 film about a young girl in England who is quite good at soccer and wishes very much to pursue it in spite of the people trying to stop her. Spirit is a 2002 film about a cartoon horse.

In the review, Devine cast Spirit as a dire indication of a great self-loathing that is consuming the once-great Western Civilisation (“Spirit comes from the dark heart of Hollywood, politically correct, history-crushing, empty.”), in contrast to Bend It Like Beckham, which does features bad things like sexism and racism but, crucially for Devine, isn’t a big downer about it.

This sort of culture war garbage is the bread and butter of the articles that pay for what I assume is Devine’s luxuriously appointed home torture chamber, and should have passed out of my mind instantly upon reading it. It would have, too, if not for one tiny parenthetical:

It is the story of a wild stallion (minus visible genitalia, for some reason) who is captured by sadistic white soldiers somewhere in America’s wild West, in about the 1880s.

Zoom, enhance:

(minus visible genitalia, for some reason)

Zoom 200%, enhance:

for some reason

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few reasons why Spirit, the titular horse, didn’t have a cartoon dong. Maybe it was a technical consideration — the additional man-hours required to animate the physics of a horse wiener would have put the film over budget, perhaps. Maybe it was a stylistic choice — cartoons are only a symbolic representation of real life, they do not necessarily have to be a one-to-one reflection of the real-life thing to convey what they are to viewers.

I’m no expert, but I suspect the real reason might be this: Kids don’t want to stare at a horse dick for 90 minutes. Who can say.