Blackfish

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This is yet another of my reviews that I’ve had to repeatedly re-post on Netflix.  There seems to be an all out war going on with this film and those in the ‘down with Seaworld’ camp are willing to use unfair tactics to make sure the opposition’s voice is not heard.  I felt so strongly about the issue I actually wrote two reviews, the second of which I will include here as well.  I’d love to get some feedback from readers on this issue and I’d be happy to discuss the issue at length, so please leave a comment whether you agree with me, disagree or simply wasn’t moved one way or the other.  Right, on to my first review.

This “documentary” has a serious axe to grind against Sea World and only relates information that bolsters its own biased ideology. Massively slanted, this tells the story of a single orca, which is hardly a fair look at the issue of killer whales in captivity. Anyone who has ever been to one of Sea World’s parks says the experience was a positive one that inspired and brought new awareness about marine life. Even the few disgruntled former employees showcased say the same thing, that seeing such magnificent creatures up close and personal changed them. I do agree that with the information we have now, it is wrong to take Orcas out of the wild, but it’s important to note that when marine parks were first acquiring killer whales in the 70s, little was known about their social bonds. Yes, mistakes were made but hindsight is always 20/20.

This documentary focuses solely on Tilikum and yet glosses over the fact that he may have been screwed up psychologically by a park in Canada, not Sea World. It pushes all the right buttons guaranteed to fill the viewer with righteous indignation, but notice there is only one token voice of opposition and he is made to look foolish by means of creative editing. The orcas at Sea World are ambassadors for their brethren in the wild, constantly adding to our understanding of the species. The organization is dedicated to caring for all marine life, supports conservation and scientific education and advancement, rather than being the callous greedy corporation portrayed in Blackfish. Also, state governments mandate the returning of Seaworld’s animals into the wild.  This means that if the government deems an animal fit to survive in the wild, Seaworld is required by law to do so.

On the flip side, if the government says releasing an animal would be tantamount to a death sentence, Seaworld must keep the animal, even if they disagree with the state’s ruling.  So for those clamoring to release the orcas right this second, your anger should be directed at the government, not Seaworld.  This is a hyper-emotional piece of slanderous propaganda and should be taken with a gigantic grain of salt, if at all. It’s obvious from the generally self-righteous reactions to Blackfish online that some have regrettably swallowed the pablum being served by this film and now feel qualified to sit in judgement of Sea World. Movies with agendas this obvious should come with warning labels for the gullible. – BETHANY

Here’s my second review:

First of all, I am in no way affiliated with Seaworld and my opinions are solely my own. I say this right up front, because many people on Netflix accused me of having been paid by Seaworld to write a review supporting them, calling my review a “plant”.  This film is a blatant hatchet job aimed at Seaworld, taking advantage of a tragic event to further its own ideology. Of course, with the information we have now (courtesy of places like Seaworld),  it is now quite illegal to take orcas out of the wild, unless it is injured or in need of assistance, in which case Seaworld moves the afflicted creature to one of their parks to receive veterinary care and rehabilitation, with the hope it can eventually be released back into the wild.  If the government deems any animal in Seaworld’s care to be able to survive in the wild, Seaworld is required by law to release them, so to those clamoring to ‘free the whales’, doing so would be a death sentence. And if you want to protest and boycott something, target the people actually in control.

Orcas are highly intelligent and social creatures but are capable of forming bonds with humans as well as their own kind. I grew up in Florida and our family had season passes to Seaworld. My father was an ER doctor working in an Orlando hospital and looked after many Seaworld trainers who’d been injured on the job. They’d have a scrape on the leg that needed stitches after the whale had accidentally bumped them into the side of the pool, or some other incidental wound that required treatment but was in no way serious. They knew the risks that came with the territory, but loved what they did so much that to them, the element of danger was negligible. Bear in mind that the “shocking” statistics in this film, of 70+ attacks on humans by killer whales in captivity, includes all those accidental injuries. If the whale jumped slightly off and brushed against the trainer on the way down, that counts as an “attack”.

There has NEVER been a documented instance of Orcas deliberately attacking humans in the wild and only four fatalities with captive killer whales, three of which involved Tilikum. He’s the exception to the rule and it is scientifically unsound to use one lone example to try and prove a point. Orcas have emotions and personalities much like people and are quite capable of lashing out in anger or frustration and because they are so powerful the end result might be more than what was intended. Since this entire film seems designed to make people want all the Orcas released into the wild, I found it rather telling that nowhere in the film does it mention Seaworld itself doesn’t have that power, but rather state governments control whether to release an animal into the wild or keep it in captivity on a case by case basis.  Seaworld does an excellent job of learning from its mistakes, so don’t judge them too harshly.

The Internet Movie Database page on this movie

Here are three excellent sites addressing the most common misconceptions regarding Blackfish:

Awesome Ocean

My San Antonio:  Trainers dispute Blackfish

Skeptoid – Blackfish – Documentary or Propaganda?

The trainers at Seaworld love the Orcas so much!

Seeing this magnificent creatures up close is life changing.

 

 

Photos courtesy of CNN Films, Manny O. Productions and Magnolia Pictures (unless otherwise credited in clickable form)

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