SeaWorld does not want you to see BLACKFISH. This documentary tells the story of Tilikum, an aggressive orca that killed three people while in captivity. SeaWorld has always defended it’s treatment of the whales and even publicized their life expectancy to be longer in captivity then in the wild. Which, according to BLACKFISH, is untrue. SeaWorld earns around $400 million a year and they do spend money on rehabilitation and care for these animals, but not enough. In BLACKFISH we learn how socially complex orca whales are, much more so than humans. They need this social interaction to survive. There is scientific proof that whales stay with their families for life. They can’t just be thrown in with other orcas and be expected to get along. In the movie we see many being aggressive towards each other because they are being forced away from their “families”. We see how these whales are captured as babies and separated from their mothers. SeaWorld will separate the mother and baby when they believe necessary. We see the mothers scream noises not heard before the separation.
Sure Shamu does amazing tricks and children enjoy watching them perform and splash water into the crowd, but at what cost. I have been to shows at SeaWorld and the trainers always are sure to say how much the whales love performing for us. And on the surface the whales do look like they are having fun. Is this because they have no other choice? Is this because food is held from them until they perform?
I have no interest in going SeaWorld after watching this film. SeaWorld has reported a 7% decline in revenue since BLACKFISH was released. There is no way to tell if it is the result of this movie or other outside factors.
SeaWorld can still exist and be used for research and to teach the public about orcas, but they need to invest money into giving these mammals a better quality of life. They can begin by not separating the babies from their mothers. They need to construct large cages in the ocean so that the whales can socialize and feel the natural patterns of the water that a pool cannot offer. This would require a significant investment from SeaWorld and as long as people continue to attend their parks, they don’t need to do anything.
BLACKFISH is probably too controversial to be in the running for Best Documentary in the Oscar race. I don’t think that the AMPAS wants involved in bringing down a major corporation like SeaWorld. Regardless of any Oscar chances, everyone should see BLACKFISH and decide if you want to go to SeaWorld ever again.
Pixar has changed the ending to the upcoming animated feature FINDING DORA due to the controversy around BLACKFISH. From Huffington Post:
An unlikely source is prompting Pixar to imbue a social consciousness into its highly anticipated “Finding Nemo” sequel. The studio will take cues from the documentary “Blackfish,” which shines an unfavorable light on SeaWorld’s treatment of orca whales, by changing the ending of “Finding Dory” to be more environmentally friendly.
A Pixar employee tells The New York Times that the fish and mammals that occupy a “marine park” in the movie will “have the option to leave” after being taken there. Realistic? Probably not at all. But it is reflective of the harsh reactions elicited by “Blackfish” and the heated PR response from SeaWorld.
“Blackfish” chronicles a killer whale that was responsible for the death of three individuals at SeaWorld. The movie, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, has raised questions about the ethics of keeping whales in captivity, and the “Finding Dory” adjustment is one of the most tangible results of its findings.
We don’t know anything else about the overall plot of “Finding Dory,” so consider this your first insight into the “Nemo” follow-up as well as a rare tidbit about the inner workings of Pixar’s creative process.
MY GRADE: A+