December 15, 2013 1 Comment
Like many children, I once went to Sea World with my parents on a family vacation and I’m sure I was impressed by the whole spectacle and these interesting animals on display. Watching Blackfish, I’m rather glad I, unlike many of the former trainers interviewed, wasn’t so inspired that I decided to make training animals my vocation because what is captured here is harrowing. In many ways this is a real life King Kong. The big mammal may be dangerous, but the monster is humanity that pulls it from its natural domain and seeks to exploit it.
The issue of animals in captivity is a complex one. Whether it is zoos or aquariums, or even a household pet, none of it is natural. Is it reasonable to simply say it is wrong, or if not, where do we draw the line? For some animals, captivity is a main thing keeping them from extinction in an imperfect world that has ruined habitats (taking millions of other species down in the process). For others, maybe captivity really isn’t a negative. Your typical house cat is not really a pack animal in adulthood and life in the modern world is nasty, brutish and short relative to the comforts of a household, so maybe certain animals are apt to do well in a captive setting such that they can reasonably be kept for the purpose that zoos and the like play in education (in addition to nature videos for those that can’t).
However, with orcas, Blackfish makes clear both the detrimental harm of captivity and the strong family nature of them as an animal. So many films have been made about the horror of families torn apart and the scenes in Blackfish involving capture or separation of families is every bit as emotionally gripping. Documentaries may be cut to lie or deceive, but these emotions convey an inescapable truth. The unsettling footage (and so much of it, one wonders why the original sources document this stuff) is balanced against your series of interviews, all building to one clear conclusion, Sea World is inexcusable. Some may be bothered by that kind of clarity, but sometimes there really is only one moral side of an argument.