Blackfish – Documentary Review
About two weeks ago SeaWorld announced that they are going to end their theatrical killer whale experience. Their next step is to create a more natural environment for their much-beloved sea panda’s. This became a huge news story in America. To learn more about why this was such a big thing I decided to watch the documentary Blackfish.
Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a whale of the killer variety. In his 33 years he has been involved in the deaths of three people – two orca trainers and a man that broke into Orlando’s SeaWorld for a refreshing swim.
A huge chunk of the story is told by interviews with former SeaWorld trainers. They share how it was to be working with Tilikum, or Tilly, and how it was to work at SeaWorld. Emotions run high and their stories are all very compelling. They really sucked me in.
But there is a big problem with Blackfish. See, documentaries are created to tell the story the director wants to tell. It is a very manipulative method of propaganda. They are designed to impersonate fact and illicit emotion, it is therefore important to not take everything as fact. Several people interviewed, for instance, stated that their interviews have been severely edited to convey a different message. Furthermore, there is also a lot of focus on the death of Dawn Brancheau – they use the tragedy of her passing to create an emotional bond and strengthen their point of view. Problem is, both her family and the foundation named after her disassociate themselves from the documentary stating that they do not agree with the documentary’s portrayal of Dawn. This seriously hurt its credibility.
These inconsistencies have, however, not affected the documentary’s success. Large groups of people have started protesting against SeaWorld’s treatment of their killer whales after its release, which has now resulted in the cancellation of the orca show.
I absolutely detest emotional manipulation in documentaries, but I am glad that it has brought a positive change to the orca’s living conditions. However it is not enough. Like many people I do enjoy visiting parks, zoos, and other places that display rare and uncommon creatures. They fascinate me. But when a large mammal like an orca, that is used to swim over 100 km a day, is put into a small cage or basin, it just does not feel right. Animal captivity, in my opinion, is only excusable if acceptable living conditions can be provided – which in this case is clearly not true. If it were up to me I would Free Willy every last one of them.
At first glance Blackfish looks respectable and informative, but it quickly falls apart after even the smallest amount of background research. It is an interesting subject and some of the shots of killer whales border being magical, but due to the manipulation and misinformation I will definitely not recommend watching this documentary.
No, don’t watch it.
Hi guys, I hope you enjoyed reading this review. If you have any comments or suggestions on what I should watch next let me know in the comment section below.