Blackfish is a searing indictment of SeaWorld and all that it stands for, and if this film gets the publicity and promotion that it deserves, it could strike a severe blow to the corporation that treats whales in wholly unnatural and inhumane ways with nothing but the profit motive in mind. The exploitative practices of this industry are downright barbaric- aren't human beings supposed to have progressed from this? The fact that we direct this treatment toward mammals with no human rights does not lessen the impact of the victims' suffering, who are highly evolved and intelligent living creatures.
Gabriela Cowperthwaite displays a fierce passion and advocacy for the rights of orcas to live in their natural habitat, and takes the time to document the brain and the emotional part of it that these animals possess, comparing them to dolphins in their intelligence and nearly human like in emotional capacity. Orcas develop familial relationships with other orcas in the wild, and children do not ever leave their mother's side after they're born. The whalers and the employees at SeaWorld practice various techniques and methods of ruling over these creatures that are antithetical to their natural way of life, even separating calves from their mothers in painful segments that will break your heart as you see them wail for hours, looking for their lost child.
Cowperthwaite draws testimony from former SeaWorld employees and whalers who explain what they did and the effects it had on the whales they were purportedly taking care of. They also testify to the outright lies they were directed to tell the public, covering up nearly a hundred incidents of whale aggression towards trainers over the last 20-30 years, expose the carelessness of SeaWorld regarding its employees' safety, and the unnatural process of breeding the whales themselves for artificial insemination. The focus of the documentary is one particular whale named Tilikum, who was abused as a calf by his trainer and treated badly by older whales, a process which served to shape him into an aggressive adult male, who had already attacked and killed one woman before being transferred to SeaWorld, who wanted the 12,000 pound whale for breeding purposes. SeaWorld never made the employees aware of Tilikum's history and continued to let him participate in training and shows which culminated in the death of another trainer, Dawn Beachum, in a highly publicized incident from 2010.
There is ample evidence presented in the film to suggest Cowperthwaite's thesis, that captivity makes naturally friendly orcas into frustrated, aggressive animals who are dangerous to humans, is right on the money. SeaWorld refused to be part of the documentary, and denies the mistreatment of the animals, along with covering up the records of violent incidents over the years, but this film is a provocative and morally outrageous accusation that raises serious questions about the rights of these whales and the ethics of the entire existence of these parks. As someone who's never been to SeaWorld, but always wanted to go as a child, I can say right now that I'd rather burn my money than set foot in the place after watching this film. Sprinkled throughout are the familiar commercials and promotional videos of SeaWorld selling itself as a happy place for children and families, where imprisoned and mistreated whales perform for human entertainment. In 2013, these ads read as ghoulish and it's time for the barbaric and devastating practices of these parks to end for good.
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