Truth in Black and White

If you were born in the eighties or nineties you grew up around the reality of trained sea animals; seals, dolphins, and most importantly Orca whales. Orca’s, or more commonly known as killer whales, are gorgeously breathtaking creatures. So, naturally, showing these magnificent beasts off to the public is a good idea. Right? Well, according to the documentary Blackfish, it was wrong, so incredulously wrong. Never has a film been so in your face about the atrocities we have committed towards our neighbors in the animal kingdom. We took these children away from their mothers, their families; shipped them to unknown places; threw them in swimming pools, and left them there to live out the remainder of their days performing tricks as shadows of there former selves. From the beginning, the film holds nothing back, within a matter of minutes you are confronted with the fact that these captive whales are dangerous. It becomes clear that the deaths of SeaWorld trainers at the hands of captive killer whales is not due to the whale’s nature, but is due to the effect that captivity has on Orca’s. Blackfish makes clear the fact that Orca’s are extremely loving and family oriented creatures with the emotion centers of their brain being even more developed than that of a human’s brain. In addition, there has never been a single human death committed by an Orca in the wild.


Through every interview, every monologue, every clip; it is clear that what is being done to these animals is wrong, even the many trainers who spoke during this film admit to knowing that something about the situation didn’t seem right. The film is so powerful, captivating its audience from the get-go; contrasting the happy-go-lucky attitude of SeaWorld’s marketing team with the heart wrenching truth of every captive Orca’s reality. Some could say that Blackfish is biased; a film created by animal-loving, big company hating, activists. However, the truth of the matter is that this film is actually very accurate. There is no other way to tell this story without showing the facts, without saying “this is what the public was (is) being fed and this is what was (is) truly happening.”  The directors use clips from inside SeaWorld, first hand accounts, documents, and scientific evidence to prove their point. That point being, Orca whales should not be held in captivity, we should not imprison them in a four by four cells of water, make them perform tricks like a common house pet, and not expect some sort of repercussions in return. There is only one real problem with this film and it’s that it doesn’t quite give enough. Blackfish proves without a doubt that what is being done to these animals is wrong, but what happens from there? After watching this film, what are we as a public supposed to do about it? It is easy to watch a film like Blackfish and feel anger and outrage, but often those feelings leave you as you exit the theatre. They get buried under thoughts of; “yeah it sucks, but what am I supposed to do about it? How am I supposed to stop a multi billion-dollar company like SeaWorld?” Often our outrage gets overcast by a lack of readily available solutions, and this is really the only thing lacking from an otherwise powerful and provocative film.






Cowperthwaite, G. (Director). (2013). Blackfish [Motion picture]. United States: CNN Films.


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