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Tillikum is a massive killer whale, who is owned by and lives in SeaWorld, the world famous tourist attraction. This animal is a natural predator, yet when lives were lost to this animal, director Gabriella Cowperthwatie blamed the people of SeaWorld for turning it into a killer and calling for the release of all orcas in captivity. This is this the premise of the film Blackfish. She claims that due to conditions that cause them to kill, SeaWorld should be boycotted and shut down. What is not taken into account however is that killer whales are just a minuscule percent of the captive animals used for entertainment in America and the world in general. She comes across as making a problem seem much larger than it is when viewed in the correct perspective. Blackfish not an objective documentary but rather a mere propaganda creation that manipulates viewers emotionally, and relies on biased filmmaking techniques to create “facts” that support anti captivity.
Gabriella Cowperthwaite is far from a household name. The reason for this being that she has directed few successful or influential films, besides Blackfish the most popular film she has produced is a story about lacrosse in the inner city. Even her most prized production, blackfish, she was nominated for few illustrious or weighty awards with the crowning achievement of the film being nominated for a BAFTA, an organization for which you would be hard pressed to find a large number of Americans who have even heard of. After her many years in the film industry she has struggled to make a name for herself and consistently make films that would have her be mentions in circles of elite directors, instead she has spent much of her career producing television series documentaries.
Killer whales have been kept in captivity since the early 1960’s. As with many things, in the beginning years the capture and containment of such animals was uneducated at best and barbaric at worst. The amount of and size of strides that have been made since these first captive whales came into America is astounding. The first whale to be kept in captivity for entertainment purposes was named Namu, who was captured in British Columbia and shipped to Seattle where it survived a mere 11 months. The captive whales at SeaWorld now live almost the full lifespan of wild orcas, over 30 years, showing the progress that has been made for the care of killer whales that no longer live in the wild. As not mentioned in the documentary SeaWorld has not captured orcas from the wild in over 35 years, and of the 160 cases of killer whales dying in captivity, only a small percentage of these have actually occurred in SeaWorld.
Blackfish loses its credibility in several crucial areas. First, blackfish uses untrue and emotionally manipulative sequences talking about the separation and gaining of killer whales. The director uses video that often times does not match the narrative. Different pieces of stock video is pieced together to give the impression of mothers being separated from their calves when in reality that is not what is happening. It is an attempt to emotionally stimulate the viewer’s negatively toward SeaWorld. Likewise when the film depicts whales being taken from the wild the footage is not even of an actual SeaWorld operation, this is something the casual viewer would never be aware of and is one of the many tactics Blackfish uses to falsely sway people to their point of view.
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