Blackfish is a 2013 documentary that focuses on Tilikum, an orca held by SeaWorld and the controversy over captive killer whales. The film is really well made and had a profound impact on the way that I personally thought about animals in captivity.
“Blackfish” has become a rallying point for those who oppose the use of killer whales for entertainment in the SeaWorld parks, and it has drawn large audiences in theaters and on TV. But SeaWorld has defended its practices, mounting an aggressive pushback against the film. – SeaWorld Questions Ethics of ‘Blackfish’ Investigator By Michael Cieply
The Documentary details 3 incidents that have occurred due to the consequences involved with keeping killer whales in captivity that previously I was unaware of. The film uses interviews from former Seaworld employees and scientific experts to tell the stories of these incidents and try to explain why and how they occurred. The film really attacks Seaworld and its practices involving keeping animals in captivity. The film makers have been criticised by Seaworld for claiming that Blackfish is “inaccurate and misleading and, regrettably, exploits a tragedy” and that it “withholds key facts about SeaWorld”.
The film has also been criticised for over sensationalising the subject matter. Something that I believe is a problem with a lot of modern documentaries. The problem isn’t with the documentaries but with the way the public perceives them. People seem to forget that the majority of documentaries are basically propaganda pieces for a certain cause. They are made by a filmmaker to show something that they think is important and that they think should be exposed to a larger audience. They are made with a purpose. While films such as Blackfish and The Cove use this structure to help shine a light on animal rights violations (which personally I agree with the agendas pushed by both of these films) people need to be more aware of the documentary process and remember that this is only one side of the story.
Tilikum’s plight – enduring violence from other captive whales and forced to entertain crowds in return for fish ever since he was captured in the wild in 1983 – is vividly depicted by former trainers. The film’s conclusion is inescapable: we have no business keeping such large, intelligent mammals in such crippling confinement. We too might get a little psychotic, it suggests, if we were imprisoned in a bath for 30 years. – Blackfish, SeaWorld and the backlash against killer whale theme park shows by Patrick Barkham
Since the release of the film Seaworld has had a $15.9 million loss in profits and as of November 2014, the company’s stock was down 50% from the previous year. The documentary has affected Seaworld’s profit margins and damaged public perception of the company beyond repair. This truly shows that the impact of an expose documentary should never be underestimated.