Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish is a film that’ll stick with you. The documentary will leave you with a heavy sense of sadness and anger, all directed at the truly villainous actions by SeaWorld, who seemingly ignored the risks faced by their employees and the animals living in their parks. This led to the death of one of their most treasured performers and has also created a miserable, inhumane life for one of their star killer whales, Tilikum. There is a shot towards the end of the film that features a depressed Tilikum in his lonely pool that just cut me to the core. This is wrong, what SeaWorld is doing is wrong.
But the line of amusement parks keeps on trucking. Families continue to pour into the parks, contributing millions every year. While the end of SeaWorld isn’t in the near future, Blackfish isn’t going away and it’s keeping the amusement park in the headlines while continuing to harm their public image.
The latest part of this saga involves popular musical acts who are deciding to cancel performances at SeaWorld specifically because of Blackfish. Heart, Willie Neslon and Barenaked Ladies have all decided to cancel their SeaWorld appearances while Joan Jett has requested that the park stop using her “I Love Rock N’ Roll” at their shows.
It’s not just that these acts are declining to perform at SeaWorld, it’s that they are coming out and making publics statements about why:
Heart has chosen to decline their forthcoming performance at SeaWorld on 2/9/14 due to the controversial documentary film ‘Black Fish’.
— Heart (@officialheart) December 8, 2013
Here’s Joan Jett’s sternly-worded note to SeaWorld: “I’m among the millions who saw Blackfish and am sickened that my music was blasted without my permission at sound-sensitive marine mammals.”
Obviously SeaWorld losing Barenaked Ladies and Willie Nelson won’t cause them to go bankrupt or stop harming animals but it keeps the company in the news for all the wrong reasons and that’s incredibly important. The more musical acts cancel their associations with SeaWorld, the more people will notice and the more pressure will be put on the company to change their dangerous and truly disgusting methods.
This is a case of a film doing good, furthering a cause and speaking out. Hopefully Blackfish scores a few award nominations in the coming months and the uproar only continues to grow. This is a film that called for change and, hopefully, it creates some.
Read more about the cancellations and SeaWorld’s response over at Stereogum.