43. SeaWorld

Like many other Americans, I am a fierce Netflix addict. At first I only appreciated them for being the straw that broke the back of Blockbuster, that shitty awful no good very bad establishment that never had Eurotrip when I really wanted it (which was a lot). As I’ve progressed through my young adult life, Netflix has proven to be my saving grace from complete and utter boredom during my downtime.

“Maybe I should go out and do something with my li-HOLY SHIT THEY HAVE THE ENTIRE HELLRAISER SERIES!” – Me, Five Months Ago

Also, House of Cards. That’s all.

One of the best features of Netflix is the fact that they possess a simply absurd amount of documentaries. I’m a strange person in the sense that I am more likely to watch a documentary than an “actual” movie. There’s just something about the real-life drama inherent in documentaries that you just can’t get from most feature films. Also, the pretty people in Hollywood movies make me feel self-conscious. For these reasons and others I’ve pretty much devoured most of the documentaries available on Netflix.

On a side note, go watch The Act of Killing. It’s not on Netflix but that doesn’t matter. Watch it right now. Or at least the trailer on Youtube. I’ll wait.

The latest thing on my watch list was Blackfish, a film about an orca at SeaWorld that has killed two of its trainers in the past. I had heard various things about Blackfish before seeing it, including that some music artists had cancelled performance dates at SeaWorld due to the content of Blackfish. This includes The Barenaked Ladies. And if the guys who wrote something as fucking torturous and earwormy as One Week are outraged, then surely I will be outraged as well.

I was not disappointed. For those of you who have no intention of seeing the film for yourselves because you’re a busy citizen goddamnit and you have things to do, I will offer a brief synopsis.

SeaWorld is run by a bunch of shifty and amoral bastards who have no problem throwing “trainers” who have no formal background in marine biology (or anything for that matter) in tanks with massive marine killing machines that have killed or maimed in the past. These massive marine killing machines are poached from the wild, separated from their families, and then thrown into a tiny-ass tank in mediocre living conditions for the rest of their lives. Also, SeaWorld has no issue obtaining massive marine killing machines that already have a record of attacking humans because in the event of the massive marine killing machines turning into massive marine killing machines, SeaWorld will just ascribe it to “trainer error” and then cover it up so the public wouldn’t think that maybe it’s a bad idea to keep MASSIVE MARINE KILLING MACHINES in a TINY FUCKING TANK for their ENTIRE GODDAMN LIFE.

Typically, I’m not the tree-hugger-save-the-animal-tye-dye-and-patchouli-for-everyone type, but something about Blackfish really got to me. There was a part in the documentary in which a marine biologist stated that orcas possess a deeper range of emotions than human beings do. Remember how much you cried when you watched The Notebook? A killer whale would have cried even more. In perfect tearjerking-documentary fashion, they interspersed this trivia with footage of orcas being kidnapped from the wild as their family looks on helplessly making sad whale noises.

Like this, but sad.

At several points in the documentary, they use transcripts from when SeaWorld was called into court after one of their trainers was eaten (yeah, you read that right) that essentially catch SeaWorld representatives telling outright lies under oath about their business, the trainers, and the orcas themselves.

Predictably, this has resulted in quite a bit of bad publicity for SeaWorld. I will admit that it is curious to see a company go through a scandal that doesn’t have its hands in finance, food, or the environment. They lack the resources that larger, more stereotypically evil companies like Monsanto and Exxon have to wage a disinformation campaign to fight the shitstorm. Case in point, SeaWorld was just outed today for stacking the deck in an online poll about Blackfish. Apparently someone got a little curious about half of the votes coming from the same IP address. If you’re gonna try and cheat, cheat smart.

On a side note, I went to SeaWorld when I was in 3rd grade. I got stung by a bee while I was there. Fuck SeaWorld.


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