By Don Simpson | March 4, 2013
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
It has been over 30 years since my last visit to SeaWorld. Even as a young kid, I sensed that something was not right about holding killer whales captive in swimming pools; but beyond the pools seeming too small and unnatural for the enormous mammals, I had no idea what else was going on behind the curtain…
Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish does not approach the inhumane captivity of orcas, however, from the perspective of an animal rights activist. She is not necessarily looking to “Free Willy!” – or, rather, “Free Tilikum!” Instead, Cowperthwaite seeks to prove that SeaWorld has been grossly negligent as an employer and therefore should be held responsible for the many injuries of their trainers by killer whales.
By documenting the whales’ stressful living environments and their recorded histories of abuse, Blackfish provides undeniable evidence that SeaWorld knowingly (and repeatedly) risked the health and safety of their trainers and then had the audacity to blame the trainers if they were injured or killed by the whales. Yes, that’s right. SeaWorld has repeatedly blamed the victims in order to save their own multi-billion dollar blubber.
We all know that SeaWorld could not survive without trainers working in close proximity to these large and impressive sea mammals; without all of the jumping, waving and splashing, SeaWorld would be just another boring zoo. The frightening thing is that SeaWorld continues to place their trainers in harm’s way in order for the show to go on. Let’s hope that Blackfish builds up enough momentum to change that.