The Argumentative Piece on Orca's Captivity in Blackfish

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With the recent death of the last orca whale to be born in captivity and also the closing of SeaWorld’s orca program, it’s important to reflect on why these events are actually a good thing. The park decided to put a stop to their orca breeding program after facing much protest in light of the documentary, Blackfish. The film questioned the ethics of keeping the whales in captivity and was also quite possibly one of the biggest reasons as to why the parks have decided to permanently halt the breeding program all together. Amongst deaths and countless accidents involving the whales and their trainers, the film focuses on how the orcas are treated and kept as well as their behaviors. The film also keeps focus on Dawn Brancheau, who was supposedly one of the parks most experienced and safest orca trainers. The director (Gabriela Cowperthwaite) also uses former trainers, OSHA directors as well as family and eyewitnesses to convey the point that orcas are not meant to be raised or bred in captivity.

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For years SeaWorld parks have used orca whales as their main attractions, however, most of the world actually knows very little about them. With this lack of knowledge the director and trainers are able to use it to their advantage. The trainers go into pretty significant detail on how easy it is to become an orca trainer within the parks. You could become a trainer of killer whales with very little knowledge on the animal itself. The film allows us to gather this early on so that we don’t blame the whales for their actions and behaviors, but rather blame the park for not properly training their staff. This is vital to the film so that way we sympathize with the whales through the entirety of the movie. We are shown very unsettling images and videos, and are even given testimony about how these whales came to be in captivity. We see nets and ropes being used to tie the orcas down as well as bloody water due to wounds that some whales received. The boats and cranes used to haul the orcas ashore are also brought into the film to better emphasize on how the whales are virtually stripped from their natural habitats and their family pods and put into tanks. The images and testimony allow us to connect with the film and begin to have an understanding of what is logically, as well as morally, right and wrong. It’s these firsthand accounts and knowledge of the whales that provide us the insight of how we should view the films argument, we obviously won’t be happy seeing these images and hearing from the people who know most about what is happening. Personally I believe it’s the trainers that are the most important form of testimony, not only do we hear about their insight to the park, but we are also shown that these individuals had a bond with the orcas while they worked with them.

Another way the director allows us to tie our emotions into the film is through the music that subtly plays in the background while the interviewees and whales appear on screen. Most of the music throughout the entire film is orchestra based, allowing the audience to feel the emotions that flow through the melodies of the music. During the interviews there is almost a mid tone kind of feel to it, as the trainers describe their experiences with the whales. Yet when we see the whales in their natural habitat and are hearing about how intelligent they truly are the music changes to a very upbeat style of orchestra. However, when we are introduced to Tilikum, the main whale spoken about through the film, the music actually takes an eerie twist, as if it were describing something almost evil. Music always sets the tone for any movie and the director fits in this orchestra style well, it allows us to since the severity of a scene as well as the emotions they want us to feel while allowing us to be able to still comprehend the message being given.

One last aspect of the film is how SeaWorld keeps the public, as well as their own staff, in the dark and hold secrets from us all. This is even more relevant to how the director wants us to feel towards the park, if we stay angry with the park through the film, we may be more obligated to agree with the argument of the film and the former trainers. The director provides us with news clippings, old news interviews, and 911 calls as well as audio recordings of a detective interviewing an eyewitness. Though these are just as important to convey the message, it’s the directors portraying of the courtroom hearings of ‘OSHA v. SeaWorld’ which truly shows the side of secrecy of the parks. Perhaps there just wasn’t any courtroom video, but also there were no courtroom drawings shown, instead the director uses her own animations through the film. This goes hand in hand with how the park is being secretive, it’s almost as if she is trying to mimic how the parks are keeping something from us, as if they had somehow hid the courtroom drawings too.

Our director does a phenomenal job at conveying her thoughts and feelings of how orcas belong in their natural habitat, without saying anything herself. The film is well put together and was very powerful in its message, so powerful in fact; that not only did much of the world notice, young children and teens began to protest the park and even started a petition to stop keeping orca whales in captivity. More so, and even most important to her message, the parks have since put an end to the breeding program and have looked into becoming more of a sanctuary for marine wildlife rather than just using them for our entertainment.

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