Blackfish and the Black Arts of Propaganda


"...Blackfish” represents the worst of documentary filmmaking: poorly researched, presenting emotional conviction as truth and assembled for maximum impact over maximum illumination..." 
10 Worst Films of 2013. Jake Cole. Film.com


It is hard to be objective about such a partisan movie with it melodrama and noise.  Presenting skewed information without historical context involving former employers of Sea World with an axe to grind and the collusion of anti-captive bloggers such as David Kirby, writer of the infamous 'Death At Sea World'.

It is no surprise that both Dawn Brancheau's family (a trainer killed in a tragic accident at Sea World in February 2010) and the marine parks wanted nothing to do with either Kirby's above cited book or the 'Blackfish' film. They knew this was a ruse by members and supporters of the animal-rights industry (such as PeTA) to attack them and realised that both fairness and objectivity would play no part.

Most of the information presented in the film has been in the public domain for many years and the various incidence and 'facts' have been the substance of spin and propaganda from the animal-rights movement.  Having seen the film, I could write reams on what was wrong with it but I think a good starting point is the below linked pdf document that dissects the film minute by minute and points out (with references) the errors and misreporting in the film:

BLACKFISH ANALYSIS: Misleading and/or Inaccurate Content

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the film is its covert 'mission creep' which moves its subject material from the care of killer whales in captivity to the keeping of all cetaceans in general such as bottle nose dolphins; a species that have successfully thrived in captivity for decades. 

Moreover, the film has been gleefully grabbed by animal-rights supporters to widen their agenda against the keeping of animals such as elephants and other species and generalising this to attacking all zoos and aquaria be they good or bad. 

As regards the zoo world, I find it ironic that I wrote an article on this matter in 1994, which was published in the Association of British Wild Animal Keepers journal Ratel.  At the time, many zoo people scoffed at the premise I was trying to alert them to. Sadly, today it is becoming true. 

However, the film seems now to become as much a curse as a blessing for the animal-rights groups and factions with many and various people coming forward - including a number of trainers who appeared in the film - to state their disquiet at the films message and how their comments had been twisted.  That fact that the film's director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, allegedly advised one disgruntled former trainer to: "wait until after the awards season" to make any public statement speaks volumes for the true intent of the film maker.