Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Monday, December 23, 2013

WHICH IS MORE UPSETTING - WHEN ANIMALS ARE ABUSED OR PEOPLE? (WARNING: SUBJECT MATTER AND PICTURES ARE GRAPHIC AND MAY DISTURB SOME PEOPLE)

Blackfish (2013)

Recognizing that a lot of my readers are from other Countries, if you haven't read about this particular story, in Orlando, Florida is SeaWorld, a very popular tourist attractio
n, featuring Orca killer whales. Now lately I'd been seeing news stories about one musical artist after another cancel their concert dates at this facility due to the documentary called Blackfish by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. 

One can roll one's eyes and figure 'oh brother, another bandwagon everybody hops on because either it's popular or they'll be seen negatively if they don't agree'. But agree with what? What are the allegations raised by Blackfish that are enraging people all over the country?

Before I get into the documentary (which is currently streaming on Netflix as well as being available on DVD) let's talk for a mo
ment about wild animals. We have had constant reminders that wild animals, no matter how long you've been around them, raised them, keep them in your home - whatever - are STILL wild. They are NOT domesticated, no matter how sweet it looks to see, say a beautiful tiger give its owner a cuddle.

Here's a co
uple of examples, one very close to where I live:

November 11, 2013 in Portland, Oregon: A longtime employee of a suburban Portland animal sanctuary died of multiple bite wounds, according to autopsy results released Monday. She died Saturday night inside a cougar enclosure at WildCat Haven in Sherwood, where she worked as head keeper for the past eight years. Though there were two cougars in the enclosure, it appeared that only one attacked her.

Was she antagonizing or mistreating the animals? No. Did they try to blame her? Yes. The 'conclusion' is that she should never have been alone inside the enclosure. But her mother t
ells of her daughter's fears long before her death. "There was no one there to help her. There was no one at that sanctuary. They left her completely alone," she said. The deceased woman was the only staff person listed on the sanctuary's website. WildCat Haven is a nonprofit that rescues wild animals such as cougars, bobcats, tigers and other wild cats. Cougars are native to the American West. The sanctuary is 17 miles south of Portland, in a secluded, wooded area.

October 2011 in Zanesville, Ohio: Terry Thompson 62, released more than 50 exotic animals from his property and then committed suicide. Police said they had no choice but to kill dozens of escaped tigers, lions and other beasts. Just six animals - three leopards, a grizzly bear and two monkeys - were captured alive. When his body was found, there were bite marks on his head, presumably by one of the large cats. Why? It's been speculated that he could no longer afford to take care of the animals. So instead of giving them to sanctuaries or zoos, the idiot released them and subsequently doomed them as the authorities had no experience, equipment or ability to capture the animals alive.

October 3, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada: A 7 year old white tiger attacked Roy Horn of Sigfried and Roy, nearly ending his life. The two had raised and lived with large cats for over 30 years. We're talking living, eating, sleeping, with many large cats on their large ranch. The tiger took Horn by the neck and even today he still has some troubles with his health - but do they still live with large cats? Yes. "Every living thing goes crazy. Every species," he said. "And there's nothing -- no fingers to point. There's nothing. It's just a really bad thing happening to a really important, wonderful, very, very strong guy. I mean his strength is breathtaking." Update: They kept the cat until its' death in 2014 from health problems.

February 2010 in SeaWorld, Orlando, Florida: Animal trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by an Orca whale named Tilicum. The whale had been involved in previous violent incidents. Did they try to blame her? Yes. Was it her fault? Hell no. And thus, we get into the movie Blackfish:

When Dawn was killed, a not-so-well kept secret was pushed into the world's eye. But had YOU heard of it? I hadn't either. Should we have? Absolutely. Now when I was young I remember (not fondly) of the month I spent in San Francisco. There are several animal zoos and habitats there - some awful, some pretty nice (it was long ago, that may have changed). 

But what I remember is when we saw the dolphins, seals and whales the trainers would say over and over that the animals do NOT do 'tricks' they perform 'behaviors' - things they ordinarily would do anyway, but now do on cue. Even back then, knowing absolutely nothing I thought that was a total crock. There's no reason for a dolphin or whale to jump through a hoop in the wild so how could it be a natural 'behavior'? It was total crap. The tank was so small I just felt awful. But I stayed. And clapped when it was over. And knew absolutely nothing about the cruelty involved in the pursuit of my money and amusement.



Let's start with how they get Orcas. They used to capture them not far from where I live, off the Washington coastline. The 'fishermen' would separate the younger ones from the larger, and capture them to transport them to Florida. Speaking with one older man (who could not talk about it without tears) no one told them that with Orcas, the young stay with the mother for life - when they have a family, all travel together. The mother is NEVER separated from her young. The screams they heard as they took the young ones was horrible. It is not an easy thing to hear about.



When they arrive in Florida, they go in the tanks. The tanks are not nearly large enough, plus the males are put in with the females. In the wild, the males give the females a wide berth whenever they need it. In the tanks, there's nowhere for the males to go. In the case of the main male whale discussed in this movie, named Tilikum (the one who killed Dawn Brancheau), he was mauled and picked on constantly. His side had large rake marks and in one video taken by a viewer when he comes out of the water onto the platform at one point, you can clearly see a long, ragged tear in his side which is bleeding profusely. His dorsal fin has collapsed. The trainers were told to say that this happens a lot in the wild. That's an outright lie - it rarely happens. This is now his regular life. 

Oh, and the 'behaviors' they learn? Those are learned through the 'reward and punish' system. If they do something well, they eat. If not, they go hungry. Nice. If the 'trainer' is really displeased with a whale, they can be cooped up in what amounts to a small pen for hours with no food.

Are the trainers to blame then for the actions of the animals? Yes and no. In the case of Dawn Brancheau, she was a woman who knew well how to train animals properly. That means without being mean. In fact, she was known to be the most knowledgeable as well as the most cautious trainer. She had a 'relationship' with Tilikum - and spent countless hours with him. She treated her 'friends' well. Others reportedly had very little or no training - even those expected to perform 'stunts' with the animals. Whose fault was that?

According to SeaWorld, not theirs. They weren't responsible for the pages and pages of trainer injuries and several deaths of trainers, and they weren't responsible for any animals dying while in their care. In fact, to hear them speak of it, Dawn was a careless employee who 'slipped' and thus caused her own death. Nice.

As I mentioned, the documentary focuses on the captivity of Tilikum, a killer whale who was involved in the deaths of three individuals, and the consequences of keeping such large and intelligent animals in captivity. The coverage of Tilikum begins with his capture in 1983 off the coast of Iceland, showing how he was harassed by fellow captive whales and left in dark tanks for hours and yet despite his involvement in injuries and deaths of people, his sperm was still used to breed a hell of a lot of the killer whales currently in captivity today.

This movie is more horrible than a dozen of the bloodiest horror films but if you can stomach it, watch it please because this was not what I thought - people complaining of cruelty to animals just because they're in captivity. This is cruelty to both animals AND humans and both are dying. What kind of entertainment is worth that?