Blackfish Defeats SeaWorld — The Power of a Documentary that Wasn’t Even Oscar Nominated


It all started with one movie. The Blackfish documentary blew the lid off of SeaWorld’s treatment of Orcas, creatures we know have deep family bonds and high intelligence, yet have been taken from the wild and turned into entertainment for unworthy humans. Public pressure from high profile celebrities and hundreds of thousands of activists has forced SeaWorld to face up to what they’ve done in the name of high profit. They’ve been forced to end their breeding program and now have announced they will stop making these wondrous creatures “perform” for the masses. They will now show their whales in a “more natural” setting. It’s a hell of a start. They won’t be able to take whales from the wild, and they can’t breed them, so all they have remaining are these poor whales who will have to live out their miserable lives in semi-peace. If it were me I would turn SeaWorld into a sanctuary for abused whales worldwide and turn my company into one that helps free other Orcas from captivity around the world. No, they can’t just let them loose in the wild but they could find a way to help them rehab back into the wild. Hopefully they will.

Supposedly they’re ending the shows in 2017. They should be ended today. The whole thing should be shut down.

It all started with Blackfish, the most powerful documentary I’ve ever seen that had such a direct impact. The Academy could not be bothered to nominate the film (of course) but it remains a major success story for the power of cinema nonetheless.

  • Steven F

    Truly exciting outcome. Thanks for sharing!

  • John

    It IS a start! What good news. No more breeding!!!!!! Blackfish is a great doc and I’m so glad that it seems as if that doc had a good deal to do with this occuring.

  • g

    This is so awesome! It’s amazing what documentaries can do. The act of killing and the brilliant new look of silence are changing perspectives in Indonesia. Opening people’s minds to what happened there instead of everyone keeping silent among the killers.

  • M. Murtaza Murad

    This is awesome. Blackfish was Awesome. It was my winner for the Oscar that year.

  • Jamie Teller

    Thank God for the whales.

    The Academy’s documentary branch is kind of inept, though. No Life Itself (though CitizenFour was a worthy winner), giving 20 Feet to Stardom the Oscar over The Act of Killing, ignoring Hoop Dreams (seriously, did Steve James run over someone’s dog or something?), nominating the Maysles brothers exactly once (for a short, no less), completely ignoring Frederick Wiseman, neglecting Errol Morris outside of Fog of War (though at least there was a reason behind their not nominating The Thin Blue Line)…they’ve erred quite a bit.

  • CherryValance

    See. I told you it doesn’t matter if important movies win, just that they’re in the conversation so they get seen. Good job doing your part, Sasha. :)

  • Gregoria

    Very good news, although, the post is a bit inaccurate since these whales would not have the skills to survive in the wild after being kept in captivity, even if “rehabbed.” In fact I think we should remember some of these marine life exhibits, including the Sea Worlds themselves, do take in injured or meeker creatures that would not otherwise have survived in the wild, or even other captivity pools, given pod dynamics, and thus prolonging their life. This of course does not mask the horrible things we know thanks to the documentary illuminating them, but it is worth mentioning since I think people tend to forget the positive mission that once was lost.

  • JoeS

    I’m glad BLACKFISH has had impact, HOWEVER, it was not worthy of an Oscar nomination.

    The category is for Best Documentary Feature, not Most Important Topic for a Documentary. The filmmaking got the job done, but, was nothing extraordinary. The other nominees were superior, particularly THE SQUARE and ACT OF KILLING.

    Supporting a cause should not blind one to artistic merit.

  • Cameron Harvey

    Good for the whales, Blackfish still wasn’t an artistically notable doc though.

  • YCo

    I get the argument that to some – in an artistic sense – it wasn’t ‘Oscar-worthy’ ….
    But that it had an impact, an emotional impact – that’s what great documentaries do.
    A film, especially documentaries, can have all the artifice in the world but if it doesn’t move you, or provoke action, it’s just masturbating in an empty room isn’t it? That kind of artifice can be manipulative. Documentaries should be activist, humanistic, and fearless. Not just pretty to look at. Its about truth, and a call for action, or compassion or anger or whatever, not…’Wow, that was beautifully shot.’

  • JoeS

    Hey, I watch a lot more documentaries than the average moviegoer. BLACKFISH was simply unworthy of such an honor. Honorable intentions are not enough.

  • Claudiu Cristian Dobre

    I agree with JoeS that there were better documentaries that year, artistically speaking. But, of course, it’s awesome that this one actually made a positive impact…

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