Blackfish Movie Inspires College Students To Confront SeaWorld

Blackfish Movie Drowning SeaWorld

Through the years, college campuses nationwide have birthed a variety of student-led protests. Currently, many individuals on and off college campuses are in an uproar over the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” which tells the tale of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that is responsible for the deaths of several individuals.

Blackfish movie and SeaWorld

However, it’s not Tilikum fans of the film are protesting – it’s SeaWorld. A combination of footage and interviews with various individuals, such as former employees of the sea park, cast SeaWorld in a negative light. Many students are seeing the popular attraction from a new perspective and want the world to know exactly how they’re feeling.

Based on the action “Blackfish” has inspired since its release last year, it appears that one film can sometimes make a difference. Kenneth Montville, the college campaign coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told USA Today College he has certainly noticed increased interest in PETA’s cause among students since the movie came out. Montville said that many of the students he works with have seen the film and are organizing campus protests.

Based on what Montville has seen and heard, students are finding different ways to protest SeaWorld. Some hold on-campus screenings of the film featuring guest speakers, while others don orca costumes.

Kevin Hallaeay-Glynn, a senior at Loyola Marymount University, is among the bachelor’s degree seekers who have changed their stance on SeaWorld since viewing “Blackfish.” The student no longer feels the need to attend the sea park’s “Bands, Brew & BBQ” event, which he has gone to several times in the past.

“I know a lot of people who are canceling their annual passes to SeaWorld now,” Hallaeay-Glynn told USA Today College. “Any conversation about SeaWorld I’ve had with my age group has been about the negative light they’ve been cast in.”

Students are not alone in their skepticism of SeaWorld following the release of “Blackfish,” as many celebrities have been quite vocal on social media about the sea park’s treatment of its stars. This past November, for example, music group Barenaked Ladies announced on their Facebook page they would not be playing a concert at SeaWorld.

“This is a complicated issue, and we don’t claim to understand all of it, but we don’t feel comfortable proceeding with the gig at this time,” read the band’s statement. Willie Nelson and Cheap Trick are among the other acts to pull out of SeaWorld performances, according to The Toronto Sun.

Blackfish and SeaWorld

SeaWorld officials have been quite vocal themselves in the face of this high level of backlash.

“‘Blackfish’ is a dishonest and manipulative movie,” Fred Jacobs, SeaWorld’s vice president of communications, told USA Today College. “It is far closer to animal rights propaganda than it is to true documentary filmmaking.”

Ultimately, it’s up to students to decide whether conditions need to change at SeaWorld, or “Blackfish” is more fiction than fact.


About Gary Chandler

Public affairs and sustainability consultant. Founder of Crossbow Communications. Follow him on Twitter @Gary_Chandler
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