Blackfish: Where Sea World Went Wrong


I’m an environmentalist, and therefore I’m a Blackfish fan. Actually, to be honest, I never even watched Blackfish. I had heard enough, and didn’t really feel like making myself angry over a cause that already makes me angry enough. In rebuttal to the movie that hit TV screens everywhere, Sea World reacted with The Truth About Blackfish. Upon reading it, of course I scoffed in the computer screens face and closed the tab on Sea World and their attempt to save their credibility. Honestly, orca’s belong in Sea World as much as children belong in high security prison.

I’m aware this post doesn’t seem mass communications related, but what is blogging if I can’t advocate for what I believe in first? 

So now my societal communication point: Blackfish vs. Sea World is a prime example of the desire to be viral and the necessity to be more prevalent and more relevant in the media world. Blackfish hit home for many on TV and in theaters, and now Sea World is calling them out online. In the most non-biased statement possible, I think the media tactics used by Blackfish will win this battle.

What Blackfish did right was sum up in a 90 minute film the wrongs and cruelty of orca captivity. It played on viewer’s heartstrings, documenting beautiful footage of rare creatures in an open ocean, complete with the correct background music, and juxtaposed this with the chaotic, circus-environment of Sea World, complete in all it’s worst theme-park glory.

What Sea World did wrong was create a long, wordy, and lengthy list of why Blackfish is propaganda rather than a documentary. Hey, Sea World? The world is uninterested in the correct label for the documentary. Also, if they’re already on your website, which is where this list is posted, they are probably NOT the consumers you should be trying to reach. This seems like bizarre PR by Sea World, drawing even more attention to Blackfish.

Upon further research of the true success of Blackfish, Sea World’s profits did increase in the final quarter of 2013. So is bad publicity still good publicity? Not in this case. While Sea World’s profit did increase, this was the result of a ticket price increase while actually attendance decreased. Even bands cancelled on Sea World.

The jig is up, and the world of mass communication came down hard on Sea World. Even after Blackfish, videos of animals left out of water at Sea World parks circled the Internet. This is why I love the new world of mass communication. It sparks hope for the smallest advocate and you don’t need to be a professional reporter or journalist to make a ripple in society. You just need some good ideas, motivation, and access to technology. There will be a cyber world out there who is willing to support you, and if done right you can change society.


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