In a truly awesome announcement, we learned that Pixar reconnoitered with the Blackfish folks, including director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, to discuss revising its ending to the sequel to Finding Nemo, called Finding Dory.
Apparently, Pixar, having seen Blackfish, realized that captivity may not be all it has been, by the aquarium industry, cracked up to be, and reached out to Cowperthwaite. The original ending, in which the lost fish and marine mammals would spend the rest of their days in captivity, would be revised to allow the animals a “choice” as to whether they stayed at the aquarium or returned to the wild.
While Pixar and others may feel that this revision is a welcome one, I continue to live up to my “fly in the ointment” status and ask, “Wouldn’t this revision teach children that animals make a choice about their captivity status? When they see animals at aquariums and marine parks, having seen this new ending, might they not make this association?”
One of the things the public learned in Blackfish is that not all that they hear at SeaWorld is necessarily true. Life spans of orca longer in captivity? You’ll hear from SeaWorld that, yes, they are. But the reality is quite the opposite, as reported today in China Daily. Orcas live a demonstrably shorter life span in captivity. Another of the lessons that can be learned every day at SeaWorld, is that the animals only perform tricks (called “behaviors” by the Spin Tank of the aquarium industry) when they choose. In Blackfish, we watch former trainer Carol Ray struggle with the fact that, as a trainer, she regurgitated this “choice” spin to the public on a regular basis, just as the trainers were instructed.
So, Pixar. Choice? The animals “choose” to remain in captivity?
Animated films have educated children about animals since there has been animated film. And while anthropomorphizing is part and parcel of this process, such anthropomorphizing is not, in itself, a problem. In fact, it’s quite good and quite effective at delivering a message to children. But please, Pixar, don’t use this tool or teach our children, in a theatrical sleight of hand, that animals have some say in their residence at marine parks, or else be just like SeaWorld, teaching that dolphins perform tricks when they “choose”.
Blackfish, distributed by Magnolia Pictures, is playing across the United States right now. See it. Join the meaningful conversation about the end of marine mammal captivity and how we must not teach our children something about this issue that is just not true.
In fact, here is where you can teach your children about orcas, while they listen to them LIVE on hydrophones off the San Juan Islands. How awesome is that?!!
And while you listen to them live on the hydrophone network or plan a family vacation to the nearest shore to see wild dolphins (or even river, where there are river otters and beavers), sign a pledge by Save Japan Dolphins not to see them in captivity and contact Pixar.
- Pixar Animation Studios
- 1200 Park Avenue
- Emeryville, CA 94608
- Telephone: (510) 922-3000
- Facsimile: (510) 922-3151
Edited to add the following AWESOMENESS: Earlier today there was an amazing occurrence recorded on the hydrophone network when a SUPERPOD graced us with their magnificence. Selena Rhodes Scofield put together this excerpt and points to new vocalizations at 5:35 – 5:43. Get ready for audio wonderfulness, not to be heard at any aquarium anywhere.