BLACKFISH has a name, it’s TILIKUM

Yes, Orcas aren’t fish. “Blackfish” is the English translation of a word Pacific Northwest indigenous peoples gave to killer whales, holding them in respectful regard while keeping a traditional safe distance. BLACKFISH is also the title of a new docummentary about how the sea mammals are mistreated by Sea World Marineland circus zoos and about instances of animal rebellion, instigated more often than not it turns out by one captive male named TILIKUM whose record of fragging trainers has been obscured by an entertainment system desperate to sanitize the plush-toy image of its “Shamu” brand. Documentary director Gabriela Cowperthwaite accuses Sea World of carelessly humanizing the ocean’s top predator, albeit whose social evolution appears to have exceeded that of humans. When it becomes apparent to audiences that Tilikum is actually the title character of Cowperthwaite’s expose, isn’t it unfair to refer to him in the generic? Yes “Blackfish” is a catchy title, but outside its Native American context the term is sinister and sub-mammalian. Let’s not vilify actions with which audiences find sympathy. Tilikum murdered his trainers wilfully and with premeditation. If we excuse him of murder it should not be because that’s his animal nature but because we understand his reason.

Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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