Blackfish Film and Ethics
Virtue ethics refers to a philosophy developed by Aristotle. It is a character-based approach to mortality. This theory indicates that practice is vital in the process of virtue acquisition. Virtue ethics contrasts with the view that virtue is present in the world as a natural representation of goodness. Virtue ethics being character-based means that there are different traits and forms of virtue, but all come from constant practice in one’s moral character. For instance, courage would be considered a type of bravery and resoluteness, but bravery comes from years of constantly acting bravely, whereas resoluteness is often displayed when you are angry or feel threatened. Virtue ethics also suggests that healthy interpersonal relationships can have their own virtues (Van Zyl, 46). For example, generosity would be one such virtue for many people around the world since it’s seen as a way to give and express care for others without expecting anything in return.
Critique of Virtue Ethics
An alleged problem or issue with virtue ethics is that it fails to appreciate the intractability of dispute, theory ladenness, and the perspectivai. A debate may be intractable because there is a lack of consensus, or because the issue it addresses cannot be resolved. Theory ladenness refers to the idea that our moral theory should not be biased but include all relevant factors. Virtue ethics is perspectivai since it rejects Kantian or utilitarian formulations that are based on specific perspectives. In virtue ethics, people choose actions that seem good at the time and can change their minds as new evidence arises. An article by Connie Whitenack from 2005 entitled “What’s Wrong With Virtue Ethics” outlines these criticisms by stating a number of common features which have been argued to make virtue ethics deficient as a guiding principle for behavior decision-making.
Virtue Ethics assumes that moral goodness is a matter of following the right rules and displaying the right virtues. We must always do what is considered morally good and refrain from doing anything considered morally bad. Never mind that we may not know for certain what we ought to do; we should simply follow our conscience and hope that it is reliable enough to guide us correctly. This philosophy has many flaws, as can be seen in some of its particular rules about how people should behave. For example, if a person has been taught since childhood to revere those who have authority, they may find themselves naturally obeying those with authority even if those people are doing something harmful or wrong.
The blackfish film is closely related with virtue ethics. The blackfish documentary shows the lives of people working with Orcas. It follows the life of a famous orca trainer, Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by an orca in 2010 at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. While it seems that few people would care about the death of a whale trainer, this film sparks controversy on how animals are treated in such places. This movie is praised for its engaging and emotive portrayal of animal abuse and exploitation in captivity; therefore, it can be said that it is virtuous. The film portrays the lives of whales and what really goes on behind closed doors at places like SeaWorld.
Ted Talk Related to Animal Rights
Buhazza, Noura talks about animal torturing. She describes how humans with no humanity torture animals for their own benefits. The ted talk discusses that humans feel a sense of power when they torture an animal, which is what they rely on (Buhazza, 2). They are humans who need to have control and feel superior to the animal victim. The talk describes how animals tend to react differently depending on what part of their body is tortured. If it’s their back then the animal will be aggressive and try to flee, but if it’s their leg then they will be in pain until the torturing stops. This shows that different emotions can exist when animals are tortured, depending on what part of their body is hurt or killed.
This ted talk shows that there should be laws that control human interaction with animals. Animals must be protected. Humans are the only animals on this planet that torture animals for their own gains and no one should be allowed to go against that. Humans are under a code of morality, which is why we shouldn’t hurt any living thing cause it’s just wrong and humanity should never go against morality.
Blackfish Film and Animal Rights
The documentary titled ‘Blackfish’ is mainly regarding natural history of whales on the basis of how they were treated by humans before shooting one’s attack against them. The Blackfish film illustrates the segregation, hunting practices, and annihilation that face the sea world which comprise of the whales and other animals. These practices are effectively demonstrated in the Tilikum captivity ordeal, the dolphin hunting procedure and many other ways in which the hunt practices are conducted during whale hunts of sea creatures. The movie reveals these incidents to the audience and tells them that there is no need to have a look at these cruel acts which are happening in the field. The people who are involved in these activities have thought it fit to kill whales and other marine animals thinking of their own safety and convenience. In this way, they also avoid being seen as criminals by the people who are watching them doing this activity.
In this film, Orca is discussed to demonstrate great aggressiveness after being incarcerated in the SeaWorld. However, SeaWorld has been fighting against that idea. Since the film was released, it has caused a great amount of controversy on the trainers working in such places and the killers have been removed from captivity. The film is not just about killer whales but also about how they are treated by humans. In general, Blackfish documentary is a great piece on how we treat animals, including whales and dolphins, in captivity at SeaWorld in John Krasinski’s directorial debut. It is an emotional documentary with power conversations to help change our perspective of animal rights and treatment.
This movie has greatly demonstrated the role of ethics in the society and how the society must truly have ethical and moral values to have a better society. The film has shown us that the real leaders of this world are the people who are kind and give love to everyone (Cowperthwaite). The people who are cruel and hate to others will be thrown away from his or her position. This has been showed by the documentary and I can’t state it more properly than that. This article discusses ethical issues surrounding the use of exotic or trained marine mammals for entertainment purposes and how Blackfish, as well as other films such as Dolphin Diary helped to raise awareness in this topic. This is an important discussion that needs to be more widely discussed.
During the film, I felt so sorry for the animals of SeaWorld, who live in small aquariums and must experience horrible things. They are beaten and forced to perform extremely unnatural acts while they were helpless and defenseless. There are stories about orcas attacking their trainers in their habitats at SeaWorld, something that is always talked about in this documentary film. No one seems to believe what really happened to these orcas before the attack or why did it happen at all. Blackfish wants to give its opinion on why those killings happened because of ethical issues inside SeaWorld company.
The film teaches us to always think twice before taking an action. This is mostly vital when those actions tend to infringe other people’s rights of expression or liberty. The people who are cruel like those in this film will never be rewarded and they will be erased from the society. The importance of showing the good and bad sides of this world can never be over emphasized, especially when you are seeing it on large screen. Those who have such values in mind must see this film to foster their ethical and moral values into what they do for a living. In a time where we have to share our opinion about many things whether good or bad, we must still remember that these opinions may not just be expressed by us but also by people around us too. Even if a few people do not support you, it does not mean that you are wrong.
From the film, we can also see how the marine family face harsh training and punishments. These shows the level of lack of empathy in the society and its effects. In this article, we can read the following: “Blackfish would probably be a better film if it had not been produced to make a point about the ethics of keeping marine animals in captivity. Yet despite its intent, Blackfish also humanizes marine animals and exposes their suffering and desperation.”
Thus, animal rights have been a major topic since the production of the Blackfish film. The movie has demonstrated animal abuse on a grand scale, with the orcas being kept in captivity and abused by SeaWorld. The documentary rightfully gained much attention from the people of the world who care about animal rights (Stokes 160). Not to mention, the film has also received criticism throughout its run-on different channels such as social media and traditional news media. When it turns out that these supposed “animal rights activists” are actually just taking advantage of this marine park, Animal Rights Organization has created an action plan for what needs to be done in order to help save these animals and make them happy once again. The Blackfish film is a must watch for anyone who is interested in animal rights or activism as a whole (whether they care about orcas or not).
The article, “SeaWorld should set captive orcas free” stipulates Jean-Michel Cousteau’s calling on the SeaWorld to release its captive orcas. The Oceanographic explorer, indicates that “They need to be released and put back into a place where we can keep an eye on them and they can reconnect with nature,”. Cousteau and his organization Ocean Future Society has been advocating for the release of marine mammals in captivity, a movement that has created conflict with advocacy groups such as People for the Ethical treatment of Animals which are calling for the closure of all marine mammal parks. The article indicates that SeaWorld is “one of the most controversial institutions in North America” due to its poor treatment of orcas. The article also mentions that this type of treatment is not limited to SeaWorld, but it is instead industry-wide phenomenon. Nowadays, there are at least 81 orcas currently held captive in marine parks, zoos and aquaria across the globe (Jean-Michel 4).
“Jean-Michel Cousteau: Seaworld Should Set Captive Orcas Free”. The Guardian, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/27/seaworld-free-captive-orcas-jean-michel-cousteau. Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
Buhazza, Noura. “Animal Rights”. Ted.Com, 2022, https://www.ted.com/talks/noura_buhazza_animal_rights. Accessed 6 Feb 2022.
Cowperthwaite, G., Oteyza, M. V., Despres, E., Ingalls, J., Towey, C., Beal, J., Blackfish. Magnolia Pictures (Firm), Magnolia Home Entertainment (Firm). (2013)
Stokes, Ashli Q., and Wendy Atkins-Sayre. “PETA, rhetorical fracture, and the power of digital activism.” Public Relations Inquiry 7.2 (2018): 149-170.
Van Zyl, Liezl. Virtue ethics: A contemporary introduction. Routledge, 2018.