Films for Action: Blackfish

 

There’s a very popular hashtag trend on Twitter and it goes by #EmptyTheTanks. If you were to search this I guarantee you’ll see links to Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish and it is clear why.

Blackfish takes an in-depth look into the controversy with capturing Orca, or Killer, whales and raising them in captivity which in turn reveals the shocking and unfortunate truth behind the dazzling lights and performances at SeaWorld.

Ex-trainers give their personal accounts of their experiences at SeaWorld from their naivety as young, new trainers lacking education about these orca whales, to the death of their friend, and fellow trainer, Dawn Brancheau. The tragedy of Dawn’s death sparked much outrage given the nature of the upfront circumstances calling for Tilikum to be put down, however despite the actions of Tilikum, is he the one to really blame?

The film focuses on Tilikum – an orca far too large to be in a tank in the first place – who suffers from psychotic stress and trauma from being taken from the wild and being forced into captivity to become an entertainer for humans. The hard-hitting facts presented predominantly come from the visual contrasts of orca whales roaming in the wild to these lifeless, floating giants in large swimming pools at SeaWorld. Needless to say, the message is clear: orcas in captivity is inhumane.

Further to the latter, facts from marine biologists about orcas in the wild expose lies given to park visitors by Seaworld staff (who have probably never seen an orca in the wild), for example: the life expectancy of orca whales in captivity is believed to be longer than orcas in the wild. The misguided information provided at the parks also raises concern towards the moral aspect of bringing in money vs actually educating people properly about these sea creatures who are unethically dying in an unnatural habitat.

One of the worst parts of SeaWorld’s outlook and animal programs is that there are alternative plans to enable the release of captive orcas – one of the front runners for this campaign is Ingrid Visser, a marine biologist from New Zealand. Visser has been a huge advocate for sea sanctuaries, presenting plans for large scale pens to be placed in the sea to retire orcas in. Inevitably there is a harsh reality due to their captivity that orcas from SeaWorld will not ever be able to be fully released, however the sea sanctuaries are the closest thing to knowing a sense of freedom.

An article by Brian Clark Howard for the National Geographic addresses the slow growing progression that is being made with regards to orca shows but unfortunately Howard identifies that not all orca shows across the USA have complied. Furthermore even though a SeaWorld park in California stopped shows in 2015, SeaWorld still own the orcas and have no obligations to remove them from their enclosures (well, aside from moral obligations of course).

Reverting back to Howard’s point on progression, after public pressure ignited by the outrage from Blackfish, SeaWorld announced in 2016 that they will no longer continue the orca breeding program. Now considering the prior popularity of these orca shows, this is a fantastic step forward yet undeniably on an iceberg-like scale. What I mean by “iceberg scale” is quite simply that there are still many orca whales living in inadequate tanks across the world, and regrettably it took the death of a SeaWorld trainer to finally start actively addressing the issue and effects of orcas in captivity.

Blackfish leaves viewers with a bleak depiction of life for orcas in sea parks – it evokes emotion from the spectator but more notably from the ex-trainers, wild life activists and marine biologists. Yet just under the surface, the desperate plea to #EmptyTheTanks comes from people’s reaction to growing knowledge and appreciation of how orcas live and prosper in the wild, and a large increase of this activism and protest is thanks to Blackfish.

// Tilikum died earlier this year in captivity at SeaWorld – lets make sure he’s the last //

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Courgette Crisis

I had heard a few rumours and seen a few hashtags, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I fully appreciated that the UK is currently losing their vegetables. The leading front runner of this campaign is the courgette, which has quickly established a #courgettecrisis and for good reason.

Now while we can appreciate it’s easy to forget the small things, because credit where it’s due it has been one eventful week – Trump’s in the most powerful seat in office presenting us with “alternative facts”, and Marine Le Pen is leading an uprising of the far right – the courgette situation has not gone unnoticed.

Although the outcry is somewhat dramatic, it is not unprecedented. According to online sources the scarce show of courgettes is due to heavy snowfall in Spain, who sources the majority of the UK’s supply. Unfortunately this doesn’t stop here as it has been noted that other vegetables like aubergines, cucumbers, and broccoli are at risk of becoming less frequent dinner guests too.

Trying to adopt a positive attitude this new year, it would be wonderful to to think that such a catastrophe could encourage more British consumers into “home growing”, or at least look at sourcing one’s vegetables organically by supporting local farms and their other produce. Now, this doesn’t solve the crisis, I know, but it does logically seek an alternative as opposed to declaring a code red situation, like one Guardian reader:

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>> Link for full article by The Guardian <<

God speed Charlotte, I’m so happy you got through that ordeal… Luckily there are some more appropriate, and blunt responses:

twitter-quote>> @Parveen_Comms <<

I too addressed the situation on Twitter, albeit less outranged more “well this is happening”, to which Sainsbury’s swiftly restored my faith in humanity:

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I myself am a lover of courgettes, but it goes without saying that the crisis is not like swearing off something on par with the end of a species. The courgettes will return, but as demanding as we are, consumers can’t always have everything.

My 2017 Reading List

I was very humble with my Christmas list last year, the contents of which revolved around practical items such as socks, make-up remover, and of course books! In tune with my new practical outlook it seemed fitting that my new year’s resolution followed suit: READ MORE!

As an aspiring blogger in pursuit of a job in content writing I wanted to introduce some variety into my material for 2017. My top author’s thus far are Patti Smith, Miranda July, and Raymond Carver (I’m a big fan of short stories), and I am keen to expand and broaden my horizons.

1. A bit of lifestyle:  The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

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I was told about this little gem by a friend, and then having seen The Times rave about it the curiosity killed me. I’d visited Copenhagen last July and fell in love with the Danish culture, food, style, and what I have now learned to be known as “hygge” aka: enjoying the simple things (in a nutshell).

Wiking explores the way in which one can encompass hygge into everyday life and the results are both therapeutic and positive – everything me and my well being need for 2017 – from cooking and clothing, to the outdoors and happiness

2. A bit of philosophy: Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

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I was first introduced to Nietzsche while studying Film at university and was very much captivated by his theories on “Will to power” and “Superman”. When applying his “Will to power” theory in film I loved analysing the concept of humans as desiring machines which then spiralled into a discourse about “becoming”.

I selected Nietzsche’s most known work Thus Spoke Zarathustra for his nihilistic and atheist approach towards humanity, which incorporates one of my favourite ideas about the “superman”, or as my lecturer labelled, the “superhuman”.

3. A bit of humour and guidance: Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham

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    “I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle” – relatable, well said Lena.

    I am a huge fan of of the TV show Girls and cannot wait for the last season. I love what Dunham has created with the script by depicting the honest, hilarious and brutal troubles of what life is like in your 20s (especially when you don’t have it all figured out). With the latter in mind, as you can imagine, I have been wanting to get my hands on her book for awhile.

    4. A bit of Art & Film: Incomplete Control by Sarah Keller

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    “Avant-Garde” was one of my favourite modules at university, for which Maya Deren became a key figure in my essays and education. Known best for Meshes of the Afternoon, Deren is one of the most influential American avant-garde filmmakers who introduced me to new ways in which one can express and convey ideas through film.

    In Incomplete Control, Sarah Keller discusses and explores Deren’s successful career as a female experimental filmmaker/artist, but also examines her unfinished works as well. Although I may no longer be at university, I’m definitely still a loyal disciple of film studies.

    5. A bit of fiction: Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

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    Having expressed my interest in short stories and fast fiction, I was given this book to borrow by a friend. The title rings familiar, but to be honest I don’t know too much about the book itself or McInerney. Before committing to the idea of another book, my friend and I had a little bed time read – I was astonished and completely sold when realising Bright Lights, Big City is written in the second person! How intriguing!

    A few pages in and McInerney proves witty, thought-provoking, and brilliant, so it’s of no surprise at all that it had to be added to my list.

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    Given my inability to speed read, I am sure that my 5 top picks will keep me occupied for the majority of 2017. If anyone has a read of them, or has any other recommendations, then please do share!

    // Happy New Year //

Top Dietary Documentaries (On Netflix)

If you have had a gander at my previous blog posts, you can make the safe assumption that I’m into my food. I’m no pro, but I primarily upload food posts because of my enjoyment of cooking, and sharing is caring.

I’m super guilty, as I enjoy my fast food, but I do aim for balance. This year I have also started to do more exercise (mostly cross-training, but also walking the dog, aha) and I have started to notice a difference.

Everybody hits that moment where you actually want to be healthier than you currently are, but there are different routes to this conclusion. For me, it was through various documentaries that I watched on Netflix, and some of them hit hard.

I want to share with you some of my favourite and most recommended documentaries about diet and nutrition that I found, because as a viewer I was shell-shocked with some of the harsh facts. However, despite the seemingly bleak content in these films, I believe it is important that everyone should hear what they have to say.

In no particular order…

Fed Up

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For me, this was particularly disturbing to watch as it focuses on Obesity in American children. Fed Up exposes how major food companies neglect the health of their consumers through marketing and advertising by means of ignoring the harm their products are actually causing.

From nutritionists and doctors, to parents and the children themselves, Fed Up examines the reality of what we consume, and how this effects our health both physically and mentally. It was quite horrific to see the amount of sugar in some products – ones which I have consumed myself – as the film then shows how this effects your body.

I think this film has prompted a huge movement in the health sector.

Watch: Fed Up Trailer

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

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I love Joe, and I love this film – it’s personal, and proof of the possible. This doc follows Joe on his journey to lose weight by juicing. It’s an honest account of a man understanding and accepting that he needs to change his body and his mind – spoiler alert: he does!

It’s a really uplifting and inspiring film, and Joe responsibly then goes on to help others with their journeys – there’s a Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 (which you should also watch). As a viewer, and someone who is maybe wanting to get in better shape, you can easily identify with Joe as he really does come out the other side by changing his diet, which effectively changes his life.

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I finally did get my juicer! You should follow Joe to get some of his great juice recipes, and more.

Watch: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead Trailer

Watch: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 Trailer

 

Food, Inc

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Food, Inc is a bit more of a stomach turner, and frankly, quite harrowing – very much proving that “the truth hurts”. However, this doc gives insight into the production of meat in factories vs independent farms, the effects of meat in consumers, and the conditions of the live stock and workers.

As a viewer, and consumer, we come to officially realise the control that large corporations within the meat industry have over us – unfortunately we are the ones that suffer. Moreover, we are equally condoning their actions by purchasing their products. We also see the ways in which our health is at risk as large corporations are exposed for taking cheaper and unethical routes to make their business thrive.

Watch: Food, Inc Trailer

Hungry For Change

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Hungry for Changes takes an in-depth look at; nutrition; the physical and mental effects of certain ingredients/chemicals found in food; and the benefits overall of a healthy diet.

There are a lot of nutritionists, doctors, and authors of well-being books. Some have criticised this tactic of authority and said it manipulates the viewer too much, because who wouldn’t believe a doctor? I agree to an extent, however I am pushing for this manoeuvre as I still maintain that this doc should be seen. We have hit that point where we have to listen to these facts, whether we like it or not.

Watch: Hungry For Change Trailer

You should really watch them!

I know these films don’t scream “entertaining”, but I assure you they are. More importantly they are films to support and educate you about things we should be aware of, but have in fact been hidden from us.

Learning the truth typically isn’t easy – it’s quite inconvenient. But, as these films demonstrate, there is so much wrong that needs to be made right.

For me, I notice when I’m happier, healthier and more productive, and I’m sure you do too. These films shed light on ways in which I can improve my health and well-being, so I am glad that I watched them.

When we’re eating food that’s good for our bodies, and exercising, our happiness goes through the roof – and although some times challenging, for me, it’s totally worth it.

Thought of the day: the weatherman

Climate change has always been an issue, but apparently it’s under the radar as long as it does not cause too much destruction.

I live in the UK and like most I have been following the coverage on hurricane Desmond – his lasted attack was in Cumbria. Now, I live roughly 4 hours away from Cumbria, and to think that I am safe and unaffected by this would be incredibly ignorant, as would it be for anyone else.

When I was younger I remember watching news reports about hurricanes in America, and shamefully being thankful thinking that the UK does not suffer from such catastrophes. Now, the fact that we’re already on hurricane Desmond is extremely alarming – but we should have addressed this a long time ago.

What can we do? My issue is that I feel as though we are being warned about rising temperatures and flooding rivers but are not being equipped with the right information as to how we, as a nation, can help prevent the consequences. Do not get me wrong, the information is there, just not on a large enough scale as to advocate changes in peoples’ lifestyle.

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes tragedies to happen close to home for people to take action. I wish this weren’t true as the UK watches Cumbria evacuating homes; businesses going under; lives that families built being washed away.

My thought of the day:

during the weather programme after the news, the presenter notifies the ways in which the public can do little things to contribute to the prevention of climate change. This can be simple and accessible tasks such as turning off lights in rooms, sourcing food locally, or taking shorter showers. Now, I appreciate that ‘we already know this’, but are we actually doing anything? My thought here is that by consistently reinforcing  this information, change and progress will be made.

Climate change is not a county issue, nor a national or european one. Climate change is a world-wide crisis.