Tag Archives: Netflix

You should watch Blackfish

If you haven’t watched Blackfish on Netflix, do it immediately. It’s definitely one of the best documentary films I’ve seen in my life. Composed mostly of interviews with former trainers at SeaWorld amusement parks, Blackfish argues that it’s barbaric and morally wrong for human beings to hold killer whales in captivity, that regardless of their ability to learn and perform tricks and other complex behaviors, orcas simply aren’t meant to be living their lives in these fish tanks, prisons really, where the lack of stimulus often leads to aggressive behavior not seen in the wild.


The movie is powerful. I watched it a few days ago, and I’ve been carrying around a pit in the center of my stomach ever since, a weird sort of indefinable sadness lurking in the periphery of my thoughts. I’m not like a whale lover or anything, I mean, I certainly respect the majesty and the intelligence of these creatures. We share the same planet yet they occupy a totally different world, experience reality in ways that we can only guess.

And that’s, I think, kind of the root behind why I’m feeling so down. That while I can guess as to how the whales feel, out in the wild, in captivity, I really have no idea, and I’ll never have any idea. One of the trainers in the film looks back at his time with SeaWorld, he remarks that he used to feel like he had a special connection with his whale. But after having been removed from the situation, he starts questioning, was it really a connection? Or was it merely anthropomorphized responses motivated by the fish used to reward each behavior?

Who knows what a whale is thinking? I look at my dog, who knows what my dog is thinking? And this is where I start to get really bummed out. We adopted our dog Steve when he was only six weeks old. We were living in Ecuador at the time, and this flea-covered animal, barely bigger than a baseball, was all but thrown at us by a well-intentioned neighbor. “Here you go, look, a puppy,” was the gist of it, and we raised him, we brought him back to the United States with us, giving this animal that should have been living on the streets a life of luxury and comfort.

But is that what Steve wants? I know that he likes to eat, and if I’m holding out a dog biscuit or a piece of rawhide, he’ll sit, he’ll lay down, he’ll give me his paws. But if the reward weren’t a part of the equation, is there any way he’d be doing what he’s doing? Steve spends a lot of the time sleeping on the couch, or looking out the window. Is there a part of him that wishes he had his freedom? How big of a part is it?

It all boils down to the fact that, I have no idea what he’s thinking. I look at him and I make assumptions based on his behavior that he’s happy or not happy. And I do love my dog, and I really do hope that he’s happy. When I come home after work and he’s jumping at the door, I like to think that he’s excited to see me, rather than just excited at the potential that I might be moved to ask him to do a trick to be rewarded with a dog biscuit. When I’m sitting down on the couch and he lies down on top of me, I hope to think that he enjoys my presence, that he’s not begrudgingly using me as a substitute for what should be physical contact with other dogs.

Whales aren’t dogs, I know that. I know that dogs have a history of domestication, of a mutual partnership with human beings that dates far back throughout history. But dogs aren’t people either. And I can’t even tell what other people are thinking most of the time. If you ask me how I’m doing, I’ll probably always smile and say, “Great!” But am I really doing great? Maybe. Maybe I’m super pissed off. But I just want to come across as cheerful, because that’s going to get me farther in life than being pissed off.

I guess I just have to do the best I can, to try my best to be empathetic, to treat everybody with compassion and kindness. But there are always a million other questions that I’ll never really be able to touch. Like what the cow feels as it’s led to the slaughter. Or what the cockroach feels as I stamp it out under my shoe when I see it running across my living room floor. It’s too much. These moral dilemmas, I don’t have any convincing answers to make myself feel better.

But seriously, watch Blackfish, because it’s a great movie, and it made me certain of at least one thing: don’t go to SeaWorld. Don’t support them caging those whales. Fuck that.

A message from my corporate sponsors

Folks, I’ve decided to monetize this whole blogging experience, and so I’ve agreed to start lacing my writing with product placements. Not to worry though, I’m such a talented writer that I can assure you the built-in advertisements will blend in seamlessly with my award-winning prose. It’s like you won’t even know you’re being marketed to. Like when you’re eating a delicious bowl of Kashi breakfast cereal, you’re thinking to yourself, I can’t believe how smoothly our friends at Kashi have combined great taste with all of these all natural ingredients. Talk about getting your day off to a great start. Vitamins, minerals, all of the good complex carbs and proteins. That’s what you need to fuel your day. Or lunch. There’s nothing wrong with having cereal for lunch. Or even dinner. You’re hungry, you’re hungry. Kashi’s a great choice any time of the day.

That’s what this new approach is going to be like. You’ll say to yourself, wow, I just read a whole piece and I couldn’t even tell I was being sold on something. Obviously the blue highlighted hyperlinks might stand out somewhat, but just try not to think about them. Just read my blog posts for the same entertainment that you know you’re always guaranteed to experience. Just like when you watch House of Cards on Netflix. You’re not thinking about streaming video or what device you’re watching it on. You’re thinking to yourself, how have I lived my life so far without watching this groundbreaking new show? Compelling drama. Gripping narrative. Like it grips your imagination. Like Goodyear Tires grip the road, regardless of the terrain, rain or shine, you know your vehicle is in good hands.

Invariably there are going to be some people not happy with this new arrangement. They’ll call me a sell out. They’ll accuse me of promoting products and services that maybe I don’t even really like, that maybe I’m just bowing to corporate pressure, to increase traffic to a particular web site, or to draw attention to a paying sponsor. But that’s not what I’ve ever been about, and that’s not what I’m ever about to be about. It’s about delivering quality content to you, the reader. It’s about uncompromising values, about standards. It’s like TD Ameritrade, when they put together a portfolio of investments, you know they’re not sacrificing quality over profit. Just like Tommy Lee Jones and that guy from Law and Order tell you on the commercials: you’re putting your money somewhere you can trust, with people you can count on.

It’s about me writing new and fresh content, it’s about me not making the same joke over and over again, paragraph after paragraph, highlighting some random company, pretending they’re my corporate patron, making a generic sounding complement about them, and then linking to them. You’re gong to enjoy what you read here. Like you enjoy Coke. I love Coke. And Mountain Dew. I love Mountain Dew also. See? That’s different. Coke and Mountain Dew are clearly owned by two separate companies, and so they both wouldn’t pay to advertise on the same site, in the same paragraph. One of those is a paid shout-out, one of them my own opinion. See I can have it both ways. I can still write and have a voice and …

Hold on, I just got an email. I was wrong. I don’t like Mountain Dew at all. It’s gross. Too much sugar. And remember that whole thing about yellow number five? Doesn’t it decrease your sperm count?

Wait a second, another email. I actually had that mixed up. Coke is the problem here. Those bunch of fascists. Mountain Dew has always been one of my favorite soft drinks. And the sperm count thing? Yellow five actually increases your sperm count. Helping America, helping the next generation. Mountain Dew.

Readers, I guarantee that you’ll still be entertained every day. And if you get pointed to some quality products in the meantime? That sounds like a win-win to me. Like those big cans of Arizona green tea. The first win is that it’s only ninety-nine cents. The second win is after you take your first sip and realize just how delicious and refreshing your beverage is. The third win, so yeah, it’s actually a win-win-win, is when you finish that last sip, still want more, but realize that, because it’s so cheap, you can keep buying them and drinking them without pause. A true win-win-win.

And that’s what I’m going to offer. I thank you for your continued support, and look forward to offering only the finest of endorsements. Also, I’m thinking of paying some marketing firm to pay other blogs to mention my blog in their blog posts. Does that sound like a good idea? You think it might boost traffic? Let me know. Let’s go viral. Let’s get this going viral.