Rhetoric In Blackfish

1493 Words 6 Pages
Blackfish’s rhetoric centers around the claim that killer whales should not be kept in captivity, as captivity is detrimental to both humans and whales. The film establishes this point is with contrast. Blackfish opens with former trainers on picturesque backdrops, speaking fondly of their relationships with killer whales. Cinematic music ties the scenes together, and this, in addition to footage of killer whales interacting with young children, utilizes ‘warm fuzzies’ with startling efficiency. But midway through the film, footage from the Sealand attack is incorporated and the audience sees that whales are equal parts cuddly love dispensers and sleek, brutal machines. This footage is shortly followed by rueful trainer testimonials. Most …show more content…
And their whiteness and attractiveness serves them best in this part of the film, allowing them to be meditative and sheepish with grace. However, this pattern of whiteness and attractiveness may be more of a reflection of SeaWorld’s hiring policies than Blackfish’s rhetoric. These rueful testimonies back Blackfish’s rhetoric by serving as a proxy for the audience. By opening with ‘warm fuzzies,’ Blackfish caters to the image of killer whales that the audience is most likely used to--as tamed, marine circus animals. Slowly introducing new ideas to the audience, and showing the trainers reflecting upon similar experiences ensures that the audience is not alienated.
From there, the more grisly parts of captivity are explored: whale-on-whale violence, whale-on-trainer violence, and Dawn Brancheau 's death. Blackfish manages to dexterously navigate these topics--and jump from ‘warm fuzzies’ to trainer testimonies without skipping a beat-- by following a storytelling format. This rhetorical choice has both strong and weak
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One of the first claims that SeaWorld makes is that Blackfish’s information is dated. There is validity to that claim: after all, Blackfish relies on trainers who had their heydays in the 1990s. Yet SeaWorld’s scientific evidence is equally dated. SeaWorld backs many of its claims with a paper written in 1998 by Dr. Ingrid Visser. Dr. Ingrid Visser, whose work was cited without her permission, has since decried SeaWorld’s use of her paper in its rebuttal. Dr. Visser is also an outspoken opponent of killer whale captivity. For example, Dr. Visser was an active participant in the effort to release Morgan, an orca situated at Loro Parque, into the wild. But this information does not deter SeaWorld from citing Dr. Visser’s paper four times, which is more than any other paper mentioned in the rebuttal. SeaWorld’s rhetoric is thus weakened by its own

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