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Home » Culture and Criticism

The Cove

Submitted by on February 15, 2010 – 12:59 PM15 Comments

flipper…Man.The Cove is a gripping documentary, but "hard to watch" doesn't begin.It's hard to watch Ric O'Barry, who worked as the dolphin trainer on Flipper, trying to atone for his part in the culture's continuing capture of dolphins for entertainment.It's hard to watch free diver Mandy-Rae Cruikshank weeping, talking about the dolphins at the killing cove seeming to call to her for help.It's hard to watch the baby dolphins at the killing cove, period. Teeny; jumping; doomed; horrible.

It's hard to watch the last 15 minutes, very hard. If I'd seen the film in a theater, I'd have fled; it's devastating.

The deck is an easy one to stack — who doesn't love dolphins, their smiley faces, their bubble-voiced chatter, the tricks they do? Siding with the movie is a no-brainer, but then the filmmakers didn't just film.They put together a strike force and tried to do something about the slaughter and the cover-up, Ocean's 11-style — midnight ops, cameras hidden in fake rocks, the whole bit. It's a touching movie, but also exciting and fun…when it's not so heart-wrenching that you run for the nearest pet and hug it until it squeaks.

If you think you can't take it, you can always buy a t-shirt to support the cause, or reconsider that vacay to the seaquarium — but give it a try. It's the best doc I've seen in the category to date.

Death Race 38, Sarah 20; 6 out of 24 categories completed

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  • Jen S says:

    You're stronger than me, Sars–the second I heard about itI went "nope." I absolutely cannot bear to watch an animal be mistreated or hurt. And no, I don't know why: I eat meat, wear leather shoes, etc. But clubbing a dolphin to death for no reason except it was an "extra" and feeding the meat to schoolkids? That's seriously evil, Bond-villian territory shit.

  • shanchan says:

    Absolutely devastating. I too went home and hugged my cats until they got very annoyed. I wanted to march on Seaworld. I regretted ever wishing to do one of those "swim with the dolphins" deals at a hotel. I wanted to punch that crazy guy that kept creepily confronting the cameraman, and the politicians who pretend O'Barry is just a crazy old man. I wanted to do something to stop it! But all I could really do is send news stories about the movie to my friends in Japan and give money to O'Barry's project and hope the Japanese public puts the kibosh on this.

  • Grainger says:

    One of the critics had a good point; that is, we wouldn't really like to go hang around a feedlot slaughterhouse to watch how cows get turned into cheesburgers. This is the same thing, only we're horrified because dolphins are animals we've defined as Cute.

    That said…

    A) we aren't happy about the feedlot thing either, and we're willing to pay a premium to not have that happen, and we're taking steps to get rid of it entirely;

    B) maybe you idiots should be eating sustainably instead of grabbing wild animals from the open ocean, not to mention the whole mercury thing;

    C) it's obvious that this isn't so much about food as it is about a combination of sportfishing and Noble Savage fetishization of a fantasy ancestral life.

    In summation, FUCK YOU JAPAN. Also, make more cartoons about Getter Robo and less cartoons about My Underage Stepsister Wants My Cock.

    (Actually, mercury poisioning would explain a lot about contemporary Japanese culture.)

  • Margaret in CO says:

    Grainger, I love you.

  • JenV says:

    @Grainger – I too love you. Japan's endless rape of the world's oceans is pretty gross. I mean, I get that they're an island, but come on.

    I also have a major bone to pick with the rampant "superstitious Mad-Libs diet" that goes on in many parts of Asia (to be fair, it goes on in other parts of the world, too.) By that I mean, this baloney with the "if I eat powdered/dried of I will take on the of ." Dudes. No, you won't.

    I watched the Wild Russia series a few months ago (amazing!) and it seemed like for every other beautiful and fantastic animal they featured, the narrator said something like this "X animal is now severely endangered because their kidneys are considered a rare delicacy/used as a remedy for warts in China."

    I eat meat, so I guess some people consider that immoral and sometimes I feel guilty about it, but I am willing to pay a premium for meat from animals treated humanely. And we're not in any danger of losing the cow – let's face it, were it not for human consumption there wouldn't be nearly so many cows. So I will happily claim moral high ground over some idiot who is helping to cause extinction of a beautiful and amazing creature like the tiger because he thinks eating pulverized tiger bones will give him the strength and virility of the tiger, or whatever.

  • I'd been sort of familiar with the the wrongness of what gets done to dolphins at theme parks, thanks to Carl Hiaasen's Native Tongue (as well as the sick, and hilarious, consequences of having people swim with male dolphins who don't have a mate with them), but this documentary was not only an eye-opener, as you say, it was also well made. Not only that, but Ric O'Barry is compelling to watch, because he's not smug about what he does; his attitude is always, "I should be doing more."

  • Adrienne says:

    Oh, god, I remember hearing about this when it was shooting (poor choice of words, there) and recall seeing the footage of Hayden Panettiere in a wet suit at the protest, just… losing her shit. It's been, what? A year or two ago? I think watching Claire Bennett from Heroes sobbing against the background noise of people shooting dolphins was about the saddest 30 seconds of film I've ever seen. I don't think I could watch this movie…

  • La BellaDonna says:

    Oh. My. GOD.

    These creatures, in the wild, go OUT OF THEIR WAY to save humans from drowning.

    And THAT'S what happens? I thought tuna nets were the worst of it.

    I can't see this. I'm crying at my desk.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    It gets even worse — the meat is crazy high in mercury, and the locals tried to put it into the school-lunch system and then pass it (and in fact the whole slaughter) off as "tradition." Street interviews revealed, unsurprisingly, no awareness of the "tradition" of eating dolphin among the general public.

    One guy who started a surfers-for-dolphins organization told a story about how a dolphin saved him and his friend from a huge shark.

  • La BellaDonna says:

    JenV: Yeah, if that "if I eat powdered/dried of I will take on the of ." really worked, then they'd be eating Powdered Popular Sports And Entertainment Figures. At least THAT would be more honest.

    And the truth of the matter is, we have a domestic contract with cows: they get food, shelter, and medical care; we eat them. Wild animals don't have that contract. They DON'T benefit from a relationship with humans, except for the handful that try to redress the imbalance (destruction of habitat, merciless hunting) originally caused by humans. I go to, I click on the buttons, I send my money where I hope it will help – and I don't watch animal documentaries any more.

  • RJ says:

    I could DEFINITELY NOT watch this movie. I got depressed watching "Cloverfield," which involved nothing cute and featured aliens destroying New York. I couldn't make it through this.

  • Grainger says:

    "…if that "if I eat powdered/dried of I will take on the of ." really worked, then they'd be eating Powdered Popular Sports And Entertainment Figures."

    I'd pay ten bucks to see that!

  • La BellaDonna says:

    @Grainger: If it would keep them from eating wild animals, I'd pitch in to help arrange it. Truth.

    Side Note: Now THERE'S something positive to do with your Most Hated Ballplayers!

  • JenV says:

    For what it's worth, this:
    "If I eat powdered/dried of I will take on the of "

    was actually supposed to be this:

    "If I eat powdered/dried [body part] of [exotic, endangered animal] I will take on the [awesome characteristic] of [aforementioned animal]."

    Which made a lot more sense. But I used the angle brackets instead of the square ones and they got yanked out as html. Argh!

  • Sandman says:

    Oh. Oh, no. You know, I wish Douglas Adams had been in documentary mode, rather than satirical, when he wrote that the dolphins are going to be the ones rescued from the planet when that hyperspace bypass goes through.

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