Misplaced Activism?

I found the trailer for The Cove the other night while browsing the apple.com/trailers. You can find it here.  I’m encouraged that this is on the front page of the trailers page; it gives me hope that it might been seen by more people than it would if it were advertised only in independent movie houses (though how wide the release will actually be, I am not sure).  Wide exposure appears to be the hope of the film makers, based on their comments in the trailer. The catch is that getting an American audience to pay attention isn’t really the point. Yes, exposure is important, and creating concern is an essential part of the animal rights movement. Unless, however, it goes to the next step, where voters put pressure on Congress to restrict trade with Japan in retaliation for the dolphin hunt, is there much point?

This slaughter already had decent media exposure in 2007 when Hayden Panettiere took part in an attempt to stop an annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Wakayama, Japan, the target of The Cove. The Japanese media criticized the event as a condemnation of their culture. It’s a fair point, actually. I don’t support dolphin slaughter, but we as Americans are being rather hypocritical (how unexpected), denouncing the Japanese hunt, but allowing subsistence whaling and pouring tax dollars into factory farming of both mammals and fish. Once again, we are arbitrarily conferring elevated rights to a species because of their intelligence or “cuteness,” while blindly suppressing and torturing the lives of terrestrial farmed animals in this country.

I intend to see The Cove when it is released at the end of next month, and it will probably make me sick with rage. It is rated PG-13 for “disturbing images.” I can only imagine. If nothing else, it will be a great look into the efforts animal rights advocates have to take simply to show what is being done to animals, even if they are not interfering. Whether it will have the impact it hopes to achieve, however, is another story, and I am not sure it will be received well, or even seen, by Japanese audiences, which is where the real exposure is most needed.

–Seth Victor

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