You know what’s true?
You know what else is true? I haven’t watched Blackfish. I have no plans to watch Blackfish. I don’t want to see it because I know it will make me feel miserable for being an apex predator species that has been systematically destroying the planet since the dawn of its existence. I also realize that this doesn’t jibe with what I wrote before about people who refuse to read endings that aren’t happy, but in this case, and by “this case” I mean “when it comes to me, a person who has had miniature nervous breakdowns over sad-looking dogs and old guys eating alone at Arby’s in the middle of the day,” I know my limit, and Blackfish is way beyond it. I don’t need to see it to know that it would break my heart.
But just because I’m not watching Blackfish, that doesn’t mean I’m immune to everyone else’s thoughts about. And I was actually already familiar with Tilikum; you see, I used to work for the company that used to own the park where Tilikum lived (and, um, killed people), and at one point, I drafted a PR response regarding the treatment of animals in that park (although not specifically Tilikum and not because he killed people) that was circulated to the media and various animal rights groups (although mostly PETA, which is more of a terrorist cell/attention whore than an animal rights group).
I did this because it was my job. Well, it was part of my job. Mainly, my job was to listen to lunatics and assholes scream at me for various offenses committed against them by my employer. Most imagined, most slight. I drafted responses for lots of things, including sea mammals, big smelly horses, alien life forms being transported via beer can, GMO crops, marijuana legislation, the political contributions of private citizens, BPA-rich package lining, and why nobody is ever going to bring back the “WASSSSUUUPPP” commercials no matter what your trailer park thinks, so please stop asking.
It was a weird time. While I did not always agree with the content of the responses I was paid to write, I did agree (I still agree) that the points made were reasonable. They had to be. Unreasonable points were reserved for people to whom I was supposed refer as “customers,” even though the more accurate word in many cases was probably “nutter” or “persistent alcohol abuser/hallucinator.” Even when I didn’t agree with the content of what I was writing (for example, it made sense that a purchaser of non-GMO wheat couldn’t rightly guarantee that the crop they purchased had never ever been tainted by a windblown mote of GMO grain; however, shouldn’t the company take some sort of stand on what is generally agreed to be a crappy thing?), I also knew that a person is rarely defined by their job. A “customer” could call me any names they wanted just because I wasn’t joining their personal crusade, but aside from the actual Nazis, there are very few people you can blame for all of the perceived slights of their employer.
I mean, I have friends who work for Monsanto. I have friends who work for Big Pharma. I have friends who work for P&G, for weapons manufacturers, for big evil banks, and for an arm of the government that is tasked with waging war. I have friends who work for companies that do way more harm than good, and some of that harm is so heinous that we will probably never even get to know about it. And while I don’t agree with everything these companies do, I know that my friends are not the people making the decisions. They are not the people enforcing the policies. They are not defined by their jobs, which is why I got tetchy when anyone accused me of being defined by my job, because I never walked down to their office and smacked the passive-aggressive communal refrigerator note out of their hand, did I?
While I understand the outrage that Blackfish has caused and I think that it’s not entirely unfounded, it’s important to remember that documentaries are skewed by the intentions of their makers. Which is fine, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be. But I find it interesting how some of the people who have commented on Blackfish (as well as the people who called and wrote to my company) feel okay with being picky about their causes. Tilikum’s evil captors are to blame for his outbursts, but pitbulls are inherently violent dogs that cannot be trained. We have to liberate the dolphins, but we’ll be damned before we’ll ever acknowledge that human trafficking exists today. Sure, the Humane Society rescues, treats, and adopts out millions of animals per year while educating people about it, but it also euthanizes some out of necessity and that’s why so many people would rather pay out the ass for a French Bulldog (is that still the dog du jour or am I behind a couple of years?) because “omg, they’re just so cute!”*
“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
– Ron Fucking Swanson
And that’s especially true for activism, because when you half-ass a pet selection of causes, you’re really just taking a shit on all of the other ones.
*I’d rather you didn’t try to excuse yourself for pursuing a purebred vanity project by claiming that your dog was adopted from a rescue. Please don’t pretend like no one would have adopted little Sir Chuffington Sniffleface III while all of those mutts down at Animal Control deserved to be euthanized. It really just means that you’d rather look at a specific kind of dog face every day. Your excuse sucks and so do you.