Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Cove


Weekend night with the girls asleep and Michael spending the night at Daniel's house, so it's video night here at the homestead. Let it not be said we don't know how to have fun any more. A light dusting of snow on the roads and the cat's outside the door refusing to come in. He'd rather be out with the sheep. The movie, The Cove, is an excellent documentary that transports us to the deeper recesses of human cruelty, a kind of anthropocentric fascism that one day will be seen for the evil that it represents. The focus of the movie is Ric O'Barry, the animal trainer who brought us Flipper, for which he has been atoning for the past 35 years. He lives for the day when he can shut down the dolphin hunt which occurs every year in Taiji, Japan, a remote whaling outpost that has kept its gory practice a secret by barring journalists and activists from the cove where the dolphins are trapped and harpooned until the waters run red with their blood. The main financial incentive for the fishermen is to sell some of the captured dolphins to dolphin shows like Seaquarium around the world that profit from our love of the intelligent sea mammals, actually whales, spawned in large part by the succesful run Flipper enjoyed on the tube during my growing up years. Hence O'Barry's sense of mission and the impetus for the film, which was made by a crack team of activists and adventurers who covertly installed cameras in the recesses of the bay. It's a great story, the best kind, that follows an unlikely hero to his existential dilemma of an end, haunted by his obsessions. It is clear that O'Barry has garnered a victory of sorts as he tramps through the halls of the International Whaling Conference, upsetting the proceedings with a laptop he carries at his chest showing images he and his team of rebels have captured which prove inconclusively and embarrassingly, (to the Japanese delegation) that the slaughter is in fact occurring. But he, and we, are powerless to stop it nonetheless. So O'Barry, like a modern day prophet, stands in an unnamed city's traffic in speeded up time at the end, holding his laptop as witness as the crowds stream unceasingly past.
The Japanese have a decent retort in that the hunt satisfies a small market for dolphin meat in their country, despite the high levels of mercury. But there is no getting around the inhumanity and barbarity of the practice. Is it any worse than the slaughter of factory raised cows and chickens to feed Western appetites? was the question we asked. The point made by one of the scientists in the movie is that we know so little about our fellow creatures here on Earth. Hence our consciousness is so undeveloped while we look to the stars for the answers to our deepest yearnings. Someday we will learn from our fellow creatures that we are not just one humanity, but one life force dependent on one another for learning how to coexist on this planet. In the meantime, watch this movie if you can.
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