About one year ago I walked out of the movie theatre after seeing The Cove, and for the first time in my life I was moved emotionally by a film to the point of having a physical reaction: I had goosebumps, I was speechless, and my heart didn't slow down for several hours afterward. It was one of the first times I've ever truly felt inspired to get up and do something. Now one year later, I'm still obsessing about the film, the dolphin hunt, and the news stories related to it. But has anything changed?
This is unusual for a home blog to write about, but I thought it worth mentioning.
We're now within a few days of the start of the annual Taiji dolphin hunt. Around this time last year, the hunt had been delayed due to international pressure. Taiji's sister city of Broome, Australia had humiliated Taiji by suspending its sister city status in protest, and I felt a renewed sense of hope that people could be trusted to do the right thing.
It's been a year of triumphs for the creators of The Cove since its release last summer: dozens of awards including the Academy Award for Best Documentary, celebrity endorsements, a spin-off reality show on Animal Planet, and of course the showings in Japan which have created so much controversy and attention for the film.
As of August 2010 the hunt is still scheduled to go ahead as usual. Broome has reinstated sister city status and fiercely patriotic Japanese nationalists have effectively intimidated Ric O'Barry and other dolphin activists from returning to the site for the start of the hunting season. The oceans seem to only have gotten worse as they are also now filled with thousands of more tons of crude oil and harmful chemical dispersants guaranteed to increase the already massive "dead zones."
For those who would argue that this hunt is a cultural tradition, it's just unfathomable. This isn't an attack on Japanese culture, it isn't racism. Some traditions just aren't worth keeping. Slavery was once considered a cultural tradition, but we're much better off without it. "Because it's tradition" is terrible reason to continue the senseless killing of whales. It's common sense that you shouldn't eat food or sell a product that is dangerously contaminated with mercury, so why protect this practice in the name of tradition?
In spite of this discouragement, I still carry the hope that people will do the right thing, that we'll all become shameless protectors of the whales, and for that matter, the ocean. I hope that anyone who hasn't seen the film will make an effort to see it. I hope that this issue doesn't just become another genre of entertainment, because the ocean is real and it's dying every day. I also hope that the Taiji hunt, and all of the other hunts that happen all over the world can be stopped. In another year, I hope I am writing that the Taiji has found a new livelihood in whale tourism and other sources.