I had never seen The Cove before this class; I had always passed it by, thinking it some sort of generic chick-flick or romance film that took place near the ocean.
I will say that I’m torn on the subject of the film: on one hand, I agree with the film-makers that the seemingly senseless slaughter of a species needs to be stopped; on the other hand, I also understand that people need to make a living, and that this annual whaling hunt has been occurring since the 17th century – it’s a tradition. And while not all traditions need to be kept – there’s a reason modernization exists – I find myself on the fence about how to react. The dolphin meat has been proven to have high levels of mercury, and was taken out of school lunches, but meanwhile how extensively has it been researched? If consuming dolphin meat has been specific to Taiji for several centuries, perhaps it’s not as bad for residents of Taiji versus the rest of Japan (and before people get in an uproar about the idea, I’m mostly considering the idea that perhaps their bodies have adapted over the years to withstanding greater levels of mercury, like how some people living at higher altitudes have adapted to lower oxygen levels).
I feel like cultural differences need to be taken into consideration as well. For instance, the film crew noted the “irony” of Taiji having whale and dolphin imagery everywhere, when they were killing several hundred or thousand annually; we may have found this behavior contradictory, but it’s not entirely odd for a culture to celebrate something – from flora to fauna – that has given them a steady livelihood for a lengthy amount of time. If the dolphins are being killed because it affects the livelihood of the people of Taiji – provides a means of living as well as potentially aiding in maintaining the fish population with less dolphins – then perhaps alternative means of subsistence needs to be considered? When a nation’s primary foodsource is the sea, and they go through with these killings because they feel dolphins threaten the amount of fish available for human consumption, perhaps proposing alternatives for the fishermen of Taiji would be better than trying to sabotage their work?
The above is probably a little jumbled, but I feel like the film-makers might have vilified the people of Taiji in order to better get an emotional response out of the viewers. I am all for animal conservation. I am also for people being able to make a living, and ensure their family is comfortable. But I’m against guerilla-style activism (after all, that’s how the zombie apocalypse started) and animal slaughter, and feel like there is some sort of balance that needs to be found that was absent in the film.