By Dyske March 19th, 2010
The following is a response I received from Laurel Angelica, Content Editor for TakePart.com (owned by Participant Media which produced “The Cove”), who sent me a free copy of “The Cove” to review. (Thank you, Laurel.) This is in response to my criticism of the film last week.
I apologize for being so late in responding. We kindly ask that if you are going to use this, that you reprint it in its entirety. Thank you for taking the time to provide thoughtful analysis of the film, even if you didn’t agree with the subject matter.
The most important point we want to respond to – and it’s the heart of your entire piece – is that this film is NOT meant to be an indictment of the Japanese people. Completely the opposite. We’ve tried to make that clear in the film and in all of our marketing materials. It is very specifically exposing a small group of people – we maintain throughout the film that the greater population is unaware (please refer to the first campaign posts on this issue from seven months ago).
Overall the filmmakers primary assertions are:
We know the first two assertions to be fact. We hope the third will be a reality soon.
To address some of your points:
Western point of view:
Again, most importantly, we are not West vs. East, we are activist vs. inactivist. This is an issue of humanity, not culture. It’s important to note that Earth Island (Ric’s organization) was very influential in drawing attention to US Tuna companies that were capturing large numbers of dolphins in their fishing nets many years ago. Concerned citizens pressured these Tuna companies and changes were made. These companies made major changes in fishing techniques to adopt dolphin safe fishing methods. If they hadn’t, one can only imagine what the current dolphin populations would be (if any). Point being, we are more than happy to shine a light on ourselves and have done so often.
Cows/Chickens vs. Dolphins:
While not all species of dolphins are endangered, many are depleted, vulnerable and few species have been studied in order to assess the impact of killing at current levels. Our organizations are not promoting eating cows or chickens but just in terms of the overall population and methods – cows and chickens can be raised for food. They reproduce in captivity, while dolphins are wild species. Many independent scientific studies have shown that dolphins and other mammals highly evolved and self aware. A dolphin in the cove can take hours to die, in pain and aware of the pain of those in its pod (family). The hunting methods are inordinately cruel, with death times far in excess of any slaughterhouse situations.
Your post is surprisingly absent of any real reference to this. The film makes an important point that the burning of fossil fuels worldwide (not just Japan) has essentially poisoned our Oceans and contaminated much of the food supply, most notably coastal fish populations that are the primary food source for dolphins. As a result, mercury levels in dolphins are exponentially higher. They are not a SAFE source of food – they are toxic in fact. Residents in Taiji are showing that they have 10 times the acceptable level or mercury in their systems.
We absolutely love Japan, respect and believe that we should celebrate each others cultures. But as an evolving species (man), does it make sense to perpetuate a brutal “tradition” that has no real benefit to the greater population?
Thank you again for your time and consideration. We look forward to continuing this dialogue with you, and others in Japan who may have concerns. Ultimately, we just hope that people will see the film, decide for themselves and discuss with others. Ultimately, it’s up to the Japanese people. Not only do we respect that, we have the utmost faith in it.
You might also be interested in this article that went up this week in The Japan Times. It would be interesting to get your thoughts.
Laurel Angelica, Content Editor, TakePart.com