SeaWorld has no ‘Heart’- but Fortunately We Do
UPDATED January 09, 2014:
The silence at SeaWorld is deafening… and getting quieter by the minute.
In the past month, nine musical groups: Barenaked Ladies, Willie Nelson, Heart, Cheap Trick, Trisha Yearwood, REO Speedwagon, Martina McBride, .38 Special and Trace Adkins have cancelled their performances due to the documentary film Blackfish. All were scheduled to appear at SeaWorld Orlando’s concert series “Bands, Brew & BBQ” beginning in February.
The film creating the musical defections centers on the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Debuting earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, this critically acclaimed documentary has brought to light the realities of keeping orcas in captivity to millions of viewers and has reached a fever pitch among families, advocates, celebrities… and yes, music icons.
The recent artist bailouts began as an online petition asked the popular Canadian group Barenaked Ladies to suspend their upcoming performances. They quickly responded:
“We here at Barenaked Ladies have made a decision based on what we feel. It’s not about money, or petitions, or press… But it is about our fans,” the band said. “We listen to them, and they’re important to us.”
Just days later- country music legend Willie Nelson bowed out in what SeaWorld claimed was a “scheduling conflict”. Mr. Nelson quickly refuted that claim: “I don’t agree with the way they treat their animals, so it wasn’t that hard a deal to just cancel” he told Brooke Baldwin in a CNN telephone interview which can be seen below:
“Heart” quickly followed suit tweeting out to their fans (via Nancy Wilson to OfficialHeart):
Update January 22, 2014: The Wilson sisters explain why the band backed out of their SeaWorld gig in this report from Rolling Stone Magazine <HERE>.
(Much more on “Heart” below)
The most recent acts to cancel are Cheap Trick which was scheduled to perform February 8, 2014 according to a representative of the band.
Trisha Yearwood pulled out on December 12 and REO Speedwagon cancelled their gig on December 13 saying “Due to concerns regarding our February 16th appearance at SeaWorld, we have chosen to cancel the performance.”
Martina McBride posted the following to her Facebook page on December 14: “I’ve decided that given all the issues that have been aired recently, the time isn’t right for me to play at Seaworld. I have cancelled my scheduled performance at the Bands, Blues & BBQ event in March 2014.”
.38 Special cancelled on December 16 saying “Due to concerns raised by the CNN documentary ‘Blackfish,’ 38 Special will be canceling its scheduled March 9th concert at Seaworld.”
Although not on the lineup, Joan Jett sent a “cease and desist” order to SeaWorld demanding they stop using her music at the start of killer whale performances:
“I was surprised and upset to see on YouTube SeaWorld used ‘I Love Rock ‘n Roll’ as the opening music for its cruel and abusive ‘Shamu Rocks’ show. I’m among the millions who saw ‘Blackfish’ and am sickened that my music was blasted without my permission at sound-sensitive marine mammals.” ~ Joan Jett.
All of these cancellations (and more likely to follow) also come on the heels of SeaWorld’s announcement to suspend the Shamu Show called “One Ocean” in Orlando from January until April 2014 while maintenance is performed on the main show pool. Sounds like it’ll be a quiet winter at SeaWorld.
And with little factual information to defend their positions on numerous issues, the silence at SeaWorld will likely continue well beyond the performance stage.
Ever since the start of the SeaWorld vs. OSHA hearings, the launch of David Kirby’s book “Death at SeaWorld” and the success of the documentary film “Blackfish” SeaWorld’s public-relations machine has been virtually silenced. They call the book and documentary “inaccurate and misleading” despite being afforded every opportunity to tell their side of the story. SeaWorld declined to be interviewed for both instead opting for stock written statements and personal attacks whenever faced with controversy— in the book, in the documentary, in the news and in public opinion.
But this strategy is probably not a bad idea for SeaWorld. It seems anytime they put forward a talking head representative— what comes out of their mouths is found to be misleading, infuriating, and/or just plain ludicrous. That is likely the reason why they have exercised their “right to remain silent”.
“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”. ~ Abraham Lincoln
And it all started from the get-go on the very day of Dawn Brancheau’s death on February 24, 2010 as SeaWorld President Dan Brown (along with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department) made the initial statements that Dawn “slipped or fell” into the pool. They then rolled out the likes of Chuck Tompkins, head of animal training & Thad Lacinak, former Vice President who spent months unsuccessfully defending SeaWorld’s positions, blaming Dawn for her own death, and perpetuating the “Ponytail Theory” (more on them HERE). Fortunately for truth-seekers, both have been all-but nonexistent the past two years.
With few other representatives willing (or allowed) to speak on behalf of SeaWorld— pro-captivity crony Jack Hanna of the Columbus Zoo was called to the plate as Blackfish premiered on CNN in October. His bumbling rants led him to a lambasting by former supporters online and on his Facebook page. It is unlikely Jungle Jack will be called on again to speak intelligently on cetacean captivity (without some rigorous coaching from SeaWorld).
Even conservative pundit Newt Gingrich called-out SeaWorld saying:
“…as a multi-billion-dollar institution, they owe the country some level of transparency and some level of accountability. And I am disappointed that they’re not here tonight” ~ Newt Gingrich on CNN’s Crossfire with guest Blackfish Associate Producer Tim Zimmermann
SeaWorld is now calling the music cancellations the act of “a small group of misinformed… animal extremists” according to spokesman Nick Gollattscheck. That is a slap in the face to all intelligent, free-thinking individuals who are not willing to conform to SeaWorld’s deceit and verbal attacks… a strategy not recommended by industry insiders. Florida Attraction Association has also launched a vain attempt to rescue their member SeaWorld who is “under attack” and calls supporters of Blackfish “radical extremists”.
We are quite certain that Nancy & Ann Wilson of the iconic musical group “Heart” would also take offense to these categorizations. In a Tweet to The Orca Project, Nancy Wilson told us:
She wasn’t kidding. And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill short documentaries. They are from Michael Harris’ nationally syndicated, Emmy Award-winning 1999 special “Baby Wild Films Presents: The Killer Whale People”.
The three short videos below are informative, heart-wrenching and heart-warming. You’ll learn more about killer whale history, culture and respect in 24 minutes than you would ever gain in a lifetime of visits to a marine park.
We strongly encourage everyone to watch all 3 and then let us know if you believe “Heart” has no heart… or if you’d consider them “misinformed animal extremists”. Our guess… you will instead be left with tears in your eyes and a great new appreciation for wild orcas and for the sisters of ‘Heart’:
Video #1 Orca Stories (9:50)
This is a segment hosted by “Heart’s” Nancy Wilson with original music by seven-time ASCAP Award-winning composer Tim Truman. It features for the first time in a television broadcast the complete restored color 16mm film of the Penn Cove orca roundup of August 1970 in which six presumably Southern Resident orcas were taken, including Lolita, and at least three drowned in the nets. The special also features the first-ever TV interview with diver John Crowe (featured in Blackfish), who worked on the Penn Cove capture and was in charge of secretly disposing the carcasses of the drowned orcas, to avoid them being counted in the “take.”
WARNING: Some scenes and descriptions are not for the faint-of-heart:
Video #2 Storm Boy (7:42)
“Heart’s” Nancy Wilson reads this beautiful, mystical dramatization of Paul Owen Lewis’ award-winning children’s book, “STORM BOY,” about a Chief’s son who gets lost in a storm and finds himself the guest of killer whales in their village under the sea. Features a sweeping, cinematic original score from composer and Executive Producer Tim Truman. Also includes an interview with the author:
Video #3 Baby Wild (6:04)
Host Nancy Wilson of “Heart” and 11-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Harris present this charming campfire recollection of “the funnest day ever,” a day out with wild orcas in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. Features Nancy’s fireside performance of “Baby Wild,” written for the show by Nancy and her Heart sister, Ann, and other “sis,” Sue Ennis:
A special “Heart-felt” THANK YOU to Nancy Wilson, Ann Wilson, Sue Ennis, Michael Harris and all those involved in the making of these videos. Simply amazing!