The Cove, the Academy Award-winning 2009 documentary that focuses on the slaughtering of dolphins in the Japanese city of Taiji, has caused a more than palpable stir in the past few months. Now, due to the popularity of the film and because of the threat of protests and challenges from Japanese people and groups offended by the film, a screening of the film at US Yakota Air Force Base was halted from taking place.
In an act of defiance against this ruling, the film’s director plans on handing out DVD copies of the film to people on the base so they can see it anyway.
According to this article from the Associated Press,
The U.S. Air Force Yokota Air Base, west of Tokyo, decided last week to cancel the screening at its on-base theater to be “sensitive to local political and cultural concerns,” base spokesperson Mitsuru Takahashi said.
The controversy surrounding the film resulted from the film’s coverage of fishermen’s slaughter of dolphins. Some of the dolphins are selected and sent to aquariums, but the remaining are killed for their meat. The AP article mentions that most of the Japanese public had not been aware of the brutality of the slaughter of the dolphins, and as a result tensions have risen about the film’s coverage.
As someone not familiar with a society that condones eating dolphin meat, this story bothers me. I haven’t seen The Cove, but I want to. In our society, dolphins are generally regarded as cute, playful, and not something to eat. I know that’s a different situation in Japan, but it still bothers me due to how I’ve been conditioned living here.
The Japanese government has every right to get worked up about this, as it exposes something that the Japanese public wasn’t aware of, but I think that’s the mark of great filmmaking. It’s supposed to turn heads, raise eyebrows, and expose things that we might not otherwise realize.
This BBC article, an interview with a former dolphin trainer in Taiji in the 1990’s, shed more light on the conditions surrounding the dolphins’ slaughter…it’s sad, really.
I don’t see this story ending anytime soon, The Cove seems to keep getting more and more popular by the day.