In an effort to expose the horrors of what goes on at SeaWorld, a documentary called Blackfish has created quite a stir in the media recently. Since being shown on CNN in November, the documentary has become more mainstream, and as a result, REO Speedwagon, in addition to several other musicians, have recently cancelled their shows at SeaWorld.
The Blackfish documentary has created a huge backlash against the Orlando theme park, and several celebrities have made a point to avoid SeaWorld since then. A big event that was scheduled at SeaWorld, a concert series called "Bands, BBQ and Brew" had a number of well-known bands signed on to the lineup including REO Speedwagon and several others.
A handful of the groups have already dropped out, but several still remain. People who have seen Blackfish, and fans of the bands continue to put pressure on the musical groups, urging them not to play at SeaWorld.
— TRACEY ALISON (@TRACEYALISON1) December 14, 2013
The story of SeaWorld's inhumane treatment of the whales that are kept there have been given notice more in the past year, and after the documentary came out, it has been covered on RealTime With Bill Maher, CNN, and several other news outlets, in addition to being called one of the best documentaries of the year.
Each of the musicians that are scheduled to play during the series have received pressure from fans who started online petitions, tweeted and posted on Facebook pages in order to urge them not to play during the concert series.
— Stephanie Wireman (@ssam1770) December 14, 2013
The film tells the story of the death of a SeaWorld trainer by an orca whale in 2010, and also raises questions about the safety and inhumane practices that are used with the whales while in captivity.
The band announced the news of their cancellation via their FB page with this post.
After receiving pressure from fans, and in some cases simply seeing the film for themselves, the bands continue to cancel performances one at a time. REO Speedwagon becomes the 6th musical act to cancel their performance after Barenaked Ladies set the precedent. In addition, Heart, Cheap Trick, Williie Nelson, and Trisha Yearwood have all cancelled their performances at the once beloved theme park for families. Barenaked Ladies became the first act to cancel after seeing a petition on Change.org, showing the power that citizens have in making a change if they wish to do so.
In addition to the several groups that have cancelled their musical performances, Joan Jett has even personally written to SeaWorld, demanding that they quit playing her hit song "I Love Rock And Roll" during their "Shamu Rocks Show." She was surprised and upset to see her song being used on Youtube, and wrote a letter which included the statement "I'm among the millions who saw 'Blackfish' and am sickened that my music was blasted without my permission at sound-sensitive marine mammals."
The female rocker went even further when saying that if they did not understand her in writing then "I will be forced to take further action, and you'll find me among the PETA protesters outside your parks."
It is not often that a single documentary can create such a backlash for a business, but Blackfish has certainly done that for SeaWorld, and director Gabriela Cowperthwaite is thankful for the reactions that she has seen from people after seeing the film.
REO Speedwagon is the latest musical act to cancel their show, but will certainly not be the last, with more bands still on the targeted list for fans to put pressure on. As bands continue to cancel their gigs, will a complete boycott of the them park be in the near future?
Several celebrities have tweeted to all of their followers addressing the issue, and telling everyone to go see Blackfish, along with a hopeful boycott of the theme park.
— hayden panettiere (@haydenpanettier) July 25, 2013
Blackfish is such a well made doc, and so powerful. Rent it on iTunes. And let's all boycott Seaworld together. Shame on them. #Blackfish
— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) November 17, 2013
— Maryann (@Active4Oceans) October 31, 2013
Image via Wikimedia Commons