Heads On Sticks & Ventriloquists

The prodigious writings of a tortured genius.

Friday, March 16, 2007

People Who Love Dolphins

Okay, I'm back. I know it's been a month, I just haven't been motivated to write anything. Especially since the weather seemed to be getting nicer. In the last two days, Philadelphia has seen a temperature change of over 50 degrees. I was wearing shorts on Wednesday, it's snowing on Friday. But that's not what this is about. This is about Dolphins. More specifically, people who love Dolphins.

You know what, sure, even I think Dolphins are great. They're cute and smart and you can ride on their backs (they love it! just ask a marine biologist!). They're "benign and innocent beings". So before I write any more, I ask you to watch the brief video below. It is what inspired this post.

Warning: Some of these shots are grusome and bloody.

The video, (narrated by Joaquin Phoenix [who I think is an excellent actor]), is posted by a user named "VeganBryan", so I feel I can rightfully assume he's against the slaughter of any animal; but the video helps illustrate some very interesting American ideas, and it advertises the very sort of Americanization that most culturally-sensitive liberals claim to be against.

So I'm going to say it now: I don't have a big problem with the events that took place in the video above.

I'm not going to get into the politics of animal cruelty/veganism/vegetarianism/free-ranging, but rather the idea of American culture vs. world culture. Hunting, fishing, and raising livestock for the purposes of consumtion are all very large and (mostly) accepted practices in America today. We eat cattle, pork, poultry, fish, and even deer, toad, and fish eggs. We don't, however, eat dolphins.

Dolphins have a friendly appearance; genetics has blessed them with a built-in smile, beautiful shiny skin, and a graceful disposition. The innate cuteness of the dolphin is why so many young men and women aspire to be marine biologists each year. Even though marine biology is the world's most competitive job market, thousands go to college each year so that they can bask in the warm Miami rays and hang onto a dolphin's fin as it pulls them towards the nearest Haitian man making Pina Coladas. This is the reason that the only one of those people that cares a lot about clams too is also the only one to actually get the job.

The reason that I feel so many people have responded negatively to the images in the video are (obviously) because of the violence and (less obviously) because Americans love dolphins and think dolphins are adoooorable. It's because we love good looking things. We love beauty and intelligence and grace. And all of these are dolphin characteristics. So if "delicious" is a separate trait that another culture wants to impart on dolphins, so be it. The violent tactics used to kill those dolphins is no different than the tactics we use in the U.S. to kill farm animals. So if it's the violence against animals you have a problem with, look no further than your own borders. But if you watch the video above, say that you're appalled and demand action, but you also eat meat; you're a hypocrite.

Let's re-watch that video for a second. Pretend, for a moment, that the animals depicted are not dolphins, but instead, each one is a big, writhing, grey squid. Dudes are pulling those ugly motherfuckers out of the sea instead. Mama squid is separated from baby squid. A man starts cutting off their slimy, gross tentacles and cutting their ugly, dumb squid throats.

Now how do you feel? Who gives a shit about a squid, right? Hell, those fishermen could pull the last god damn giant squid out of the ocean and the choir would shout "Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!" This is because squids -- especially giant ones -- are the ugliest, dumbest, scariest things on the entire planet. And that is not American. In fact, I bet this same shit does happen to squids, but no one cares. Not Joaquin Phoenix, not no one.

Which brings me to my final point. That most Americans would not flinch if the squid was hunted to extinction this morning is an indicator of our culture. If there was a video depicting the slaughter of the last ever giant squid during the commerical break on American Idol people would simply be confused or scoff (this is speculation, I know, but bear with me). Switch it to the slaughter of dolphins and you would have people crying and throwing up into their Louis Vuitton handbags.

And the thing is, dolphins aren't even an endangered species. Many of the responses to the video talk about how sickened they are by the hunting of an endangered animal. Dolphins are not endangered. According to the ongoing Endangered Species Act, the only endangered dolphin is the Chinese River Dolphin. And that one is extinct because it can only live in a small freshwater area that is gradually becoming more and more polluted. There are only 13 left in the wild. Which I guess speaks more loudly of mankind. We're a poison. Our intelligence has given us the ability to destroy everything. And again, I don't care. Call me nihilist, but I've accepted that humanity has irreverisbly fucked everything up. That's just how the world works. I'm a happy person. I enjoy my life. But at some point you have to realize that the true state of the universe is that everything must always be fucked up.

Some people like to eat fish, some people like to cows, some people like to eat pigs, some people like to eat people, and guess what, some people like to eat dolphins. Yes, hunting is a grusome venture, but no more violent than if a shark were to attack those dolphins. No more violent than a lion pounging on a gazelle. Or a cougar and a rabbit, etc etc etc. As long as man as lived he has hunted. So you can either have a problem with the act of hunting itself or accept that anything can be hunted.

Maybe I'll try dolphin sometime.

"Don't kill me, I'm cute!"

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At 11:05 AM GMT-5, Blogger Jon said...

I couldn't agree more.


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