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Rhetorical Analysis of Blackfish

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Kemiah Blanton

on 25 April 2014

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Transcript of Rhetorical Analysis of Blackfish

Targeted audience
The main target audience was Seaworld. Gabriela attacks them directly by mentioning and referring to them multiple times in the film

Others were people that visited Seaworld and people who heard about the fatal killer whale incidents
The documentary is filmed mostly in participatory form where the speakers acknowledge the existence of the camera and speak directly to the audience . Many of these being expert testimonies and personal anecdotes.

The anecdotes of the colleagues of Dawn Brancheau (a trainer killed by a killer whale) established ethos as well as pathos because these were people that witnessed the attack and the audience could connect by vicariously experiencing the event.

In order to convince the audience to agree with the assertion of the film, the director integrates actual footage from an attack with witnesses' testimony.
This also furthers an appeal to pathos because it makes the audience feel connected to the incident.
Rhetorical Analysis of Blackfish
The assertion
Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite asserts in the documentary Blackfish (2013) is that keeping killer whales in captivity is inhumane and dangerous for the whales themselves and to humans.
In the intro of the documentary, groups and families of killer whales are shown in the wild as peaceful ad graceful animals. This indirectly gives the audience the impression that killer whales are normally peaceful animals.
This is crucial for the audience because if they do not believe killer whales are normally peaceful, the whole argument fails.
The appeal to pathos in the film is directed at sympathy for the killer whales. The argument is that since they are normally peaceful in the wild and they only attack while in captivity, captivity for killer whales is wrong and dangerous. The argument is supported by the detailed facts about how the whales are to an extent, tortured and become agigated with no outlet.

The most effective appeal to ethos in the film is through the testimony of previous Orca trainers at Sea World. This makes the audience trust what they have to say about the correlation of captivity and aggression in killer whales.
Appeal to logos in inductive reasoning
The whales are trapped in small pools, they are constantly fighting with each other in the living areas and being bitten by each other and they are deprived of food when they do not learn a trick fast enough or do it correctly so therefore, being in captivity makes the whales psychotic and ready to kill
The film's use of logical fallacies and elements of rhetoric were successful in the task of getting the main idea across to the audience.
The intended purpose was to get the audience to no longer support establishments like Sea World and to understand what captivity does to killer whales
Logical fallacies
Hasty Generalization: since Tilikum the killer whale was in captivity and he killed people, all whales in captivation will kill people
Either/or: We can either stop putting whales in captivity or have more people killed by them
Kemiah Blanton
Full transcript