Harry Styles Condemns SeaWorld, And He's Not The First Celebrity To Speak Out
It's been a rough few years for SeaWorld. The once-ubiquitous aqua park company has come under heavy fire from animal rights groups recently, largely on the back of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which caused a surge in criticism of their captivity practices. And while a recent Credit Suisse review suggested that the damage was beginning to turn around, as detailed by The Guardian, a new celebrity critic has come along that's having a pronounced impact: Harry Styles of One Direction condemned SeaWorld during a show in July, and he's far from the first high-profile figure to speak out.
SeaWorld's position, for the record, is unambiguous — it's repeatedly denounced the film and its criticisms, referring to Blackfish on their "SeaWorld Cares" website as a "film [that] conveys falsehoods, manipulates viewers emotionally and relies on questionable filmmaking techniques to create “facts” that support its point of view."
On the other hand, however, some highly visible people have spoken out about SeaWorld's practices towards its orcas, as well as voicing opposition to the very concept of animal captivity. Here are some of the celebrities and high-profile people who've spoken up about this, and shown a little solidarity with all the cetacaens out there:
1. Ellen Page
Page, like so many of the people who've been publicly critical of SeaWorld, was clearly very moved by Blackfish. Following the film's 2013 release, she tweeted out a pretty straightforward message, and made sure to tag SeaWorld in.
2. Ewan McGregor
McGregor didn't only invoke Blackfish while making his displeasure with SeaWorld known — he also mentioned The Cove, an Oscar-winning 2007 documentary which brought exposure and scrutiny to the practice of mass dolphin killings in the fishing town of Taiji, Japan. As far as cetacaen killing and captivity are concerned, the two films are probably the hardest cinematic one-two punch ever produced.
3. Zach Braff
The former Scrubs star actually tipped off Harry Styles' aforementioned disdain for SeaWorld back in November 2013, when he and the singer were in the early throes of a so-called "bromance."
It's not as though Braff's interest in the film is limited to his friendliness with Styles, however — he'd also urged his followers to DVR it a couple months prior and said it was "haunting" him.
4. Aaron Paul
Paul was yet another prominent actor to voice a great deal of revulsion after seeing the documentary. Initially, he tweeted that it was heartbreakingly sad and that everybody should see it, but months later he followed it up with a scathing tweet directed at SeaWorld.
Obviously, SeaWorld disagree with any characterization of its captive orca population as "slaves." In fact, they were involved in a lawsuit brought by PETA on this very point back in 2012. According to the Huffington Post, PETA's suit was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller, on the grounds that "the only reasonable interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment's plain language is that it applies to persons, and not to non-persons such as orcas."
5. Joakim Noah
Blackfish and the anti-SeaWorld sentiment it fostered obviously had impact within film, TV, and music, but it also got some attention from within the world of sports. As far as blunt statements of disapproval go, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah turned in a pretty good example.
6. Miley Cyrus
Animal rights causes seem to be well-represented among actors, musicians, performers, and the like. The liberal wing of American entertainment, in other words. So it's no surprise to see a marquee pop name like Miley Cyrus on the list — she tweeted out a plea to her millions of followers to watch Blackfish in November 2013, along with the hashtag #befree.
7. Harry Styles
This one's a bit obvious, since he's the most recent (and potentially most damaging) instance of a celebrity to take a public shot at SeaWorld. The actual remark came during a July concert in San Diego, according to The Guardian, and the message was simple enough.
Does anybody like dolphins? Don't go to SeaWorld.
SeaWorld did respond to the comment in an open letter to Styles, inviting him to tour one of its parks, and maintaining that it "care[s] for the animals in our parks like we would our own family." According to the Orlando Sentinel, they never received a reply.