Movie Review: Blackfish (2013)

30 07 2014

BLACKFISH
2013

Magnolia Pictures / CNN Films

 

 

 

 

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite takes no prisoners in her examination of Americans’ fascination with wildlife, perverted into an industry of animals-as-entertainment. The nation’s greatest offender? Sea World, according to Cowperthwaite.

At once beautiful and tragic, BLACKFISH pulls back the curtain on the industry built on trick shows and ‘swim with’ gimmicks. The concept that a several thousand pound marine mammal could/would revert to basic animalistic defense behaviors against their handlers “friends” seems shocking to those in the trade, something that is disturbing on a whole new level as a viewer.

“This culture of ‘get back on the horse’ and you dive back in the water, and if you’re hurt, well then ‘weve got other people that will replace you’ and ‘you came a long way are you sure you want that?’”   (John Jett, PhD – Former trainer at Sea World)

BLACKFISH chronicles an established, savage 1970s practice of kidnapping infant whales from their pods; barbarically housing, training and inseminating them; and maliciously twisting science to fit their profit-driven agenda. In short, BLACKFISH manages to strip any forethought that marine-parks are working in conjunction with conservation and/or research efforts.
Cowperthwaite interviews over a dozen former Sea World trainers, all of whom became disillusioned with the organization. A contributing factor for many was the consistent practice of covering up incidents of animal (specifically orca) aggression and spinning “trainer error” to the concerned public. They now, collectively, feel bad for all of the whales— knowing what they know and having seen what they saw.

Cowperthwaite, who has produced and directed for over a decade, was inspired to make this movie after the highly-publicized attack on veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau at Sea World Orlando in February of 2010.
Brancheau, you may recall, was pulled into a large performance pool by Tilikum, a 12,000 pound bull orca. While the Sea World company higher-ups insisted that Brancheau was at fault for the incident (alleging that her having touched fish then her long pony-tail, confused the animal), witnesses know that the 22.5 foot long mammal targeted her.
It would become public knowledge that the animal had been involved in responsible for two deaths previously; the first, in 1991, at the now defunct Sea Land of the Pacific in British Columbia,  20-year-old swimming star and amateur trainer, Keltie Byrne was killed by drowning (three whales held her under, tossing her back and forth); and another, in 1999, a defiant park-goer sneaked into Tilly’s tank overnight— Daniel Dukes was found naked and mutilated, slung across the whale’s back the next morning. [*This incident is highly suspicious, as the PR explanation is vastly different from the medical examiner’s findings. There are cameras every which way at Sea World, and at least 4 night trainers were on duty at the time of the attack— no one saw or heard anything.]

“It didn’t ‘just happen,’ it’s not a singular event. You have to go back to understand this.” (Dave Duffus, Researcher/Expert witness for OSHA case against Sea World)

Researchers have found that orcas have a part of the brain that humans do not, it is called the paralimbic cleft. The inference of this discovery, based upon it’s location and application as compared to known chemistry/functions, is that orcas have highly elaborate emotional lives and social complexities, in which their sense of self is inherently tied to their community (ex: mass stranding, the pod will not abandon a beached whale).  This information makes Sea World, their less-respectable Canary Islands affiliate Loro Parque, and facilities like them seem so cruel!
Former Sea World trainers who spoke with Cowperthwaite stated that on several occasions when a calf (infant/child aged orca) was separated from it’s parent, the mother whale would vocalize her grief and anxiety with seering cries and long-range sounds that were unlike anything the staff had ever heard from one of the marine beasts.

Another egregious falsehood being perpetuated by Sea World regards the quality of life and the lifespan of orcas.  Several segments of film are included in BLACKFISH showing trainers and park support staff spouting off facts for an audience; the most blatant lie of which is that orcas in captivity live twice as long as in nature. In fact, whales free in the ocean have been tracked to live 50-80 years (depending on sex). The majority of captive whales die by the time they’re 35.
A hot-button issue in the community is that of dorsal fin collapse; 100% of male whales in captivity have a slumped over dorsal fin, whereas 1% of wild ones are afflicted with the condition. This issue is addressed by Sea World park staffers filmed in the documentary, each of which says that ‘it’s just something that happens,’ although plenty of data exists as to why. (See a scientific article HERE, or videos HERE.)

Several experts featured in BLACKFISH theorize that Tilikum developed a kind of psychosis from his treatment in captivity— from being ripped from the wild at the age of 2; being deprived of food to illicit specific (show) behaviors; being isolated in too small, dark pens; and being rejected by the forced family unit (despite his gargantuan size, he was ganged up on by female whales that would grate their teeth across his skin and ram into bully him).

A thoughtfully written and thoroughly researched NatGeo article on Tilikum, and his far less belligerent, but equally famous “twin,” can be found HERE.

Terrifying incidents are recounted by Cowperthwaite’s panel of former trainers, and in some cases shown with archival video. Among them: 1987 – John Sillick, 26, is crushed between two whales during a show at Sea World San Diego; 2002 – a trainer named Tamarie was thrashed by a whale called Orkid, eventually she rose from the pool waterlogged with a compound fracture to her arm; 2006 – senior trainer Ken Peters was dragged about the show pool, down to the bottom, by 6,000 pound Kasatka. The animal continued to charge him after he fled over a float net and struggled to stand on his mangled feet/ankles.

“…[Dawn] had so much experience. It made me realize what happened to her, really could’ve happened to anyone.”   (Kim Ashdown, resigned as a Sea World trainer one year before Brancheau’s accident)

 

Something particularly eery and jarring for me during this film was the 911 recording played at the beginning. The caller, a man, is incredibly calm while describing to the operator that a Sea World trainer had been “eaten by one of the whales.”  Given the later information, from a paramedic’s testimony, that she was essentially scalped and had an arm ripped off (and a lack of blood shed indicated her heart had already stopped beating when the injuries were inflicted)— a gruesome picture of Brancheau’s death is painted.
BLACKFISH accomplishes for the patronage of wildlife exhibits and water-based amusement parks, what SUPER SIZE ME did for the fast-food industry and WAITING FOR SUPERMAN did for the nation’s broken education system. Certainly it will not eliminate the business, but it is sure to drive people into a tizzy for some time to come.

**  UPDATE:  Initially Sea World claimed that this remarkable and necessarily unsettling documentary had, and would have, ‘no effect’ on their business, yadda yadda, and they would continue their work for ‘research’ and ‘conservation.’ But I’m pleased to report that the organization has in fact suffered a 13% decrease in revenue/attendance in the first quarter of this year.  **

 





On My Radar

29 05 2012

Here’s a recap of some things I have been following/thinking about lately:

1.  Amanda Bynes is a HOT MESS. 

Amanda Bynes, 2008 SAG Awards

In 6 weeks time the former Nickelodeon darling has gotten a DUI and been involved in (by my count) four fenderbenders — the first of which had her sideswiping an LAPD patrol car.

Bynes, 26, has worked consistently as a comedic actor since childhood. First featuring on Nickelodeon’s Saturday night program All That, an SNL-like variety show for the tween set, before starring alongside Jennie Garth in the fan-favorite What I Like About You in 2002. Bynes was last seen on the big screen in Easy A (2010) and Hairspray (2007).

Until recently, Bynes seemed to be humble and healthy. I’m thoroughly surprised at her antics; they certainly feel more fallen-Disney-star (*cough*LiLo!*cough*) than disgraced Nick star (*cough*JamieLynn!*cough*).  I hope she pulls herself together, because I know she can continue into adulthood and be just as funny and just as successful as before.

I think it’s time for someone to ‘Ask Ashley’ about a 5-step program.

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2.  John Edwards is (still) a douche.

The disgraced politico and one-time presidential hopeful has done little to change his image, or himself. In all fairness though, theres not much he could do.  You cheat on your cancer-stricken wife and have an illegitimate child with the bimbo, you get a special seat in Hell.

His trial has concluded, and (literally) the jury’s still out as to whether he violated federal law by using campaign funds to cover-up his affair with videographer Rielle Hunter.

I am STUNNED that his daughter Kate has been at his side throughout the trial, much like she was by her mother’s side as she was DYING. I am not part of their family, and want to refrain from being too judgemental, but WHAT’S UP WITH THAAAT?!!  She’s an adult. She should be able to look at the situation objectively and say “He’s still my dad… but he’s also a douche.”  He isn’t looking out for ANYONE but himself, so don’t get too wide-eyed at the possibility that if he is acquitted, he will live the rest of his life trying to atone for his flaws. He won’t.

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3. Movies whose announced release dates have been moved back — This is never good!

G.I… Just Kidding

It was announced just days ago that GI Joe: Retaliation will not hit theaters June 29 as planned. They apparently decided to delay the premiere in order to apply a 3D treatment, ya know, so they can squeeze more money out of us. 

I think two things occurred to Paramount execs a little too late; they realized that the first one wasn’t great and they were going to be EMBARASSED by the continued success of The Avengers.  Also, they would have had two Tatum flicks pitted against eachother: GI Joe Retaliation and the testosterone-rich ensemble film Magic Mike.

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4.  Ted Kaczynski lists convictions/sentences as achievements on Harvard Class of 1962 alumni newsletter.

I read a couple articles about this:  I chuckled to myself then I wondered for a second why it was news, before remembering how stupid and touchy people are. I think the reunion committee took the harder of two options; someone (probably a liberal) would have objected to Kaczynski’s total omission from all things related to the Class of ’62 reunion, but I’m guessing now we know that MORE PEOPLE object to the mockery being made of their own successes by listing his legal tribulations amongst their MDs, PhDs and the like.  Either way, he’s still in prison and they’re all presumably quite rich… Let’s focus on that instead.

A mildly-related item: I immediately was reminded of a CLASSIC Will Ferrell skit on SNL in which The Unabomber attended his class reunion. I still pee my pants a little, even having seen it dozens of times. ENJOY!

 http://ahref=

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5.  Phil Phillips wins American Idol! 

Phillip Phillips, 21, of Georgia, wins Season 11 of FOX reality competition AMERICAN IDOL

Season 11 closed out with a high and a low; record-breaking numbers of votes and viewers. 132 million votes were logged between the finalists, but Nielsen Soundscan reports that this was the least watched conclusion of any AI competition season (nearly 8 million fewer than last year).

My brother and I liked Phil from the beginning. HOWEVER, I told my brother I would not cast a single vote for him until he performed a Dave Matthews song. (Which he finally did when he made the Top 6!)

I love that he never picked big numbers to get votes; he was always authentic and original. I have described his voice to non-Idol-watching friends as “if Dave Matthews, John Mayer and Tom Waits had a vocal lovechild.”   He’s hot. That’s all there is to it!

Runner-up Jessica Sanchez, a 16-year-old powerhouse from the San Diego area, was no slouch. I cannot and will not deny she is a great talent. BUT I also cannot and will not deny that she lacked personality. Singing a big song is only part of being in that business, and she just needs to live a little more life before she can top the charts.

I’m also glad Phillips won because I never felt that Sanchez should have been allowed to compete. Her Wikipedia page lists a number of accomplishments and professional opportunities earned before her Idol audition. The format of the show has evolved so much since season 1, but I know you cannot have had a record deal prior to auditioning. (Carly Smithson of season 7 was controversial for being in violation of that rule.)  Sanchez was featured on two major recordings, which from a technical standpoint I guess doesn’t violate the eligibility requirements, but it doesn’t seem fair. She’s got a lot of famous fans, and thanks to the show she’s had more exposure, so I don’t doubt that she will get a deal regardless of taking 2nd place. But who’s to say she wouldn’t have gotten the deal anyway? And if she hadn’t made the Top 24, would Phillips still have won?  I guess I’m glad they let her through, because ultimately she didn’t win.

But still, what kind of pop-culture consumer would I be if I didn’t obsess over people I don’t know and speculate on things that didn’t happen?





Grammy Breakdown (FULL)

14 02 2012

In Brief:  3.5 hours, 17 performances, 9 awards.  6 Whitney comments, 2 Whitney clips, 1 Whitney song tribute.

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards aired last night on CBS, hosted by musician/actor LL Cool J.  He did little more than introduce the presenters.

Fan favorite Bruce Springsteen, accompanied by the E Street Band, opened with “We Take Care of Our Own.”  They played tight, it was a good note to begin the show on…   Well, it was until LL Cool J brought everybody back down by immediately starting in about Whitney Houston.

The second performance of the night was nominee Bruno Mars and his Doo-Wop Hooligans.  The best part of his appearance was when he said for everyone “to get off your rich asses!”
The Grammys are known as the informal awards show of the season, anything can happen. Mars is quickly making a name for himself as an innovative and exciting artist, but this performance was predictable! The flashing lights, kitchy gold outfits and throwback choreography will not land the hooligans on top of any memorable lists for this year.

Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt — an interesting duo — shared the stage briefly to pay tribute to two fallen female icons, Etta James & Whitney Houston, with a rendition of “Sunday Kind of Love.”  The pair lead in to the first award of the night: Best Pop Solo, which ultimately went to Adele for “Someone Like You,” her second smash single off 21. The other contenders for this category included Lady Gaga for “You and I,” Bruno Mars for the uber popular “Grenade,” Katy Perry for “Firework,” and P!NK, who was not in attendance, for “F**kin’ Perfect.”

Chris Brown took the stage for the fourth performance of the evening, if you can call it that.  The beleagured wannabe-Michael Jackson was TOTALLY LIPSYNCHING.   My brother (14) was watching with me, and as soon as Brown was introduced he said, “Oh, the Beater.”  No doubt similar sentiments echoed from homes across the viewing nation.

Fergie, who was dressed in one of her tackiest ensembles yet,  took the stage with an underenthused Marc Anthony to present the second trophy of the night, for Best Rap Album.
I can’t believe I’m saying this but, luckily the award went to Kanye West for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and he was not in attendance. Therefore we were not subjected to an idiotic acceptance speech riddled with reminders of his self-assured genius and the gift that it is for us to get to listen to him.

 

One of the highlights of the evening, for me, came in the form of Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean reprising their duet single “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”  Aldean always wears a hat that covers half his faaaace! Clarkson was dressed well in a black Grecian gown, accented with sparkly bondage straps.  These two have sung together several times now, and it only gets better!

Then… the moment my brother and I had been waiting for!
THE FOOOOOOOO ❤
Jack Black rambled on about indie cred, how often it’s lost by attending/being honored at the Grammys, and something about the artistry being stolen at the door only to be “sold out back to Bon Iver.”
Under a cloudy LA evening, the tent outside the Staples Center was packed with people eager to have their faces rocked off, something the Foo Fighters always deliver on.  They played “Walk” off thier latest record, Wasting Light.

The second pairing of the night came in the form of a three-song medley from Rihanna and Coldplay.  Rihanna opened with “We Found Love,” surrounded by about two dozen dancers in various levels of undress. Then Chris Martin appeared, and the two sang their duet “Princess of China,”  before Martin finally broke off with the rest of his London mates for “Paradise.”

The third golden gramophone of the night went to the Foo Fighters for “Walk.”  Frontman and founder Dave Grohl gave the speech for their Best Rock Performance win; he was well spoken and topically appropriate. That’s so important– and obviously it was appreciated by the crowd because he got a standing ovation!

The only appearance talked about as much as, but not more than, Adele’s comeback was the 50 Year Reunion of the Beach Boys– which also featured Maroon 5 and Foster the People.  It was low energy and failed to evoke any rich feeling of nostalgia due to the steady 20-something average age of the noms.  Additionally, the remaining Beach Boys who appeared were dressed for BINGO, not a CELEBRATION.

16-time Grammy recipient Stevie Wonder introduced another oldie-but-goodie performer: Sir Paul McCartney. Accompanying the former Beatle on his new single “My Valentine” was legendary Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh (upon seeing whom my brother squealed like a 10-year-old girl does at Justin Bieber) and pianist Diana Krall.

The fourth and arguably most controversial award of the night, for Best R&B Album, went to Chris Brown.
Up against R. Kelly, El DeBarge, Ledisi and Kelly Price, the kid we sometimes hate to love but always love to hate feigned graciousness and stumbled through his thank-yous.
Personally, I deleted any songs of his I had the day news broke of his violence toward then-girlfriend Rihanna… which was two years ago almost to the day of this ceremony. I think it is BULLSHIT that the Recording Academy or the voting audience award this spoiled petulant child with ANYTHING. He has done less than nothing to make strides to redeem himself. He constantly seeks attention in negative ways and refuses to publically take any formal responsibility for what he did.   If I were Neil Portnow, I would have banned him for life.

The tenth performer of the night was usual award show darling, Miss Taylor Swift. She sang “Mean” off her hugely successful Speak Now album.  (The single that won praise in the Best Country Solo* and Best Country Song categories.)
I love her, she is a brilliant lyricist, but I am a little tired of her for two reasons; 1) OMG. If you’ve always wanted to be a country star, DO NOT try to manipulate the markets and release TWO versions of your songs. If you’re good enough to crossover, you will! Shania and Faith never did thaaaat;  2) When you finish singing and everyone stands up to clap, wipe that stupid doe-y surprised look off your face! Staying humble is one thing, and good for you for knowing how lucky  you are… but after all the money and attention and awards, you know we like you. Say “thanks” and wave like everyone else who’s happy to be there.

*This arguably should have gone to Carrie Underwood for “Mama’s Song” which was a stunningly beautiful track.

One of the biggies, Song of the Year, was awarded next, and went to Adele! “Rolling In The Deep” was everywhere this year, and she was genuinely moved by the response to it.  When you can tell the artist is really grateful, it makes it all the more fun to watch. I never liked seeing someone who thought they deserved to win something, win it.

A blue-haired Katy Perry broke it down with a high-flying performance of “Extra Terrestrial” …which lead into the debut of another number: “Part Of Me.”  Girlfriend looked PISSED the whole time, but it is defnitely going to be a smash. She may not be the best singer out there, but she is a great entertainer who is honest with her work.

Shifting genres from the pop performance by Perry, attention was paid to a country trio Lady Antebellum, who won for Best Country Album (Own The Night).  I don’t like them, they’re stuff is kind of catchy but nothing super special.

ADELE FINALLY TOOK THE STAGE AFTER BOUNCING BACK FROM THROAT SURGERY THIS FALL.

SHE GAVE AN AMAZING PERFORMANCE OF “ROLLING IN THE DEEP” AND WAS JUST BEAMING THE WHOLE TIME!
NO WONDER EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER LOVES HER.

It was a hard act to follow but somebody had to do it, it was only 10:0 after all.

The Band Perry and Blake Shelton paid tribute to Lifetime Achievement recipient Glen Campbell, before he joined them onstage for a joyful rendition of the classic “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

Another country star came out with the incomprable Tony Bennett for a version of “It Had to Be You” — currently featured on his album Duets II.
They then gave out the award for Best New Artist: which did NOT go to Nicki Minaj! HA HA HA!  The incredibly deep indie rocker Bon Iver took the prize.  He thanked the fans, saying it was a “sweet hookup.”

The highly anticipated ‘In Memorium’ segment of the show was extensive, eliciting “Wow, a lot of people died this year,” from my brother. “I don’t like Jennifer Hudson,” he added before running downstairs for a drink.

The one-time American Idol contestant and longtime Whitney Houston admirer tearfully made her way through “I Will Always Love You.”

So as not to disrespect the somberness of the main hall, the commercial break resumed back outdoors in the tent where the Foo Fighters performed earlier.
The “Grammy Dance Party” of sorts commenced– with Chris Brown lookin like early Run DMC/Ice-T/Sir Mix-a-Lot. It was ridiculous. And he most certainly was using AutoTune in his mic. DJ David Guetta spun for the first part of the ‘party,’ while Brown sing-talked and danced alongside rapper Lil Wayne who looked like he just woke up and rolled of his tour bus.

On the opposite side of the tent, the Foo Fighters started in with “Rope.”  With Deadmau5′ help it got a remix treatment about halfway through.

Things got to an all-time low level of weird with a short play acted out by Nicki Minaj. “The Exorcism of Roman” was such a mess. Minaj was trying way to hard to be memorable, and now she will be for the wrong reasons.  I think the she-rapper was going for some Lady Gaga “Paparazzi”-level performance art, but there was just so much going on and you couldn’t totally understand her. And the blatant religious imagery that wasn’t really defined as good or bad in the scene, would make Sinead O’Connor ask “What the hell do you think you’re doing here?”

The final two award categories to be televised, as there are over two dozen actually given out, were Record of the Year and Album of the Year… which both went to ADELE.
The beautiful Brit was so gracious and cute and in awe of the response to her work, she cried as she told the audience “It’s been a life changing year.”

The finale was, in no uncertain terms, an Epic. Musical. Moment.  For the men on stage, for the viewers in the theater, and fans watching from home.
Sir Paul McCartney reemerged on the grand stage to (appropriately) play the Beatles “The End” with the help of Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen.  Yeah, I’m serious. It was a freaking fantastic way to end the night, with all these incredible musicians jamming out.





Say What You Will About Tim Tebow…

24 01 2012

…but the guy is good people.

I haven’t seen the ESPN documentary yet, but the CNN write up was all I needed to be convinced of his potential iconicism.  Leading the Broncos (8-8) to the playoffs, after a 6-game winning streak from Weeks 9-14, didn’t hurt either.

 
The kicker of Steve Almasy’s article hits you right in the heart:
    One of the things Tebow does to stay grounded is to host a child from the Make-a-Wish foundation every week. He meets with his guest before each game and take him or her on the field. After the contest — win or lose — they hang out, talk and cut up.
     You know, to give the kid some hope.

 

 I went to college for journalism, so I know a thing or two about how media outlets are supposed to print/broadcast the truth.   But I also have a brain, which has a tendency to be skeptical, so I don’t believe everything I read.

I did a little digging on the above statement and found out the Heisman winner is more in demand right now than Mickey Mouse.  So much so that 8 months ago Tebow’s inner circle formed it’s own charitible organization, Wish 15, to work in conjuncture with Florida’s own “Dreams Come True” foundation, based in Jacksonville — Tebow’s hometown — Wish 15 facilitates the meetings of terminally ill children with the QB.

Tebow has said, “I am always humbled and honored that there are children whose wish is to spend time with me. I always walk away confident that I am the one who was blessed to be around such strong and courageous children.”

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Related content:
Make a… Whoops.

New York Times Q&A

DWTS Alum Smirnoff Wants to Draft Tebow for Next Season





MTV Is Not The Enemy

23 01 2011

Lately it seems that every time there is a spike in this or that small town’s teen pregnancy rate, the finger is pointed at MTV– instead of the poor quality of this nation’s sexual education program’s.

With the Gloucester, MA “Pregnancy Pact” not yet out of memory, CNN covers a story out of Memphis, TN in which 90 students at Frayser High have (or are about to) become parents.

On the heels of the Frayser story came a sparkling gem of insight from Kim Kardashian’s personal blog, “…shows like ‘Teen Mom’ are all of a sudden making teen pregnancy seem cool in the eyes of young girls. The kids from these shows are all over the news, even on the covers of magazines, and have become almost like celebrities, but girls, these are not people you should idolize!”

Amber Portwood, whose story has been featured on both “16 & Pregnant” and [it’s spin-off] “Teen Mom,” beat me to the punch with her response to this glaring hypocrisy.  “She [Kardashian] made a sex tape when she was younger and she wants to bash the girls on ‘Teen Mom’?” Portwood told E! News.



The statistics on teen pregnancy available through the CDC and The Candie’s Foundation websites are startling, and sort of indisputable, but as a viewer of the MTV programming in question- I can attest to the lessons learned from watching harsh realities that all of the girls are living.

Although the evidence suggests the rate of live births to women under 19 are the highest they’ve been in a decade, I have a hard time believing that any teenage girl- regardless of maturity, economical status, and family history- would want to live the lives of the “Teen Mom’s”: Maci, Farrah, Catelynn, and Amber or Leah, Kailyn, Chelsea and Jenelle.
I tune in (guiltily) each week and no matter how it sounds- I am thankful for what I have, and what I don’t. Whatever happened to me that day that may have been stressful or expensive, is not nearly as difficult to face as what these girls have done to themselves. 

Is there entertainment value to the trials and tribulations of teen motherhood as shown by MTV? Of course. They wouldn’t bother filming if there weren’t 2.5million people watching every week!
I totally realize and acknowledge that there are tricks and bending of truths to any reality show, but “Teen Mom” isn’t “The Hills”- you can’t really script a story for these girls to follow. They’re a little busy with their babies to fake custody issues and near poverty!

I commend MTV for opening the eyes of the ever younger sexually active America, and for encouraging them to educate themselves- as it is clear that our schools and (many) parents cannot or will not.
Their decision to pair up with longtime host of “Love Line” and established practicioner Dr. Drew Pinsky was a stroke of genius. He is medically knowledgable, compassionate, and understanding of the contemporary social climate.





Zahra Baker

15 11 2010

I have been following the case of Zahra Baker, who has been missing from Hickory, NC since October 9, from the first night Nancy Grace spoke of the freckle-faced girl.

Reports surfaced last Thursday that remains, likely Zahra’s, were found near a creek in Caldwell County.  At a press conference Friday, Hickory’s Cheif of Police Tom Adkins said that DNA from the bone found on Christie Road matched that of the ten-year-old.  Further analysis of physical evidence will be done by the  medical examiner in Chapel Hill.

The devastating announcement coincides with the arrival of Zahra’s birthmother, Emily Dietrich, from Austrailia.

The Hickory community, as well as the country, have been anxiously awaiting the outcome of this case, and the law enforcement enlisted to find Zahra are not immune to the emotional toll of the search for a missing child. Police Chief Tom Adkins said Tuesday, “Thirty-nine days ago, most of us did not know Zahra Baker. But over more than a month, we have all fallen in love with her and become better people because of her.”

Zahra’s father, Adam Troy Baker, was recently arrested on unrelated charges of assault and writing worthless checks.  He was cooperative in the early stages of the search, but the shadow of suspicion has already been cast.  Baker’s wife, Elisa, remains jailed on similar charges, as well as an indictment for obsturuction- for her part in misleading authorities (by making a false ransom note) after the initial missing person report.

Zarah Clare Baker (File photo: Assoc. Press)

After overcoming two forms of childhood cancer, bone and lung, beginning at age 5, it makes me sick to my stomach to think that her life was lost at the hands of her own parents.

I upsets me even more that for the few months that leads are hot and the community is outraged media outlets shove these tragedies in our faces every morning in the headlines and every evening on television, but what happens now? Will we get to hear about the progression of Zahra’s investigation and hopefully the trial of her assailants?

I know that cases go cold and sometimes there aren’t happy endings- but I also know that I can’t be the only person in the country wondering about Kyron Horman, Stacy Peterson, Brittnee Drexel, and Gabriel Johnson.

Unless you have an RSS Feed for all the local news outlets from each town where a child goes missing, woman is murdered, or tragedy occurrs you might forget about them- and thats the worst thing we can do.





Oh yeah, Those Chilean Miners are Finally Free.

20 10 2010

I just did a Google search for “FoxNews Chile Miner Rescue” which took .20 seconds and yielded 104,000 results. Four of the Top 5 results, were in reference to ratings about coverage rather than actual coverage of the feat.

Last Wednesday, after 70 days trapped underground, all 33 Chilean miners were rescued.

Just days later, there is more attention being paid to the channels who broadcast the story (FoxNews, CNN, and MSNBC) than the volunteers who helped shape it’s outcome.

I have a problem with this.  I feel as though the reporters are eclipsing the report.

Boston.com/Getty Images