Monday, November 10, 2008

Whales Wars-Wagging the Conservation Dog

“WHALE WARS is an epic adventure that looks at the consequences of taking a stand on an issue,” declares Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. “It’s so important that WHALE WARS calls Animal Planet its home. It’s truly compelling television, and it’s entertainment with a conservation message infused to its core.”

Perhaps one of the most chilling departures from the entire 40 year global eco movement was this year when Sea Shepherd traded it's last shred of dignity and credibility for the cameras of Animal Planet and thus began Eco-Edutainment Television-where the message and outright fabrication of events have subsumed the horrors of actual whaling. Where dead whales and story lines are traded with advertisements for SUV's and laundry detergent. This is a meeting of eco media and horror that never should have happened and now that it has will change the landscape of the global eco movement for years to come.

Sea Shepherds anti whaling operation last season was one of unrelenting and breathless press release after press release. Sea Shepherd members were "taken hostage" by evil Japanese whalers. Sea Shepherd members were "harassed", titular head of the organization Paul Watson was "shot in the chest".

The fact is none of this actually happened the way it was portrayed and 90% of it was fabricated for Animal Planet's cameras creating for the first time a hybrid media organization that,truth be told, is becoming more horrific than actual whaling. Even Discovery Networks are backing away from Watsons "attempted assassination claim" realising their exposure to it might have a negative blow back for the network.

The question most credible NGO's are asking themselves these days, what is worse? Killing whales for bogus research, or exploiting the killing of whales for television ratings and eco donations from a well meaning and ill informed public?

Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd, like the Republican Party, are out of fresh ideas, and out of a true game plan to stop whaling in the Antarctic. One might even suggest this is not the real agenda here. It is well known that Watson hates, with a passion reserved only for the mentally unbalanced, his fellow anti whaling rivals Greenpeace. By allowing reality television crews and cameras aboard his vessel Watson creates his own reality and 20 million unwitting viewers go along for the ride not knowing events are not as they seem. Worldwide Sea Shepherd has all but painted itself into a corner, with fewer and fewer countries and ports allowing his brand of hysterical eco activism into their waters.

Sea Shepherd has chosen, in lieu of actual action, to Wag the Conservation Dog. Where this goes from here is any ones guess. What other NGO's should be doing right now is taking a hard stance against for profit reality television shows like Whale Wars. In the final summation will this stop whaling? No, sadly it will not.

Will it cause dollars to flow into Sea Shepherds coffers and away from other NGO's who are doing real conservation work? Sadly yes, it will, and that's the true horror of Wagging the Conservation Dog.
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