Sunday, June 6, 2010

"The Cove" falls victim to political correctness in Japan

Let me preface my very brief commentary by pointing out that I use the term "political correctness" differently than how it is typically used here in the US. When I use the term, what I mean is any speech that serves the interests of political and corporate elites. Check the link above for a more extended discussion.

Now onto "The Cove." If you haven't seen the documentary, you really should. It's a documentary that examines the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, and efforts by the Japanese government to maintain the status quo. It's not an easy movie to watch, especially in light of how highly intelligent our dolphin friends happen to be (late last year, it was suggested that dolphins be considered non-human persons due to their intelligence). There does seem to be some reason to believe that like humans, dolphins have an awareness of their own mortality and seem savvy enough to consciously commit suicide under conditions of captivity (a point mentioned in "The Cove"). The centerpiece of the film is the effort by several activists to record one of these slaughters in Japan in progress, juxtaposing its violent imagery with the propaganda cranked out by the Japanese government. It's one of those painful but necessary films to watch.

Needless to say, there is considerable pressure on Japanese movie houses to refuse to show this film to the public. The film takes direct aim at a practice in Japan labeled "traditional" and hence defenders of dolphin hunting have taken the film to task for insufficient political correctness. The film's detractors seem to be relying on a rather extreme form of cultural relativism, invoking the specter of "Western interference" in the process. Never mind that most Japanese residents don't consume dolphin meat. What I suspect the real fear is that the handful who profit from the slaughter would have to find another means of making a living.

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