Thursday, January 16, 2014

Music performers cancelling shows at Busch Gardens due to Blackfish boycott

A documentary about SeaWorld is causing a whale of a problem in Tampa.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 1:06 PM

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Fans of the documentary Blackfish were disappointed Thursday morning when the film failed to garner an Oscar nomination, but its overall impact may be greater than any of the films that were nominated.

Officials with the Busch Gardens theme park in Tampa announced on their Facebook page that the Beach Boys and Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo have cancelled appearances at the park's annual Bands, Brew & BBQ concert series this year — all because Busch Gardens is controlled by SeaWorld Entertainment, whose brand has become toxic since the release last year of the film Blackfish, an exposé on how theme parks treat killers whales kept in captivity.

"We’re disappointed that there is a media controversy enacted by animal activists and based on misinformation," says a message on Busch Gardens Facebook page.

Last month, the buildup of musicians boycotting SeaWorld began in earnest with Willie Nelson, Cheap Trick, Barenaked Ladies, Heart, Joan Jett, REO Speedwagon and Trisha Yearwood all announcing that they would not perform at the Orlando-based park.

According to a spokesman for Change.org, there are now 19 separate petitions on their website going after organizations affiliated with SeaWorld. One petition urges Southwest Air to drop its long-time corporate partnership with SeaWorld. Other petitions urge Toys R' Us to stop selling a SeaWorld-themed Barbie and Groupon to stop offering discounts to SeaWorld parks.

Blackfish was released in certain markets last summer, but its audience increased exponentially and pressure built on SeaWorld after the film was aired several times on CNN beginning in October.

The musician's cancellations are also causing considerable debate on Busch Garden's Facebook page, with some citizens applauding the performers and others calling them hypocrites — or worse.

SeaWorld has responded forcefully since the film begin generating critical praise, including in a letter refuting some of the claims made in the film that was published in several major newspapers last month.

SeaWorld also released a report this week indicating that far from being hurt by the boycott, they're financial numbers have never been better.

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