In “The Cove”, directed by Louie Psihoyos, Ric O’Barry, the famous dolphin trainer of the TV series, Flipper, leads a group of experts to uncover the secret dolphin massacre process held in Taiji, Japan every year. Although most Americans would be horrified at just the slaying of these stereotypically cutesy marine pals, there are bigger foci at hand. Japan is being culturally exploited in two separate ways. First off, being an island nation, Japan’s main staple of food is unsurprisingly seafood and has been for countless generations. By allowing tradition, people are endangering their lives, of Minamata disease stature, and are not even educated about it. As if this was not disloyal enough, the highly mercury-filled dolphin meats are being distributed through untruthful labels, so the population is being swindled to consume poison. Along with advocating against the overly cruel slaughter, “The Cove” does an exceptional job of elaborating on these betrayals in an eye-opening manner.
Sadly, this exact incident that is feared to happen has already occurred in the past. The area of Minamata Bay was plagued with mercury poisoning in the 1950s, for the same reasons of toxic seafood from factory pollution. In a series of scenes in “The Cove”, traditional sushi is shown in a customary fashion. The fish looks luscious, deep red in color, and essentially normal. The narration, however, interjects that many of these sea meats can be ridden with deadly mercury, especially dolphin meats. Centuries of customary consumption obviously includes a huge proportion of these commodities, and a country is now being warned off its own ancestral cuisine. Shortly after the scenes of sushi, intense violin music plays in the background, and contrasting footage of Minamata congenital victims is shown. The children can barely move on their own, much less walk, and their faces are purposely closed up on to display their pain. One child’s mouth roars open as he stares powerfully at the camera. He seems to be frustratingly saying something that no one else can comprehend. The violin music literally pulls at your heartstrings as these ghastly, but real, horrors are bared. It is difficult to accept these victims were not born like this because of terrible radiation or apocalyptic catastrophes, but due to established food sources betraying its Japanese consumers.
“The Cove” also congregates on the enigma of how people in the larger cities of Japan are not even acquainted with the dolphin meat enterprise, but 23,000 are slaughtered in Taiji every year. The question lies on the destination of all this “edible” meat. Another foul deception unfortunately comes into play. Street interviews are conducted in the movie, and people sincerely are either appalled or unaware of the dolphins even being eaten. One particular woman exclaims disbelief with wide eyes of surprise. She gasps and asks the cameramen if they are telling the truth multiple times. Severity blazons over her faces as she exclaims that something should be done. Where could the dolphin meat be going if people are this disgusted by it? To uncover this answer, “The Cove” has an aiding member set up a DNA testing experiment with various types of other labeled meats in the market. The results are stupefying. Many healthy meats branded as whale are found to be mercury-filled dolphin meats. Cultural dishonesty is pushed to a new level, as the Japanese are plainly being deceived about what foods they are eating, but also, being literally poisoned by seemingly fine market choices. The stores controlling the blindness and accidental consumption of the innocent consumers will eventually have deadly consequences.
“The Cove” is essentially a spy movie that skillfully uncovers unpleasant duplicities in the Japanese food industries, through the corrupt dolphin slaughters of Taiji. Not one, but two different types of betrayal of the Japanese people are unearthed in this documentary. The seafood is poisoning its most loyal consumer, but also, toxic meats are being slipped into the most sought after ones, for dolphins to even be consumed. Most would not even purchase the meats, due to the mercury content and negative connotation of mutilating these adorable creatures. However, to keep the pointless murdering in Taiji going, dishonest labeling must occur, so poisonous dolphin meat can be disposed of. This brings to light how little sense the slaughtering really makes, by harming dolphins, but more importantly, the Japanese people. The fallacy of what the Japanese deem safe to eat, due to either fabricated naming or generations of utilization, is upsetting. Something must be done to out these controversies, or a Minamata-esque echo of history will come alive.