Last month, the band cancelled a gig at SeaWorld’s upcoming “Bands, BBQ and Brew” festival after viewing the documentary
REO Speedwagon drummer Bryan Hitt admits there are “two sides to every story” in the “Blackfish” debate at which SeaWorld is at the center of, but he’s got one major issue with the aquatic theme park: “I don’t, personally, like having big animals captive in small places.”
The classic rock band was one of numerous headliners to cancel performances at SeaWorld after watching Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s BAFTA-nominated documentary exploring the effects captivity has an killer whales. Willie Nelson, Cheap Trick, Heart and Barenaked Ladies also bailed in response to the film.
Hitt explained his band’s decision to TMZ, while being careful to note both the film and SeaWorld’s perspectives could be slightly skewed.
“It was a great film. There’s always two sides to every story. Nobody is a hundred percent correct on either side, we just felt like that’s SeaWorld’s fight, not our fight,” Hitt said in a quick interview (above). “We politely bowed out. I think they do a lot of good in some instances. I don’t, personally, like having big animals captive in small places.”
Hitt added he had visited the park before, and even had his six-month-old son sit on signature orca Shamu, which will never happen again.
“Now would I do that? No. For one thing, I would never put my son on a whale,” Hitt said. “They’ve eaten some people lately.”
“Blackfish,” which many consider to have been snubbed by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences when it was not nominated for an Oscar this week, investigates the death of three people at SeaWorld, including one of the park’s best and brightest trainers, Dawn Brancheau, who was mutilated by the park’s largest killer whale, Tilikum.
SeaWorld has criticized the film for its depiction of the park, and said it only focuses on a handful of negative aspects of the company. When TheWrap interviewed former SeaWorld trainer and “Blackfish” star John Hargrove, he agreed the film did, in fact, only focus on a handful of events — but SeaWorld should be grateful for that.
“We just scratched the surface. There’s so many incidents that we did not bring up in ‘Blackfish,’ that trainers nearly died and we didn’t even touch on those,” Hargrove said. “So, I mean, they should be grateful that we only brought up what we brought up. If there was more time, it would have been a less-flattering picture for them, for sure.”