Joan Jett and Heart are among a growing list of artists distancing themselves from SeaWorld over the recent movie Blackfish, which questions the effects of captivity on whales such as the orcas that perform at the marine theme park. Jett wrote a letter asking that SeaWorld stop playing her music in its shows, while Heart joins Willie Nelson and Barenaked Ladies in canceling performances planned for SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, The Associated Press reports.
“I’m among the millions who saw Blackfish and am sickened that my music was blasted without my permission at sound-sensitive marine mammals,” Jett wrote in a letter to SeaWorld President Jim Atchison.
Although SeaWorld had licensed “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” for use as “walk-in music” as part of the “Shamu Rocks” evening show in Orlando, the song has since been pulled, SeaWorld told the AP in an e-mail. “A new nighttime Shamu show is being designed for SeaWorld Orlando and we had no plans to use any of her music in that show,” spokesman Nick Gollattscheck wrote.
Heart wrote Sunday on Facebook that they had “chosen to decline their forthcoming performance at SeaWorld . . . due to the controversial documentary film Blackfish.” Nelson and Barenaked Ladies canceled performances at the urging of Change.org petitions. “This is a complicated issue, and we don’t claim to understand all of it, but we don’t feel comfortable proceeding with the gig at this time,” Barenaked Ladies said in a statement.
Blackfish examines what may have prompted a 6-ton orca named Tilikum to kill a SeaWorld trainer in 2010. The trainer, Dawn Brancheau, died when the killer whale pulled her into a pool. Tilikum was also involved in two other deaths. The documentary explores also other incidences of captive orcas acting aggressive toward humans and other killer whales.
SeaWorld expressed disappointment that “a small group of misinformed individuals” could persuade the performers to cancel.
“The bands and artists have a standing invitation to visit any of our parks to see firsthand or to speak to any of our animal experts to learn for themselves how we care for animals and how little truth there is to the allegations made by animal extremist groups opposed to the zoological display of marine mammals,” Gollattscheck, the company’s spokesman, said.