More than ever before, audiences online a voice. Where once audiences were expected to simply accept what was said, through the use of social media and expanding points of internet access, audiences across the world now hold the ability to respond, fight back and become activists as they come together creating movements and demand change.
These online movements, created by audiences supporting a similar cause is a new type of digital activism which uses social media and the internet to aid and promote a social cause, also known as Clicktivism. It is argued that Clicktivism isn’t a helpful form of activism as sitting behind a screen and liking, writing or uploading about a cause isn’t actually physically helping the cause. However, the sequence of events that followed the release of Gabriela Cowperwaite’s documentary Blackfish could argue otherwise.
Blackfish is a documentary that factually reports the deaths and attacks of SeaWorld trainers and the treatment of Killer Whales in captivity, with particular focus on the largest captive killer whale Tillikum. But soon after it’s release social media was a buzz and Clicktivism was taking form with audiences demanding change as people across the world watched and were touched by the film. Posting videos (as seen below), online articles written by children and adults, Social Meida posts including the hashtag #FreeTilly and #Blackfish , Blogs, Facecbook Pages and much, much more. It’s been called the Blackfish Effect.
Even celebrities jumped on board
From here on, online petitions through many organisations like Change.org, PETA circulated the internet asking for signatures demanding the whales be released, SeaWorld change its act and performance acts at SeaWorld to stop. And eventually, online audiences organised physical protests that have taken place at SeaWorld since the movement.
So the important question, has the Clicktivism over Blackfish made any kind of difference?
Although the whales (sadly) are still performing the Clicktivits have seen a number of results firstly with the success of the online petitions asking major musical acts to cancel their shows at SeaWorld seeing a number of acts withdraw . Secondly, since the release of the film and the online movement that is the Blackfish Effect still in motion sea world has been on a downhill slope with theme park attendance and stock at it’ slowest and continuing to decline and criticism at its highest.
All in all, Clickivism and audience voice has gone a step in the right direction for all of the Blackfish activists proving just how powerful, online activism can be.