Seaspiracy is such a relentless ride of a documentary, blurring past so many marine-concerning topics, that it’s initially hard to know where to align your activist ambitions. By the end however, viewers will get off the ride with fresh insight into how their actions can bring about change (and a little nausea at the thought of last night’s fish finger feast).
Seaspiracy was released just over a week ago and has already made it amongst Netflix’s top 10 most popular film and tv shows in several countries. The documentary is causing waves on social media with high profile celebrities, sports stars, and activists tweeting recommendations to give the film a watch.
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) March 27, 2021
A lot of this hype can be attributed to Seaspiracy’s shock factor, and there’s a lot revealed in this documentary to be shocked about. Advertised as a Pandora’s box of truths about fishing that several big-name corporations don’t want opened, the trailer teases links between the fishing industry, organised crime, human trafficking, and slavery.
The opening of Seaspiracy confirms these initial impressions, setting up the stakes with a montage of imposing pixelated figures and wing-mirror-footage of pursuing police cars – all knitted together with narration describing how dangerous making this documentary is.
So, does Seaspiracy deliver the eye-opening experience it promises?
A documentary for Gen Z
In contrast to the dynamic (and intense) opening, the documentary subsequently treats us to wholesome home-video footage as we are introduced to the narrator and director, 27-year-old Ali Tabizi. The personal introduction combined with filmed childhood memories quickly positions the audience to ally with Ali, and share his love for dolphins, whales, and the ocean as a whole.
Seaspiracy is a documentary made for Gen Z, and early efforts to affiliate us with Ali is indicative of this.
Ali is that person regularly found clearing plastic off the beach. He’s partaking in clicktivism, donating to causes and sharing petitions on his social media. He’s the one to turn up to a coffee shop with a reusable cup, and a picnic with cardboard cutlery. To summarize, Ali is determined to discover the best way to live his life in harmony with the planet.
This desire is relatable to any young person born with the shadow of climate change darkening their future. We want to follow Ali on his journey to discover the true cause of the damage being done to our seas, because we also want to know the best way to help. Early on, we are buckled in and ready to go, and just as well because this film picks up the pace fast.
The first third of the film races past several topics at a speed that’ll keep even the shortest attention span fixated. By the 20 minute mark we’ve already gone from plastic pollution to whale hunting to shark finning and changed location three times.
You could criticize the film for initially lacking focus, but I would argue Ali’s journey to discover the heart of the problem and ensure his actions are contributing to the solution, is one Gen Z can relate to, and warrants their sticking around until the end credits.