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Anti-aquarium film "The Dark Hobby" in production

By Leonard Ho - Posted Aug 12, 2016 09:00 AM
Anti-aquarium activists Robert Wintner (AKA Snorkel Bob) is teaming up with filmmakers Paula Fouce and Michael Flores to produce a full-length, self-described "entertaining exposé" to attack the marine aquarium hobby.

While exposés are often loose with the "facts" (to put it kindly), history has shown they are still capable of strongly altering public perception by appealing to emotion; as any politician will tell you, fear and outrage are powerful motivators.  Judging by The Dark Hobby's website, facebook page, and promotional video (below), the film will heavily rely on outdated, cherry-picked, and misrepresented information to demonize the aquarium hobby.  This should come as no surprise because it has been the modus operandi for Robert Wintner and Rene Umberger for years in their ideological fight to outlaw the aquarium trade in Hawaii.  Now they are aiming to repackage their message for mass consumption by way of this planned "documentary," no doubt hoping to do to the aquarium hobby what the film Blackfish (replete with lies and manipulation to sell its propaganda) did to Seaworld.

Starting on August 9, 2016, the producers are seeking $100,000 in crowd-source funding to produce their film. At the time of this publication, only $100 has been contributed by a lone backer.

While Advanced Aquarist has no desire to give this planned film publicity, we feel it is more important to keep aquarists informed about developments that represent a potential existential threat to our hobby.  It's safe to assume most aquarists are in favor of science-based management of the world's natural resources, including ornamental fish.  But in order to have a constructive discussion, we simply seek logical, factual dialogue, not demogougery such as this planned film.

In the opening frames, the juxtaposition of a net-fish-collector with sinister background music is a classic example of emotional manipulation.  Appeal to emotion (or argumentum ad passiones or appeal to feels) is a logical fallacy characterized by the manipulation of the recipient's emotions in order to win an argument, especially in the absence of factual evidence.

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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