I recently had sushi in Little Tokyo with a
longtime friend frenemy person I know, who was in LA from NY for one night. After a few tantalizing rounds of chef’s choice, we started to gaze at the specials. Aloud, pained, I lamented the listing for toro sashimi–which I love almost as much as football–on the board, having not ordered the fatty belly of the endangered bluefin for almost two years. We quickly, maybe even passionately chatted about the awful projections that the world stands to be bluefin-free by the next U.S. presidential election.
She sighed. And then brightly ordered the toro.
I tried not to judge. I tried not to preach. It’s not my duty. I merely looked at her quizzically.
“Jesus, Diana, it’s not like I invented toro or anything,” she huffed. And I actually haven’t heard from her since that night.
But that moment has stuck with me. I find myself wondering why it’s so easy to dismiss the peril of the bluefin, to literally mouth the words “endangered” while allowing that endangered flesh to cross one’s lips (with some tart rice and a little bit of salt). I’m not angry at my friend–she’s certainly not alone. I just wonder.
Is it because bluefin are *just* fish? They’re cold, slick, emotionless–not cute, cuddly, loving, furry, and adorable. And although it’s a bummer to most when species are endangered and all… at the end of the day, we can’t really be expected to modify our behavior, nor bothered to deny our tastebuds and cravings, for a bunch of cold, dead fish. They’re just fish, right? Like the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea. At least for the next fifty years.
It’s not like bluefin are pandas or anything. Then–THEN we’d have all the right conservation slogans, tees, and–er, sexy costumes. Pandas are endangered CUTE animals that we can all (save for a few dissenters) get behind. We dare not imagine a bunch of dead pandas on wooden pallets. It would hurt t0o much.
But in fact, that’s exactly what the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society wants you to do. They just launched this new campaign: “When you see tuna, think Panda.”
And perhaps you respond to these images the way I do:
OH MY GOD DEAD PANDAS NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! IT HURTS! IT HURTS! IT HURTS! I CANNOT DEAL! NOOOOOOOOO!
That’s probably how we should feel about endangered tuna, too.
Look, I don’t want to see these ads any more than you do. But if such comparisons are what it takes for us to really understand that this “endangered bluefin” shit is for real–that by ordering those red tuna rolls we are actively begging for a near-extinct species to be lined up dead on wooden pallets just to satisfy our sushi palates–then so be it.
Filed under: Bluefin Tuna, Dead Panda Ads, Effective Ads, Endangered Bluefin, Endangered Species, Fish, Northern Bluefin Tuna, Operation Blue Rage, Pandas, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Sushi, Toro
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