The amount of buzz circling around the Tiger King documentary on Netflix is kind of amazing in a way and also kind of depressing since the people that are shown on the program are more than a little nuts and definitely full of themselves to a degree that makes a good number of celebrities look positively meek. It’s said in the documentary that people who love and deal in big cats are a bit crazy, and that’s something of an understatement since no matter what any one of them says about the show, and they’ve said plenty, going so far as to say they were tricked, it’s salacious, and it’s a bunch of garbage that doesn’t paint them in a good light at all. In truth, even if the documentary was more or less rigged to show the worst parts of each individual in a negative light, it got that one thing right. Some of the numbers and facts are likely exaggerated, but overall the fact remains that the treatment of the cats in this show is horrendous. Not only are there too many of them in one enclosure and they look as though they couldn’t survive outside of their cages, much less in the wild, but the fact that they become kind of a byproduct of the show, a bunch of extras to be fair, is depressing as well since the show focuses largely on Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, Jeff Lowe, and Doc Antle, who’s an egotistical nutcase that appears to feel that he’s beyond reproach in all of this.
Sure, the documentary likely stretches the truth a bit and there are plenty of people out there that are attempting to write about how it’s not real and that it was made as a goof. There are even celebrities that are attempting to plead Joe’s case and try to get him exonerated. Cardi B even attempted to set up a GoFundMe account for Joe before finding out that this isn’t allowed for those that have been incarcerated due to violent crimes. Now there’s talk about Joe trying to get a pardon from President Trump, whose words “I’ll take a look” are ominous as anything could possibly be. The idea of letting him out is a bit abhorrent really since not only did he keep one of his partners drugged continuously he’s also been said to have shot several tigers and obviously hasn’t been above thoughts of killing his rival, Carole Baskin, who’s every bit as shady as he is but is far better at hiding it behind a weary smile and a face that says that she’s been through too much in this life. Chris Schutte of SBNation had more to say on the matter. This show is about nothing more than ego, who can one up who, and the kind of work it must take to make sure the shade is deep enough to hide whatever the main players don’t want people to know about. The entertainment value is real since it’s good for a few hearty chuckles at the expense of those involved, but the most appalling part is that these folks happen to think that the way they’re living is normal. Living with wild animals in cages is not the type of normal that a lot of people would ascribe to for one reason, THEY’RE WILD ANIMALS. They’re supposed to be free, running, jumping, swimming, flying, whatever they do, not bound up in cages and certainly not passed around like stuffed animals for people to play with.
I must sound like I belong with PETA at this point, but not hardly since I don’t agree with their methods either. The show is designed to get people interested in the story at any cost and in reality it’s done just that, but at a price that’s hard to imagine paying, the lives and well-being of the animals that are still under the care of the egotistical and self-deluded individuals that were shown in the documentary. The fact that people still want to visit these places indicates that we do live in a twisted and demented time where the shadiest and most dramatic individuals are the most newsworthy and are deemed the most interesting people in the world for as long as it takes for the next hardcase to come around and display their tragic life story for people to witness. Joe Exotic is and has been an egotist, much like Antle save for the fact that unlike Antle he can’t really tone down his ego or his rhetoric. Ashwin Rodrigues of Vice has more to say on Antle. Those featured in the show are all a bit off their rocker to say the least. Of course it’s all about entertainment at this point and the documentary provided that even as people are now looking around the internet trying to find out what’s real and what’s not. One thing I’d gladly tell anyone, don’t take the words of those that were in the documentary as gospel.