Do You Think Tiger King Fully "Investigated" the Problem?
Franklin D. Roosevelt said "I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made." To those who have been misled by Tiger King into the "free Joe Exotic" absurdity we say this: If you sincerely believe that a man who shoots five healthy, beautiful, majestic tigers in the head to make money deserves to be free, we are proud to have you as enemies.
The show’s success has undoubtedly been helped by the unusual conditions tethering hordes of people to their couches—34.3 million people watched the show in its first 10 days—but it’s also a spellbinding tale in its own right, with thrills and twists and salacious surprises. Eccentric Oklahoma zoo owner and tiger breeder Joe Exotic, a self-described “gay, gun-toting cowboy with a mullet,” and a polygamist to boot, puts on quite a show. And it’s hard to look away. The problem with Tiger King is that, for a show purportedly about animal abuse, maybe it should be a little harder to watch. While the story calls attention to the mistreatment of exotic animals in the U.S., it privileges the titillating interpersonal drama as the main story. Yes, the absurdity of this issue is laid bare, as we watch with shock and awe as tigers are crowded into makeshift cages in roadside zoos. It’s reasonable to wonder: How is this allowed? But even as the creators set out to call attention to this policy, they fail, as Tiger King puts animals through the same exploitative portrayals it accuses its subjects of perpetrating: It gets swept up in the glitz and glam, the glory (and gore) of this animal-obsessed kingdom, and forgets about the animals themselves.
What’s not entertaining is the idea that thousands of wild animals are still being held captive throughout the United States and likely dealing with the same abuse (if not worse) that can be witnessed between the lines of “Tiger King.