There are so many strange cultural sub-sects in this country that most of us aren’t even cognizant of and Netflix just put a spotlight on what might be the craziest of them all: the tiger community and no one is crazier than the Tiger King.
Joe Exotic is a self-proclaimed “gay, gun-carrying redneck with a mullet” who realized one day that owning tigers would separate himself from the rest of the world and from that moment forward, he would create his own world in which he is the most important character.
Every time Joe Exotic says or does something that makes you want to vomit, you are immediately brought to another character in the tiger community that is somehow more disgusting than Exotic is.
Bhagavan “Doc” Antle runs the Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species aka T.I.G.E.R.S., get it? Everyone in the tiger community looks up to this man as people drive for miles to see him ride into his shows on the back of an elephant before they all pass around tiger cubs to pet. Costumers spend around $10K for a photo of themselves with a jaguar or whatever.
This business model can only exist in a society that values photos with endangered animals and the Instagram Likes that come with those photos. Cool, you guys can all take photos of sunsets and all that boring shit. Here is me laying with an Ocelot.
Sure, it cost me five figures but I am special. I’ll never forget the one guy who was interviewed in this doc and said he visits Doc’s zoo multiple times a week because there’s no better experience than petting a tiger.
None of us know why the fuck we’re here and the idea that this is all meaningless is frightening. You mean we weren’t chosen by god? Our parents just got drunk one night and accidentally had us and no one will remember our existence 100 years from now?
The idea of being special is what would take a teenage girl from Ames, Iowa and bring her down to South Carolina for an ‘apprenticeship’ in which you clean Tiger cages and shovel elephant shit 12 hours a day every single day for $100 a week and a forced marriage with an old man who demands that you get breast implants and call him ‘lord’ as you lay in your cockroach-ridden bed praying that you’re not the wife he chooses to spend the night rubbing his tiny weird dick on.
You get to be apart of the tiger show! Because the alternative is that you probably go to school for some bullshit liberal arts degree while you waitress at night and the next thing you know you’re promoted to ‘head waitress’ which is a bullshit title the restaurant owner gives to guilt you into committing to the job long term and then you meet some balding dude whose pull out game is trash so you get married because he gets you pregnant and you move to the next town over from where you grew up living paycheck to paycheck struggling to pay back student loans for a degree you never used and praying no one in your family ever gets sick because you cannot afford medical bills and the only joy you get in life is when a crazy Netflix doc like Tiger King drops and the moment you’re done binging you are reminded how pointless everything is and every time you go on Instagram, your friend from high school is on another vacation and just posted a new photo of herself petting a snow leopard.
Let’s talk about Carole Baskin, the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary for abused and mistreated animals to go die peacefully, I think.
Carole was also abused and mistreated (and poor) and one day was found on the side of the road by a rich, tiger breeder that made her feel special. Her story is no different from the women that moved in with Doc or the workers Joe Exotic finds on the side of the road and feeds with expired Walmart meats.
But what separates her from Doc’s wives or Joe’s very straight husbands is that Carole’s first husband, Don Lewis, stopped making her feel special as he went to Costa Rica often to play with his girlfriend down there.
I’m not outwardly saying Carole murdered Don because you don’t need a potential homicide to bring her down to the levels of the men she perceived herself to be holier than.
Carole claims that tigers don’t belong in cages while simultaneously holding tigers in some tiny ass cages. Her sanctuary is completely staffed with ‘volunteers’ who work tirelessly through holidays for absolutely no money but the hope of leveling up to a brand new shirt color. But they’ll never get to Carole’s light blue shirt and she made that damn clear by clarifying that there are so many other shades of blue that come first. She laughs at the idea of not even knowing who any of the volunteers are right after one tells her that she missed Christmas to clean tiger shit.
We all want to feel special. That’s normal and fine and we are all special in our unique ways. Some people, however, recognize that other people want to feel special and exploit that in order to make themselves feel even more special.
And the only negative I can say for this doc is how they sweep the animal abuse under the rug. It’s an afterthought. A few throwaway lines. They allude to how expensive it is to feed full adult tigers and how much money these assholes make from tiger cub petting that they sort of brush off the very apparent notion that these monsters are murdering a buuunch of tigers once they get too big to be pet by children.
Not until the very end does Joe’s campaign manager finally discuss the totality and the consequences of these sociopaths’ actions. All of the millions of dollars suing each other could have been used to actually preserve these tigers’ natural habitats.
But it was never actually about the tigers for these maniacs. It was about getting rich and feeling superior to everyone else.
A husband was fed to tigers. Probably. Maybe. Allegedly. A kid pretends to be gay so he can get free guns, weed and meth before shooting himself in the head. Women join a tiger cult where they are forced to surgically alter their bodies and get raped by an old man.
Also, I don’t know much about Joe Exotic’s former business partner, Jeff Lowe, but that man seems like he’s fed people to tigers, shot people in the head and raped women so yea, this whole tiger community is fucked.
Jeff Lowe definitelyyy makes women call him ‘tiger king’ right after he hands them they’re $500 ‘donations’.
I guess my point is there are other ways to feel special outside of holding baby tigers and making millions by exploiting baby tigers. Maybe just like, spoil yourself once a week and pay extra for the guacamole. Be kind to people because they’ll remember you more than they will your photo with a sedated cheetah.
(Please don’t sue me, Carole. You are the real Tiger King. Don’t hurt me.)