Why Donald Trump should uncage the Tiger King, Joe Exotic
Until a week ago, Joe Exotic was barely known outside of the big cat world in America. Now, he's become a global sensation thanks to Netflix's smash documentary, ‘Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.‘
It's been number one on the streaming service's top 10 list for several days. While it's undeniably entertaining, the bigger question is — should it really be on our TV screens? In its purest form, we're watching a person self-destruct in the cruelest and most painful of scenarios.
At the show's conclusion, Joe Exotic, aka Joseph Schreibvogel or Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is sentenced to 22-years in an Oklahoma prison over animal abuse and conspiracy to murder his arch-rival, an animal activist.
From his jail cell, the 56-year-old has been using his Facebook page to appeal to the President for a special investigation and a pardon from his conviction. He's been flooded with support and his online prison commissary account is at its maximum, due to the generosity of Joe's worldwide “fans.”
But we should never have got here. Whatever you think of breeding big cats and keeping them in captivity, that's not what the show is about. If you want to see an investigation into that world, the excellent documentary maker Louis Theroux did one in 2011 — and it also featured Joe Exotic.
The Netflix show doesn't explore that debate, it's simply about playing to the gallery and giving someone vulnerable enough rope to hang themselves. It's clear that Joe — who describes himself as a "gay, gun-toting cowboy with a mullet" — is an eccentric individual; from his lifestyle, choice of career, being openly polygamous and his perception of himself. Hence, why he bizarrely decided to run for President of the United States in 2016.
He clearly was going to play up to having a camera crew follow his every move. In fairness, the production team wouldn't have known what that reaction would be. But when they saw it, how on earth did they morally come to terms with continuing their work over several years?
It's akin to throwing lighter fluid on a house fire and then neglecting to call the fire brigade.
And in this case, it does burn down.
The show’s seven episodes feature horrific CCTV footage of people watching someone commit suicide by shooting themselves in the head; another man explaining that he has no teeth due to 'meth mouth,’ as he has consumed so much drugs; and one worker having her arm ripped off by a tiger.
Then there's the prank played on Joe when someone coats his boots in some kind of substance that smells appealing, so a massive lion starts biting them furiously. Joe has to fire his gun more than once to dissuade the animal. While the crew and producers keep their cameras rolling, no one bothers to help or distract the lion.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. We also get some some pathetic pretend-gangster finally getting a salivating audience (the crew), who are stupid enough to give him the time of day and let him spout his bile.
We have the funeral of a young man being filmed, with his mother clearly uncomfortable in the front row, as Joe Exotic misjudges the situation, grabs the microphone and uses the event to sing one of his country songs like it's some family BBQ.
And there's frequent accusations thrown around that a woman fed her late husband to tigers, so his body would never be found.
Anyone with a fair grasp on reality can see that a cast of dubious characters begins to circle Joe, wanting to grab whatever TV fame may come their way. And it seems the makers welcome them all in with open arms.
This isn't a reflection of many millions of viewers worldwide who’ve been glued to the series, as the argument that “if no one watched it, then we wouldn't make it” is total garbage. The actual point is, did anyone in the public ask you to make this?
It may be gripping, but a man has lost his entire life and reputation. He is damaged mentally: he needed an arm put around him, he needed support and help. He didn't need fame and unnecessary attention, he didn't need money-hungry cheerleaders encouraging him to go over the top — again and again. It's no surprise that it gets more dramatic as the episodes go by.
And now makers have also confirmed they could run a second series. Which sounds like it potentially could have been purposefully manipulated to enable that to happen, as if almost scripted by moving impressionable people like pieces on a Netflix chessboard.
If you look at social media from Twitter to Instagram, you'll also see plenty of shameless idiots putting up jokes or inserting themselves into pictures with Joe and his tigers.
Imagine that was your father, son or brother. Enough is enough, we need to rid ourselves of this rabble-rousing culture. We as a society have a duty to protect people, even if it's from themselves.
Greed, power, attention and ego on the part of others meant that never happened for Joe Exotic. Now he's behind bars and has lost a grip on reality. President Trump should step up and uncage the Tiger King.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.