The latest viral sensation to take the online world by storm is Netflix's true crime documentary series Tiger King. Unlike other stars of successful Netflix productions, the star of Tiger King, Joe Exotic, is not sitting cozily at home, but rather languishing in prison. That has not stopped him from learning about his newfound fame, and according to a report by TMZ, he's over the moon about it.
"He was ecstatic last week -- despite his incarceration -- about all the popularity he's gained since the Netflix docuseries premiered. We're told he's been receiving a ton of mail in prison, and he's replied to at least 200 emails ... with plenty more waiting in his inbox."
The former Oklahoma zoo owner and tiger breeder Joe Exotic was convicted of multiple counts of animal abuse and attempted murder, and sentenced to 22 years in prison. The documentary explores the actions of Exotic that led to his arrest, the web of big cat conservationists and collectors scattered across America, and conservationist Carol Baskin, who takes it upon herself to stop the abuse of big cats at the hands of collectors.
While Exotic was excited to find out about his fame after the release of the documentary series, he has had to hold off on celebrating. The former big cat breeder had requested to be transferred to a federal holding unit, the FMC Fort Worth prison in Texas, which has better facilities. The prison immediately put him in quarantine that will last for fourteen days, during which time he will be unable to make any calls, check emails or catch up on his celeb status beyond the walls of the prison. So Exotic is stuck in isolation, but raring to get back in the game once the lockdown is lifted.
"Our sources say he's champing at the bit to contact the outside world, and thank folks for making him feel loved again."
'Loved' might not be the word most people who see the documentary would use to express their feelings for Exotic, but there is no denying his flamboyant character has become the breakout star of the documentary. His dressing sense, his self-aggrandizing style of speech, and his complex personal and professional life have made audiences breathlessly binge-watch every episode of the documentary series.
But just because people want to watch Exotic in action does not mean they are not aware of his terrible actions that form the basis of the show. He kept big cats in squalid conditions, shot old tigers to make room for new ones, and separated cubs from their mothers to be sold off to other collectors. And just when you think it can't get worse, he ordered a hit on Baskin in revenge for organizing a campaign to have his zoo shut down.
What Exotic has achieved with this Netflix documentary is a very specific kind of notoriety. With that notoriety comes a certain section of the audience that somehow emerged from their viewing experience believing Exotic is someone to be championed, like rapper Cardi B, who has made her intentions to get Exotic freed from prison repeatedly public on social media. So the Tiger King is right in thinking that the show has made at least a certain section of the audience, no matter how misguided, sympathetic to his cause. This update comes from TMZ.
SPOILER ALERT: If you are among the few who haven’t actually watched Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries, this review contains a lot of details about what goes down in the sad big cat saga.
With Netflix poised in the coming days to cash in and crank the base up a notch with more Tiger King, it's time to come out and say it: I hate the Red State porn that is the crash and burn of Joe Exotic
The initial seven episodes of this septic and shallow patchwork of trademark infringement, sex, guns, labor exploitation, song, drugs, mullets, betrayal, animal activism, revenge, and a lot of big cats may be much binged over these weeks of coronavirus lockdown, but that doesn't mean it's actually worth watching.
Now, I get it, I sound like I'm just a dour critic who hates anything that isn't prestige premium cable or aspirational. C'mon man, you want to say, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is just so unbelievable, I can't look away.
I respectfully disagree, and in fact, propose Tiger King isn't just bad, but dangerous in a divided America persistently looking to reduce the other side to caricature.
In a presently ailing nation where TV is more voluminous and vital than ever, the truth is the March 20 launched Tiger King is a clawed white trash misery index. Gawking at some clearly fragile and damaged people like would-be reality TV star Exotic and their below the Mason-Dixon line antics, the series subsequently provides a cultural circus for those smug bicoastals under stay at home orders and screaming to rise up in moral superiority.
Essentially, the tale of big cat collector, self-styled Oklahoma zoo proprietor and 2016 Presidential candidate Exotic AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage and his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to have rival Carole Baskin knocked off by a hitman hired for $3,000, Tiger King is in that context more a zero-sum game, literally and figuratively, than hitting the zeitgeist.
Obviously, Netflix are pretty damn good at gauging and dragging the public mood over the years, as the likes of the then phenomenon of 2015's Making A Murderer or 2018’s Wild Wild Country prove. Yet, for all the attention it has drawn, this unfocused murder for hire exploration of sorts emerges as a bastard child of Cops, a million Dateline segments from the 1990s and Fox’s short-lived Murder in Small Town X reality show from 2001.
Not exactly the prestige product that the home of Roma, The Irishman and American Factory likes to brag about at award shows. Then again, with the knowledge that the Romans sold out the Colosseum every night feeding Christians to the lions, the bottom line based House of Hastings surely loves the subscription sign up that the currently incarcerated Maldonado-Passage and the accompanying motley gaggle of...