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No, Don’t free “Joe Exotic”

Why Tiger King is the final sign of the US apocalypse

To everybody who said to me and everyone else that they know “you have to watch Tiger King” I responded simply — why? Now that I have, I’ll answer that in my own way.

It is essential to watch the show Tiger King so that you don’t have any lingering sympathies about the decline and death of the entity currently known as North America.

Like preteen beauty pageants it reveals yet another side of the US dystopia like faith healing telethons and mobility scooter pile-ups in Walmart. This shithole country has allowed people to keep completely wild animals at a rate that there are now more tigers in captivity in so-called “private zoos” — which often amounts to nothing more in the large gardens these dickheads can all afford because their stupid country was built in the last 400 years on largely unspoiled land.

It is essential to watch not just because it is car crash TV and you are a sick voyeur, but because the owner of one of these “private zoos” Joe Exotic who is currently in jail entirely legitimately for taking out a contract killing against an animal rights campaigner as well as other offences of breeding wild animals, has become something of a folk hero.

Various celebrities have tweeted about their desire to free him from jail their hate for the animal rights campaigner Carole Baskin and even Donald Trump — who is basically the same person as Exotic if he had gone into the tiger game rather than property development, is discussing giving him the presidential pardon.

Let’s be real here. Joe Exotic started out agreeing with all of the restrictions that Carole Baskin the animal rights campaigner wishes to place on wild animal ownership. He knew, and once stated, that tigers and other big cats should not be kept in cages — and keeping them in cages only encouraged people to breed them and keep them in cages.

Along the way however, he was gaining so much money and influence by letting people play and pose with drugged up tiger cubs, he forgot his ethics the point of which he was cramming as many wild animals as he could into a trailer and driving them to shopping malls miles across America charging people outside Dunkin doughnuts and Hot Topic for photos and playtime with animals that should really be in the jungles of Africa and India. On a good say, said one employee, they could take back $40k.

Baskin, to her credit, started calling ahead to these malls and telling them to get a grip. Enraged, Joe went back to running his zoo — now with a weekly, bizarre video show in which he would shoot Carole in effigy, read mail he’d stole from her and other classic psycho shit.

The show freely admits that there is no such thing as a tame or domesticated tiger. Unlike the cats or dogs in your home they’re not a different species — they are wild animals. So although I know that she is a rather likeable character, in the grand scheme of things, is darkly comic to watch one of the tigers bite one of those staffs arms clean off and rip it through the cage.

Wild. Animal.

At the end of the show, which confusingly jumps around creating the impression that things which happened in the 90s actually happened during the shooting of the documentary in the last 5 years, Joe admits to his shame at watching two Chimps who he kept separate for a decade in cages right next to each other hug for the first time when he donated them to a bonafide wildlife sanctuary. He said he realised the chimps were just like us and needed physical contact and and he had denied them that. Ten years just feet away from their friends, trapped by behind bars,

Maybe that makes me a bad guy, he asks, almost tearfully.

Yes Joe it does — but that’s not all.

Joe’s flamboyant lifestyle, is something that is celebrated in the promotional content for the show. Te adverts will include a clip of him at one point marrying two men — all in hot pink shirts. Great. I wonderful, I hear you say. Brilliant that a man can marry not only one man but two men — and still be considered a pillar of the community in rural America in the 21st century.

What an example for LGBT youth looking for successful role models.

But there is a catch and it’s a rather large one. Both of the men were his employees first. They entirely relied on him for work and shelter — they actually lived in the zoo with Joe before becoming his husbands and afterwards. Exceptional pressure, on top of isolation, out in the remote zoo where Mr. Exotic was literally king.

The first, John Finlay, even had “property of Joe Exotic” tattooed above his crotch. Wonder who’s idea that was?

And here’s the real twister. Both of them straight.

Neither of them have ever had any relationship with a man except for their husband Joe, both were young and vulnerable and both were plied with drugs — specifically cannabis and methamphetamine (observe Finlay’s teeth or lack thereof)

Now if you are real 4chan style heartless libertarian, you might say these men were young but made their own choices, including the drugs and dicks they put in their body. Perhaps they even had a good time? People in the shadow world of tiger-philia seem to think there is no greater role in life than being able to be around wild animals every day, something well known by Joe and his fellow reprehensible private-zoo owners that you meet in the show, who seemed to easily win themselves multiple sexual partners via the fur game. But the husbands were not happy.

After Finlay the first husband runs away with a female employee who he has gotten pregnant, the remaining husband Travis Maldonado complains of “being trapped in the zoo,” live on camera (for some reason the filmmakers have been filming everything for years now ). The directors camera is not rolling when Finley enters the zoo office with a handgun and sits down. Instead his fatal gunshot to the head is caught on CCTV. The viewer gets to watch the clerks horrified reaction.

“This was not a suicide and he was just messing around, thinking the gun was not loaded,” the withness tells the camera. But it is suicidal behaviour that fits well with everything he has been saying about feeling trapped — plus the fact that he was not gay and was having relationships with several female employees at the park.

So how has “Carole fuckin’ Baskin” the animal rights campaigner, who Joe is now in prison for hiring a hitman to kill, become the villain of the piece?

It is fair to say that Carole probably did kill her second husband. Her first husband seems to have been pretty scummy himself in the first place, hence why she was walking alone, distraught, aged 20 , when she met her second husband Don. He was 43 when he picked up her up in his car. After 10 years — yes 10 whole years of an affair — Don finally left his wife and children and married Carole.

Now Don was a Tiger Guy, cut of the same cloth as Joe and any other private zoo owners we meet during the series. A rich bastard who uses wild cats as an expression of his wealth and power in the same way that others use speedboats, Super Yachts and high stakes poker — indeed many of these Tiger Guys do all of those things as well. It is claimed by Carole that Don also used prostitutes and would fly his private aircraft to Costa Rica to do just that when she was menstruating.

In 1997 after suspiciously setting the scene by suggesting that Don had developed Alzheimer’s and become vulnerable, Carole filed a missing person’s report. Don was never found. Carole suggests he may have died on his way to Costa Rica where he was transferring his property and probably his entire life. He had apparently repeatedly asked for a divorce and is on record having requested a restraining order against Carole who he said “wanted to kill her.”

The other Tiger Guys allege Carole dissolved his body in a septic tank somewhere on the grounds or simply ground him into an indistinguishable mush which was fed to the many tigers.

Did she? Who cares?

What we do know is that after he was gone, Carole went from being a Tiger Guy to being a tiger protector. She turned what was a private zoo into a public sanctuary run by volunteers.

She no doubt has some serious guilt about having been a Tiger Guy and popularising ownerhsip of wild animals, and has campaigned long and hard to end the private ownership big cats, coming very close to passing a bill which would have done just that.

So if she did kill her husband and cook the books say that his wealth went to her and her projects, then, annoying as she is, as vain as she is, she may well be the show’s only true hero.

Sure there are the characters in the show her essentially blameless but they’re not really active participants in ending the whole debacle.

There is so many more questions raised by the show in the ones that the tabloid producers want you to ask — principally did Carole Baskin kill her second husband — to which I repeat: who cares.

The bigger question is what’s going on with America when people can own “private zoos” absolutely stuffed full of tigers, lions and other wild game, when its patently illegal to breed them, or transport them? This is akin to saying you are waging a war on drugs but it’s absolutely fine to have the Scarface-style pile of cocaine on your desk “just to look at.” How did it get there?

Indeed how did America get there?

With what has become the motif of this review: Who cares? It will all be over soon.

By Redeye

Disclaimer:

The following article is an analysis of the popular show ‘Tiger King’. The program raises many themes of interest to us – animal rights, the portrayal of women in society and the treatment of employees. The article contends that Baskin has been unfairly portrayed in the show and has a genuine concern for animal rights, positively campaigning for legislation on the subject of animal ownership. Some of us would believe the contrary, that she is an exploitative employer accruing personal wealth under the guise of animal welfare activism. We’ll let people make up their own minds.

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