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The Missouri Miner

Missouri S&T's Student Newspaper
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EST. 1915

Tiger King: America’s Newest Obsession

For those who haven’t heard of or seen Netflix’s biggest documentary at the moment, here’s the breakdown. Tiger King, which drew 34.3 million viewers in the first 10 days since its release on March 20th, follows the life of Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, famously known as Joe Exotic. It emulates the feuds and experiences of his life as the owner of over 200 big cats in a huge private zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, before being sentenced to 22 years in prison for animal abuse and for being the prime orchestrator in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his animal activist archenemy, Carole Baskin.

Why has this documentary become such a success? "We knew from the outset that it was really an interesting subculture in America," the show's co-director Eric Good said on "You Can't Make This Up," which is Netflix’s companion podcast. "What interests us is the psychology behind keeping these animals, and just as much as the issues surrounding the animals, we were interested in the people that did this." Viewers are given insight into a world completely new and foreign to them. Similar responses have been viewed with other documentaries that delve into another world that not many get to experience. An example of this is the reality series “Cheer”, which showcases the day-to-day lives of a cheer squad in Corsicana, Texas.

The biggest plot in ‘Tiger King’ is Joe Exotic’s incarceration for the murder-for-hire plot to kill Carole Baskin, his animal activist nemesis. Some individuals in the documentary believe that, while Joe Exotic definitely commented about killing Baskins on many occasions, he didn’t have the brains nor the money to pull off a plan like this. Others believe that Joe Exotic’s ex-partner, Jeff Lowe, set him up for the whole thing to get Joe out of the way and out of their zoo. There are numerous storylines and speculations about what really happened.

Joe Exotic has spoken out about his time in prison saying,”I’m in a cage. You know why animals die in cages? Their souls die.” Joe Exotic issued a call for a pardon from President Trump, and announced a $94 million dollar lawsuit against the federal government on his Facebook Page. President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has expressed his support of a pardon for Joe Exotic and mentioned lobbying his father to make it happen. President Trump responded by saying that he’ll “take a look”. Joe may very well be out of his cage sooner than anyone thought.

Tiger King has been one of America's binge-watching favorites during the coronavirus pandemic. An all in one show, it has focuses on fiery romance, conspiracy, mind-boggling mystery, potential murder, big cats and animal activists, country songs, and strange fashion. The documentary leaves plenty of room for audience speculation and debate. The current quarantine gives many the opportunity to become absolutely invested in and learn about a world so different from our own.

Picture provided by at this link.

Written By: Alyssa Crum


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