Tiger King: More than Big Cat Industry Corruption

Morgane Inhaber '22, Contributing Writer

During quarantine, the story of the Netflix documentary “Tiger King” has caused nonstop debate and conversation among family and friends. “Tiger King” was released on March 20; it focuses on the conflict between Joe Exotic and Carol Baskin. Throughout the show, Baskin campaigns for the G.W. Zoo to be closed while Exotic produces videos slandering Baskin. He is convinced she killed her husband and fed him to the tigers.

While there is a consensus that Baskin is the criminal who deserves to be in jail, the star of the show, Exotic, has both supporters and nonsupporters. My take on this whole show: this whole thing is an example of good intentions destroyed by the gain of power.

Exotic is simply someone who has never been fully accepted by society, and he lives each day craving to be loved. While his admiration for tigers and big cats filled the void in his heart, the attention his zoo drew got to his head. He then turned all of his hate on to Baskin as an outlet to reflect his internal frustration with the lack of acceptance he received from his parents.

Yet, he was unable to properly deal with this frustration, thus leading to death threats and over the top hate towards Baskin. While Baskin arguably deserves some punishment for her actions (all evidence points towards her murdering her husband), the hate Exotic threw at her turned to a deadly problem by the end.

However, I can’t help but draw a parallel between the hate that Exotic holds inside, and the stress he had over losing his zoo. It seems to me, that the more Exotic was losing control of the only thing that brought him joy, he subconsciously turned this anger over to Baskin as he began planning a murder for hire.

Additionally, I don’t think Exotic ever really experienced someone that fully loved him until the end, since his two husbands before only married him to manipulate him for drugs and other benefits. With Baskin thinking she is doing right by the animals, I feel as though Exotic and Baskin are doing the same harm and neither of them is in the right.

I recommend this show to people who are intrigued by drama and animals because it will definitely grab the viewer’s attention. Definitely a binge worthy show.

Overall, I think the story of “Tiger King” is so much more than the care of animals and corruption within the big cat industry, I think it also is a story of someone who never learned how to deal with his trauma, and turned to big cats for the feeling of safety.