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I Clicked and Seven Hours Passed: Netflix’s “Tiger King”

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March 26, 2020
 

Joe Exotic poses with a tiger The Netflix show “Tiger King” follows the rise and fall of an eccentric zoo entrepreneur known as Joe Exotic, whose story stretches even the most vivid imagination.Photograph from Netflix

 
 
 
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During my first days social-distancing, I tried to distract myself from my anxiety by bingeing television shows, but nothing was sticking. I started to rewatch “Grey’s Anatomy,” but the actors’ steady supply of sterile masks reignited my simmering rage about the current lack of personal protective equipment for the doctors working on the front lines of the pandemic. (To their credit, the producers of the show recently offered to donate any excess medical supplies lingering in their costume shop). I thought I might sink into the blunt banality of dating shows, but watching contestants paw at one another without latex gloves only made me squirm. Then, last Friday, a documentary series called “Tiger King” appeared on Netflix. I clicked, and suddenly seven hours had passed.

VIDEO FROM THE NEW YORKER

“Tiger King” follows the rise and fall of an eccentric Oklahoma zoo entrepreneur known as Joe Exotic, whose story stretches even the most vivid imagination. Joe (who was born Joseph Schreibvogel, in rural Kansas) is a gay, polygamous, gun-toting libertarian with a platinum-blond mullet, who, for two decades, operated a small independent zoological park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. At one point, the sixteen-acre park boasted more than a hundred tigers, as well as lions, bears, alligators, chimpanzees, and other exotic fauna. Visitors paid for hands-on experiences with the wildlife, such as tiger-cub petting sessions. This feline profiteering raised the hackles of an animal-rights activist in Florida named Carole Baskin, a dotty, hippie-ish blonde who wears almost exclusively leopard-print clothing and floral crowns. Baskin, who co-ran an exotic-cat-themed bed-and-breakfast before launching Big Cat Rescue, a sanctuary for abused animals, becomes hellbent on using her energy (and the millions of dollars she inherited from her late husband) to end the private breeding of wild cats and to shut down Exotic’s zoo.

 

What unfolds from this years-long scrimmage is too delicious to give away, but it involves a cast of colorful oddballs living on the fringes of society, including but not limited to: a big-cat tycoon who may or may not be running a marriage cult from his property; a chain-smoking former network-television reporter who moves to Exotic’s zoo to create a doomed reality show; a swarthy con man who takes over the zoo in a dastardly coup; a burly fall guy who becomes a secret informant for the F.B.I.; and a zoo employee who returns to work not even two weeks after a tiger rips off part of his arm. “Tiger King” exposes the furry underbelly of a big-cat community I’d never known about, in which the lines between loving wild animals and exploiting them are never quite clear. In the end, I felt queasy at what I had seen, but the time sure had flown.

 
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Rachel Syme is a staff writer at The New Yorker. She has covered fashion, style, and other cultural subjects since 2012.

 

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/i-clicked-and-seven-hours-passed-netflixs-tiger-king


L*t is a loser

 

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Wait... it's not about Siegfried and Roy?

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This is the craziest documentary I have every seen, just watch it.


L*t is a loser

 

My adapt a Bill is Brandon Beane.

 

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Jungle, did you notice the cameo that makes it related to the board?  I haven't seen it but saw it mentioned.


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