The year 2020 will go down as a turning point in the world’s history. The world economy had come to a standstill, the likes of which we had not seen since The Great Depression, and everyone was stuck at home. Two things that marked the beginning of the COVID lockdown were Tiger King and Dalgona coffee. In retrospect, both of them were over-hyped. But is the lockdown the only reason we developed an interest in Joe Exotic? Why is Tiger King so popular?
Who is Joe Exotic?
It is highly unlikely one would not be aware of Joe Exotic, considering Tiger King’s popularity, but introductions are in order. To begin with, Joe Exotic is an American media personality, entrepreneur, felon, and arguably the most popular meme of 2020. Exotic used to operate illegal big cat breeding, animal abuse and subsequently, hired a hitman for Big Cat activist Carole Baskin.
Tiger King is an elaborate docu-series about Exotic and his feud with Carole Baskin. The series focuses a bit too much on Baskin’s personal life and now has a second season, as well. The first season itself had too many unnecessary details and the second one seemed redundant.
But, Tiger King bagged 64 million views on Netflix within the first four weeks of its release. The docu-series was one of Netflix’s biggest releases. It only makes sense for the creators to capitalize off it as much as they can, making the second season seem a more logical decision.
But why is Tiger King so popular?
To all non-American viewers, watching Tiger King felt like watching something straight out of a fantasy movie. Tiger King was an exclusively American experience. Viewers finally understood the impact of the lack of paperwork, be it gun control or animal abuse. Only in the United States of America can you buy a tiger with no significant paperwork. The experience was very foreign to viewers all over the world because of the microscopic possibility of this happening in their own country. To non-Americans, Tiger King was the perfect blend of fantasy and reality.
As for Americans, Tiger King was living proof of failure in their legal systems. The story of Joe Exotic had it all-an attempted murder, animal cruelty, a conspiracy theory surrounding a powerful woman’s missing husband, and a weird gay man with a mullet who has a taste for straight men. Nothing about the series, even to natives of the country, was predictable. The series was dark and, of course, made you think. But it wasn’t haunting and horrifying in the way, say, murder documentaries are.
The one thing that drew both Americans and non-Americans to the Tiger King bandwagon was the social media impact. Unless one has been living under a rock, there is no denying that social media controls a large part of our daily lives. Be it Black Lives Matter or popularizing brands like Laneige, social media shapes the minds of young people. And Tiger King, as serious as it, happened to be the perfect meme. One simply couldn’t get through 2020 without hearing their friends quoting Carole Baskin’s “hey you cats and kittens“.
At the beginning of what people expected to be a two-week-long lockdown, Tiger King’s popularity was rising wildly. And there was simply no reason for most people not to look into it. Other than that, the series offers nothing thrilling or unsettling.