fbpx
06/08/2020 The Communication Science magazine

Tiger King and The Power of the Media Jungle: A Decode

A fan of Tiger King? Stephanie looks into the success of the hit Netflix docuseries which became unexpectedly popular during the COVID-19 self-isolation.


The Tiger King frenzy has invaded every corner of the Internet: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Although most viewers are bedazzled by the outrageous yet enticing feud between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, the series proves to be a classic example of how influential and impactful the media can be through the characters’ manipulation of media use and through the documentary’s astronomical success. (Warning: Spoiler alert!)

Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin and Social Media: The Triple Threat

Social media has proven its role to ignite and accelerate the hatred between Joe and Carole through their openly vicious online attacks. Joe Exotic is not exactly the quietest hateful type as he brazenly threatens Baskin with violent and vile language through his less-than-popular Youtube videos and Facebook posts. Joe shamelessly bragged that he “fills [Carole’s] mailbox with snakes, makes memes about her crotch, and <…> fantasizes about torturing her with a horse penis.” He even made a music video alluding to the show’s other mystery: Carole’s alleged involvement in her husband’s disappearance. With Joe’s blatant attempts of berating Baskin’s reputation, he is a textbook Internet troll: trying to aggressively gather attention and urge them to believe his conspiracy theories.

Carole Baskin is Joe’s antithesis: composed, care-free, and relatable. With her signature catchphrase, “Hey, all you cool cats and kittens!” Baskin won the Internet over by showcasing the animals and their caregivers enjoying each other’s company. Contrary to Joe’s abnormal media use, Baskin is no amateur: utilizing social media to her advantage and facilitating a loyal fellowship with hundreds of thousands of views on her Youtube channel.  

As we are wrapped up in the show’s stories and the characters’ morally questionable actions, it creates a “feeling of being part of a moment”.

Tiger King: The modern COVID escapist haven

Since I am not Tiger King’s number one supporter, I was bewildered by its exponential fame. As the show has been blown out of proportion, one must wonder: What makes this hellish show so charming, even in its twisted ways? 

Our current circumstances and the documentary form an unusual dynamic. The series provided an escapist paradise where reality is suspended (for seven hours). As we are wrapped up in the show’s stories and the characters’ morally questionable actions, it creates a “feeling of being part of a moment”. Another factor that contributes to the series’ fame are the shockingly stunning visuals. According to The Atlantic, the image of “humans and tigers so intimately connected” feeds into humans’ wildest, glorious dreams of owning these “kings of the jungles.” The prominence of visuals is also demonstrated in the series, where Tinder users feature photos of them touching and petting tigers. Anything for that right swipe, right? 

Exotic Stories, Exotic Reality-TV Stars

However, the key elements that differentiate Tiger King from other Netflix Originals are undoubtedly the compelling narrative and the cast’s enigmatic personalities. As the series uncovers the characters’ mysteries, it constructs this unreal world of “its own rituals and language and images.” It represents the epitome of “pop-cultural imagination,” where Netflix takes storytelling to an extremity: “the more unfathomable and ethically dubious, the better.” The series’ key theme basically surrounds the exploitation of the animals and the people who work for Joe, and yet, we are entertained by it. The show’s creators grasp this mechanism, as the director admits that “the people are almost more interesting than the exotic animals they’re keeping.” This is the series’ biggest weakness: they barely focus on the abuse and cruelty that the animals face. This sentiment is best encapsulated by Rebecca Chaiklin, the co-director:

“We really struggled a lot with the fact that the characters, oftentimes, and their colorful lifestyles and their cult-like facilities trumped many of the issues that we were really interested in addressing in the piece.”

Nevertheless, the series would not receive the same amount of recognition without Joe Exotic’s shenanigans and ludicrous personality. Joe Exotic single-handedly transformed the docuseries into a reality TV show! With a “grandiose sense of self-importance, need for excessive admiration, exploitation of others, and lack of empathy,” Joe is the “perfect kind of reality star” whose actions are designed to incite the “greatest possible shock value.” Before the hit docuseries, Joe Exotic had made a name for himself in local news as the crazy zookeeper whose personal life could entice any viewer. According to Polygon, since the characters are so ridiculous, it creates “escapism” where we “vicariously experience what it might be like to act on our worst impulses,” pulling us and those around them into their preposterous worlds.  

A Downturn for the Film Industry?

While Tiger King does not fulfill its educational purpose, it nonetheless depicts the ever-changing, fast-paced film industry. The series morphs into a cocktail of documentary, entertainment, and reality TV. While it aims towards balanced viewpoints, financial considerations from the entertainment-centric Netflix production can potentially override the creative decisions of directors.

The series’ accuracy is also being questioned, as its portrayals of the zoo owners might have caused disturbing misconceptions. Glen Zipper, a documentary producer and writer, expresses his concern: “If we’re delivering something to you that is factually inaccurate — particularly when it has to do with something <…> critically important — that ultimately could be quite dangerous.” And since the show has not slowed its course, its manifested cultural obsession poses real dangers, “normalizing behaviors that should alarm us.”

This series is only the beginning of the industry’s expansion into this morally compromised universe.

 

The World Responded, for the Better or the Worse

Memes defending Joe and hashtags such as #FreeJoeExotic and #JusticeforJoe have caused an Internet outburst. Celebrities such as Cardi B, Jared Leto, and Snoop Dogg have expressed their love for the show. Joe, who is in prison for his hire-for-murder scheme, is ecstatic about his newfound fame and anti-hero cult status. However, not everyone became the Internet’s evil hero as memes villainizing Carole Baskin have also taken off, much to her dismay, as revealed in her blog post

This series is only the beginning of the industry’s expansion into this morally compromised universe. However, the extra episode titled Tiger King and I did not receive the same acclaim as the main series, as it is seen as “an attempt to feed the show’s popularity churn with minimal effort.” Many fans have proposed the series being adapted to the big screen, as Joe Exotic himself states his preference of actors Brad Pitt and David Spade to play himself. Investigation Discovery, a true-crime channel, has also announced a sequel titled “Investigating the Strange World of Joe Exotic” that will dive into the disappearance of Don Lewis, Carole Baskin’s husband, through Joe Exotic’s perspective.

Much like how Joe exploits his animals for entertainment, the media will squeeze these captivating and dramatic stories and characters with every imaginable format. Soon enough, the industry moguls will discard the repercussions into oblivion and continue the self-perpetuated cycle of entertainment products until another exotic trend triumphs…

 

Cover: Netflix via Fatherly

Reacties

reacties

Related Posts

Teenage Girls in the Army: A Closer Look at the Fictional Country of Ravka

04/08/2020

04/08/2020

Fictional young girls and boys are fighting together in the army for their country Ravka. Danny explains why literature sets an example for equality in the military.

Folklore: Taylor Swift At Her Best While The World Is At Its Worst

01/08/2020

01/08/2020

Emma uses her Swiftie superpowers to unveil what’s hidden behind Taylor Swift's new album "folklore"

How Internet COVID-19 Face Mask Memes Tackle Skeptics in the Digital Age

30/07/2020

30/07/2020

In this article, Quynh talks about COVID-19 face mask memes. Are they just entertainment or do they also raise awareness?

The Secret Way to Good Grades – But One That Everyone Uses

29/07/2020

29/07/2020

Ritalin seems like the secret way to get a good grade when there is not enough time and too much workload. Jorrit explains why especially Communication Science students are keen to try it.

Delayed

24/07/2020

24/07/2020

In this article, Margarete dives into why Hollywood movie studios delayed the release dates of blockbusters, including Christopher Nolan's newest creation "Tenet."

Jemen: De grootste humanitaire crisis ter wereld die niet vergeten mag worden

18/07/2020

18/07/2020

Onze schrijver Elsa vertelt alles over de oorlog in Jemen die maar niet de nodige aandacht krijgt, en hoe jij kan helpen.

FSR-FMGxMEDIUM: Goodbye council of 2019/2020!

14/07/2020 and

14/07/2020

Together with the members of the FSR-FMG of 2019/2020 Medium is looking back on working together, teambuilding, learning new things and other memories at the end of the member's acedemic year.

Why We Should Cancel ‘Cancel Culture’

13/07/2020

13/07/2020

What does it mean to get cancelled these days? Emma explains the downfall of cancel culture and why it should get cancelled.

Is Hamilton Getting #Cancelled?

09/07/2020

09/07/2020

In this article, Rita writes about the in-demand musical Hamilton and the criticism it receives.

FSR-FMGxMEDIUM: File Update

30/06/2020

30/06/2020

This academic year has ended and so has the term of the current student council. In this article, Medium gives you an insight into the FSR-FMG’s achievements of this year.

Netflix’s “Queer Eye” Season 5 Review: Spreading Human Connection in Lonely Times

30/06/2020

30/06/2020

Quynh reviews the latest season of the Netflix Original 'Queer Eye'. This season continues the sociopolitical crusade of the Fab 5 in Philidelphia.

Movie theatres: Safely “escaping” 2020

23/06/2020

23/06/2020

What better way to escape the anxieties this year has brought us than by getting lost in a good movie? This article provides you with a list of Amsterdam's must visit movie theaters, for the ultimate escape from reality.

Usage of Surveillance Drones Over Black Lives Matter Protests in the USA

19/06/2020

19/06/2020

The murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020, sparked Black Lives Matter protests all over the U.S. Five years after BLM protests were calling for justice after the murder of Freddie Gray, the U.S. government has resorted to drone surveillance as it did in 2015. However, the questions remain, what are they watching?, why are they watching? and what happens to protesters' data in the footage?

“Er komt een tijd dat stilte verraad is”

18/06/2020

18/06/2020

Na de dood van George Floyd is de wereld gezamenlijk opgestaan om racisme te bestrijden. Elsa schrijft in dit artikel over drie acties die je kan ondernemen om wit privilege en racisme beter te begrijpen en zo je steentje kan bijdragen voor een betere wereld.

The Pros And Cons Of Studying Online

17/06/2020

17/06/2020

Online-learning continues throughout next semester of the UvA. Andrada tells us what this means for the quality of academic education.

bayan escort escort bayan mersin escort bayan escort brazzers tecavüz porno altyazili porno porno hikayeleri turbanlı porno escort bayan bayan escort escort bayan
mersin escort