tigris regem

Of course I’ve seen Tiger King. Are you kidding me? I watched that shit the weekend it dropped. I was ending my first week in quarantine and was as edgy and stressed and terrified as anyone else who didn’t vote for Trump, so I had slightly too many edibles, zonked out on the couch, and hit “Play” on the first thing Netflix suggested. 

(I don’t recommend doing that as a coping mechanism, by the way. Life is stressful enough right now. Don’t roll those Netflix dice.)

Here’s my review, and it shan’t be lengthy:

Watching Tiger King is like shutting down a dive bar with a charismatically ill-mannered stranger and then, not wanting to part but knowing full well you should also never see this person again, agreeing to join them for a few hours of off-books gambling at some underground cockfight. The camaraderie ends when the cops bust the door open and you find yourself shoved into the hot morning sun with cotton mouth and bloody feathers on your shoes and a certainty that even though you can’t remember most of what happened, it definitely wasn’t good. Though it might make for a really good story. Someday. Or maybe never. Maybe nobody should ever know your secret shame.

Tiger King is filled to the brim with such awful people who could still manage to be delightful if it weren’t for their perilous tendency to violently repurpose their unresolved traumas and untreated personality disorders into abusive behavior toward everyone and everything around them. The one willing participant in this carnival of horrors who might yet escape with his soul intact is Joe Exotic’s former campaign manager, who has leveraged his notoriety from the series to start an online fundraiser for his PTSD treatment, because in this country he has better odds of getting his health insurance to cover a phrenology appointment than a therapy session. 

The fact that Mario Tabraue comes off looking like the most sane and composed individual in this motley crew of fucktard misogynists, hapless cons, and brazen black widows should keep viewers awake for years. But it won’t, because this series dropped right in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, a moment in which Americans collectively realized that we’re all just living in a poorly-managed zoo ourselves.

In short? It’s end times TV at its finest. It’s eight hours of shadily edited footage of real life in a nation where it’s perfectly legal to keep live tigers in your double wide, run a concentration camp and call it a volunteer program, acquire and detonate endless firearms and explosives, and help yourself all to the expired meat WalMart won’t sell (wow, I never realized until just now that ISIS and the state of Oklahoma had so much in common). It’s a high definition laundry list of all the things the framers didn’t intend when they wrote the Constitution, and yet a surprisingly accurate inventory of everything bad that results when you steal a continent from its indigenous people, declare it the freest country on earth for a bunch of dumb white guys who have no business being there, and let them just run shit into the ground for about two hundred and fifty years.

Watch it, enjoy it, but be prepared to feel a filthiness afterward that no amount of Lysol can purge. You will feel like trash for watching it, and that is because you are trash. We are all trash. USA! USA! USA! 


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