Monday, November 29, 2021

If you watch Tiger King 2 and think you are better than Joe Exotic, you are wrong

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Netflix’s cult hit allows viewers to sit back and judge Joe Exotic without admitting that they also play a role in the exploitation

Everyone agrees that animal abuse is wrong – but nobody wants to believe they are involved in it. Broadcasts like Tiger King Take this line carefully by challenging some eccentric characters and allowing viewers to stay in their comfort zone: our behavior is never questioned.

Tiger King, a true crime documentary that tells the life of Oklahoma zoo owner Joe Exotic, and his rivalry with animal rights activist Carole Baskin, was an instant hit for Netflix in 2020; According to its figures, it was seen by 34.3 million people in the first 10 days of publication and by a total of 64 million in the first month. It returns next week for a second series as one of the streamer’s key original assignments.

While Exotic is currently in jail, serving a 22-year sentence on a plot of murder against Baskin and 17 animal abuse charges, it seems unlikely that program makers will be forced to change the formula. Instead, the viewers can again judge the diagonally framed “Murder, Chaos and Madness” from the comfort of their own home, horrified by the spectacle when other animals use animals for entertainment while they are being entertained themselves.

As a vegan and animal liberator, I don’t have time for Joe Exotic and his exploitative nature. But I don’t want to single out him as a villain like the programmers did. The scene with so many tigers in an overcrowded cage on the first series shocked viewers. But is it more shocking when 70 billion animals are slaughtered for their meat every year, around 70 percent of which are raised on overcrowded factory farms? Is it more shocking than the 2,325 horses that have died on UK racetracks since 2007?

When Exotic decided that his captured tigers were no longer useful to him – that is, when they were no longer profitable – they would “disappear” or be sold to even more unsavory characters. This is not unlike what happens to racehorses when they are too old to run fast: many are slaughtered and sold as animal feed or driven to laboratories to experiment.

When viewers saw Joe Exotic steal newborn tiger cubs from their mothers within days of their birth, they were angry. Rightly so: These breakups are traumatizing for mother and child – the boys cry out for their mothers, and according to animal behaviorists, the mothers show persistent depression.

But this practice is reflected in dairy farms across the UK. When a dairy cow is born, her calf is usually driven away within 36 hours. This is how the farmer benefits: by selling the milk that the mother made for her baby. Some studies claim that the suckler cow can cry for days after separation.

At the heart of all animal exploitation is speciesism: the idea that some species have more moral rights than others. But those who eat cows, pigs, and sheep often judge those who eat dogs. What’s the difference besides your upbringing? People angrily name and shame trophy hunters on social media, then eat a steak. Dogs in hot cars make people angry, but live farm animals that are transported across countries and continents before their bodies land on your plate is “good value”.

It wasn’t long ago that animals were routinely exploited for entertainment in circuses. We have come a long way, but animal exploitation remains everywhere.

A show that encourages us to point the finger at others instead of thinking about our own roles may be more appealing, but ultimately it prevents us from realizing how we, too, are like Joe Exotic

Tiger King 2 is on Netflix from Wednesday, November 17th

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