Leanne Biltz

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, Madness: the Netflix original docuseries that takes us on a rollercoaster ride of “big cat” ownership. The show depicts the rivalry between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. Tigers, drugs, mullets, all the animal prints, it’s a lot. But are we missing something? While everyone is obsessing whether Carol Baskin killed her husband, are we missing the fact that the men portrayed in the documentary committed some heinous crimes against women and men? Maybe Carole did kill her husband, but she’s either a genius for getting away with it or an easy target for viewers to label a villain. One thing is for sure, Joe Exotic was the only one throughout the show to be consistently violent towards Carole. Exotic who shared violent misogynistic videos online of Baskin getting shot, having dildos in her mouth, and being portrayed by a blow up doll, is often viewed as the victim and Baskin is portrayed as the villain. Joe Exotic appeared to groom two straight men during the series with promises of meth, trucks, and guns for sexual gratification. This might have been overlooked or perceived as “no big deal” when men are the victims of grooming and sexual violence, but we need to take that seriously. Providing drugs for sexual gratification would inflict some sort of trauma on an individual. Just the other day I was driving through my college hometown and spray painted on the huge rock on front campus was “Free the Tiger King”. People really feel bad for this guy and maybe even scarier, they relate to him. Exotic is often heard saying “I’m gonna kill that b****.” The worst Baskin has done to Exotic is sue him for copyright infringement. And what about Doc Antle and his “sex cult” of young women he allegedly controls and only pays $100 a week for 16 hour days, 7 days a week? Does anyone remember the young woman who got breast augmentation, unwillingly, but admitted that she got the surgery so she could have a couple days off? Smells like Labor Trafficking to me. Labor Trafficking is defined as a form of human trafficking where victims are made to perform a task through force, fraud or coercion often with little pay and no breaks. The show quickly moved on from that episode and it was no longer mentioned. “Boys will be Boys” right? Then there is Jeff Lowe, the guy who smuggled baby tigers in suitcases into Las Vegas hotels to lure young women up to his hotel room, remarking “A little p*ssy gets you a lot of p*ssy”. Doc Antle and Jeff Lowe’s behavior were brushed off, yet again, with a “No Big Deal. Boys will be Boys attitude.” In the era of the #MeToo movement, I would hope that as a society we stop tolerating rape culture and violence against women, but alas this series shows we have a long way to go.