Tiger King: Can We Stop Giving Joe Exotic So Much Attention, Please?

The convicted felon built his reputation by abusing everyone around him, yet three different TV series promise to give him exactly what he wanted all the long… fame.

Joe Exotic

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

This morning it was announced that Nicolas Cage will play Joe Exotic in a new miniseries based on his life as the so-called Tiger King. It’s now the third TV series to come out about the convicted felon in the last two months.

According to Variety, the new CBS miniseries is based on an article published in Texas Monthly called Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild by Leif Registad. With Cage playing the lead, he’s the only actor confirmed so far by showrunners Dan Lagana and Paul Young.

Since the Netflix docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, turned global phenomenon – with over 64 million views since its March release – interest in the animal abuser has peaked. Alongside this Nicolas Cage-fronted TV show, there is also set to be another scripted drama based on a podcast about him called Joe Exotic: Tiger King.

With all of this in mind, it begs the question… are we not giving Joe Exotic too much attention at this point? Yes, the Netflix documentary was unbelievable TV and a story worth being told. But, despite the fact nearly every character in the show disagreeing on every incident that happened, there was one clear consensus they could all agree on: Exotic was desperate to be famous.

‘He’ll be loving all of this,’ a number of Exotic’s former employees told aftershow host Joel McHale following the immense reaction to the series. In fact, when Joe himself was interviewed in prison by Netflix after the show's release, he said, ‘It would be nice if I could actually see me being famous out there but I’ve seen these same four walls for a year and a half now.’

Now, he’s even using his public profile to drum up support for overturning his murder-for-hire and animal abuse convictions. Not only has he filed a $94million lawsuit against the US federal government, he’s seeking a Presidential pardon to be exonerated on all charges.

The thing is, whatever you think about Exotic’s conviction for murder-for-hire – whether you believe his innocence (as many do) or not – the fact remains that he belongs in prison. There was not only enough evidence to convict him for nine years with two counts of murder-for-hire, but also eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act – for which he was sentenced to 13 years.

According to the U.S Department of Justice, ‘The jury heard evidence that Maldonado-Passage personally shot and killed five tigers in October 2017, without a veterinarian present and in violation of the Endangered Species Act.’

So, regardless of whether or not he was allegedly framed for the murder-for-hire plot – might I remind you of the countless public threats he made to Carol Baskin’s life and the fact he literally filled her letterbox with poisonous snakes – he would be serving 13 years in prison alone for endangering animals that never should’ve been caged in the first place.

Exotic might be a meme now, the ludicrous lead in a show we can send each other jokes about, but the reality is it was a documentary exposing an abusive man who broke countless laws, publicly stalked and threatened his ‘enemies’ and allegedly abused everyone around him. The central theme of which, was about his pursuit to be a worldwide phenomenon, the most famous zoo-owner in the world. The Tiger King.

He’s already achieved that status with the Netflix show, so must we feed that frenzy more by recycling story after story about his endless thirst for attention? Yes, it’s a story we all want to know more about – but it’s also a story that if told enough will only incite others to achieve the same level of infamy he has using similarly dangerous and abusive means.

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