Will Joe Exotic Save the World?

Netflix has announced they will be gracing humanity with a Tiger King sequel and, according to the current state of my mental health, the timing could not be more perfect. The first Tiger King met us at a dark time. The entire world had basically shut down. No work. No school. We were practically running our mail through a dishwasher cycle before we opened it. All the toilet paper just vanished.

It was a terrifying and confusing time, but we were all terrified and confused together. Plus, we were just going to be inconvenienced for a couple of weeks and this would all blow over, right? So, just sit down in the sweatpants you were wearing for days on end and enjoy the a tale even more outlandish and unbelievable than the one we were collectively experiencing.

Two weeks has turned into almost two years and here we are, living like the pandemic is over when it’s not. Our brains, ravenous for more outlandish tales involving sequins and meth. My brain is sitting at the table, napkin delicately tucked into the collar of its shirt, fork and knife ready to feast. I will tell you, though, if the sequel isn’t hours of Geraldo Rivera trying to dig up the body of Carole Baksin’s husband I’m going to be a little bit disappointed.

For me, my first introduction to Joe Exotic feels like a lifetime ago. I was scared back then, but hopeful. I had a hell of a lot more friends back then. I think we all did. QAnon took care of them. I’d yet to know anyone who had the disease, let alone died from it. I can no longer say that anymore. Back then I’d never be able to imagine people of sound mind and body would rather strip the shelves of their local feed store than take an effective and safe vaccine. But here we are.

I’m vaccinated now, as is my entire family. I don’t fear death from this disease, but I have grown weary watching so many people have so little regard for the safety and wellbeing of their friends and family. I’m tired of fearing for their lives when they couldn’t be bothered to give a damn about mine.

How exactly does one cope with people they love becoming increasingly untethered from reality, buying into wild conspiracy theories, and denying common sense? How do we reconcile all this needless death and suffering? At this point, if you don’t know someone who chose to ‘do their own research’ and ended up dead because of it I’d like to know what faraway island you’ve been living on and if you have any vacancies left.

The fear we collectively had during the first Tiger King felt like it could manifest into actions that would steer us together to the solution. That obviously didn’t happen. Instead we went in two vastly different directions and the solution is nowhere in sight. That fear, for me, is slowly being replaced with apathy. Frankly, I find that more terrifying.

Maybe Joe and company will fix it. Maybe they’ll place us back in the right direction, the same direction, the one that gets us the hell out of this mess. Wouldn’t these two documentaries be the perfect nonsensical bookends to wrap up these nearly two nonsensical years? I’m doubtful, but I’m looking forward to a new distraction.