Tiger King (of Capitalism)

It seems like years ago, but the documentary Tiger King was released on Netflix just four months ago to couch-potatoe/critic acclaim. It came at the perfect time: we were still upbeat about a short lockdown and looking for some junk TV to pass the time between government-mandated “vacations”. It was perfect for binge-watching.

While going over the content of the documentary is moot at this point, it’s a testament to how well it captured the spirit of the times that it’s still in my head.

Take the scene when we learned that the restaurant on Joe Exotic’s Tiger “resort” served pizza’s with the same meat fed to the tigers. Meat that was cheap because it was way past it’s expiration date.

In another time, putting peoples’ lives in danger to save a few bucks might be too much for any businessman to condone. Yet for all the stupidity portrayed by Joe Exotic -and there are many examples- he is actually, in today’s America, a business genius.

You don’t believe me?

It’s simple, fast-forward a few months and take a look at where we are. In the U.S., Mexico and Brazil at least, we have clearly decided that putting peoples’ lives in danger is worth saving a few bucks. The scale is just larger. Joe Exotic: stale meat, Trump (& governors): masks.

There is another telling point: after a tiger rips Saff’s arm, Joe describes his biggest worry: “I’m never going to financially recover from this.”

We hear you Mr. Exotic, genius of modern capitalism. Who cares about +131 thousand deaths from COVID-19, as long as the stock market is “financially recovering” (wink, wink)?

Off course, there are thousands of factors that might be influencing the spread of COVID-19 -just like many influenced the demise of Joe- but I can’t help to draw a parallel between the greed and laser-focus on short-term results of a tiger breeder and the people we elect to lead.