Yes, the world is enraptured by Joe Exotic, one of the subjects of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. But is the empathy misplaced?
The now-imprisoned star of the Netflix documentary series has become the subject of many celebrity tweets, memes and the talk of, well, the internet. Joe Exotic is one of the big cat owners and former private zoo operator profiled in Tiger King. He's in prison now for charges in an attempted murder-for-hire plot targeting Carole Baskin, an animal activist and owner of a big cat sanctuary.
While some subjects of the documentary series, like Baskin, haven't been pleased with the series, according to filmmakers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, Joe Exotic has been loving the attention brought by Tiger King. In fact, he's even dream casting who would play him in a scripted version of his tale.
"He would like Brad Pitt or David Spade to play him," Chaiklin told The Hollywood Reporter. "He doesn't refer to David Spade as David Spade — he refers to him as ‘Joe Dirt.'"
Since Tiger King, videos of Joe Exotic, who ran for president and governor, using the "n" word have come out. Chaiklin told THR that Joe did say some "things when we were filming that were very upsetting." Why were they left out? "They didn't have a context in the story, but he has a lot to learn. I think most of it was ignorance and not having a lot of exposure, and I think he even evolved over the course of the time that we filmed," she said.
However, Goode wanted viewers to know that Joe "did a lot of horrible things."
"I would say it's very important for people to know this, that there seems to be an overwhelming amount of empathy for [Joe's current husband] Dillon. We had empathy for Joe, but Joe did a lot of horrible things. Joe committed some really serious crimes and Joe was not only cruel and inhumane to his animals, he was cruel to the people around him. I think it's very important for people to understand that Joe is an actor and he tells people what they want to hear," Goode said. "As much as we have some empathy for Joe and found Joe to be such an incredible character — this mullet-wearing country singer in Oklahoma — he did a lot of horrible things."
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is now streaming on Netflix.