I have a television. I forget this.
Not only do I have a television, but it’s a gargantuan television. And I rarely if ever switch it on. I did my best to chase the last film on Mubi for a while, but then the lure of paper pages suckered me back into the beautiful endless world of books. This evening though, having been an epic consumer of printed words, it seemed only right to lie back and let some words and pictures happen. I thought I’d go with something cultural. I put on Tiger King.
The Impostor. Making a Murderer. There’s something about the whole “Redneck Documentary” genre that draws me in. This one is about arrogance vs self righteousness. It’s about lack of perspective. Narcissism. Greed. It’s about big cats and about the broke idiots and the rich hypocrites that keep these creatures for their own self aggrandisement. And it’s about betrayal, lies and money.
It’s a well put together little piece, and one that landed just as we all got shut into our own homes so it had a wide reach. I felt I ought to have a reference point, so I could make sense of the memes. I prefer to try to be loosely up to date with the shit that people use as reference, (except for the talent shows the fake reality and the competition guff).
There’s a lot to mull over in Tiger King. It’s full of cowards and criminals, liars and losers. It reinforces the warning that you should never make yourself too visible. It’s about cruelty and intrangisence. And it’s about hundreds of wonderful beasts living from birth to death in cages, almost completely overlooked by the self serving fuckwits who think of them as an income stream or a chance to be cute. It’s worth watching even if it’s depressing. The cats are constant. The central people – all of them – are manipulative, self satisfied, mean spirited and generally more appropriate as fodder than keeper.
Maybe this is why I stick to books. At least the fantastic “true” construct of Shantaram keeps leaving little gems of beautifully expressed morality scattered in with all the perfect coincidences. I go to bed smiling and feeling connected to the eponymous author as he hacks together his personality through liberal application of trust, through almost supernatural stoicism and through almost impossible synchronicity. Reading Shantaram I somehow find myself thinking “I could’ve gone that way,” apart from my conviction that I’d be enthusiastic but ultimately dead if I got into a street fight. I go to bed dreaming India.
Watching The Tiger King just leaves a sour taste in my mouth and I’ll probably dream shouting manface. Bunch of self serving bastards. Watching it we forget so quickly and completely the names and behaviours of any of the animals and instead dive into the thorny criminality and ultimately the weakness and changeability of the humans who are exploiting their connection with these vast beauties of nature. There’s no excuse for doing that to so many lovely beasts. Not fragile masculinity. Not money. Not the cult of personality. Not self righteousness. The way that it’s cut, it feels like none of the humans give two fucks about the animals they have in their custody. Smart though. Three years or more of filming with no guarantee of distribution let alone the traction it has gained. I wonder how many years have gone into similar things that ultimately went to nothing. But keeping predatory animals? There’s a story there. And they tell it very well.
I’ve got Hex. A single predator, looked after temporarily. I worry when I bring him into The Tempest. He needs to be happy and comfortable or its no go. He is just one snake and I worry about him loads and watch his well being. He’s already carrying burns from a previous keeper the poor wee beasty. He needs to be loved.
I have him with me for a few minutes of a piece of work. And I worry enough about his well being through that. I’m having to shoot up and down to Hampstead loads just to satisfy myself that he’s watered and hasn’t pooed and has had some gravity. Usually I get there and nothing needs to be done but a clamber. But he is just one extremely easy animal and he’s enough worry for me thanks. Over 200 tigers? Maniacs.