The Tiger King and Coronavirus

We can say without equivocation that we are the “Tiger King” Nation.

I can’t think of anything more appropriate than the fact the top trending TV show in America right now is the Netflix series “Tiger King.” Not that the show appears to have any redeeming value, but it is just the type of mindless nonsense we seem to be attracted to as a culture. Locked away in our homes in fear, Tiger King seems to be the respite some feel we need.

In the middle of the pandemic of 2020, to some an anti-hero has emerged sporting a bleached blond mullet, possessing the fashion sense of an 80s hair band, who also happens to go by the name of Joe Exotic, the Tiger King (real name: Joe Maldonado-Passage). If ever you needed a reason for “social distancing,” it would be the cast of Tiger King.

In times of crisis we are bombarded with over-the-top feel-good articles, “kumbaya” memes, and of course the passive-aggressive threats directed at those that dare to walk their dogs more than twice a day. I think our pandemic “jumped the shark” moment came when a major fast food restaurant chain decided to use the song “What the World Needs Now is Love” to promote their milk shake (excuse me, “Frosty”). Because when I think “apocalypse,” naturally I think frozen delights. But of course, we are not in an apocalypse, far from it. We are less “Mad Max,” and more “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.”

We are inundated with self-absorbed celebrities lecturing us from their million-dollar mansions on how we should “shelter in place.” While people are losing their jobs and our economy is disintegrating before our eyes, it is refreshing to know the very people who routinely attack the “1%” want us to know “we are in this together.” Gee, we should feel so much better.

We even got to spend a few moments with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she broadcast eating tips from her luxury abode. Standing in front of a set of freezers that cost more than many Americans make in a year, Pelosi truly was the beacon of solidarity.

In what some have described as Pelosi’s “Marie Antoinette” moment, she opened her freezer and explained how in times of crisis she likes to indulge in gourmet ice cream that costs no less than $12 a pint. I am sure most Americans can’t wait to get their stimulus check and go right out (online of course) to “scoop up” these scrumptious pleasures.

My favorite was Trevor Noah of the Daily Show, broadcasting from his home with his oversized frumpy sweatshirt and beard stubble. This staged, disheveled appearance is not only ridiculous, but insulting to those who are no longer collecting a paycheck, unlike “man of the people” Noah. Apparently in the “apocalypse,” electric razors don’t work and wearing a button-down shirt is a pandemic fashion faux pas.

Our society is so ill-prepared for these types of events that we shouldn’t be surprised that our first instinct was to run to the supermarket and grab all the toilet paper we could. I understand the psychology behind this phenomenon, but I will never understand the pure lack of survival skills we possess when toilet paper is the first item we think of for our very existence, and how quickly we descend into panic.

The essential duty, the primary responsibility of our governments is to protect our safety and our liberty. Don’t blame Trump, Obama, and Bush for the mess we find ourselves in, we have only ourselves to blame. We waste time and money funding tea pot museums and watching mindless garbage on TV, but barely pay attention to what is actually going on around us. Then, when a crisis occurs, we rush to the grocery store to gather up all the toilet paper (at times fighting our neighbors for the convenience of a clean butt) and scurry home to watch the “Tiger King.” As I said, less Mad Max and more Pee-Wee Herman.

Think about it. As a nation, we once funded a $2 million study to document the effects of alcohol and HIV related to Chinese sex workers. Maybe I am missing something, but I must believe this money would have been better spent on ventilators and other medical supplies. We were worried about Chinese prostitutes when we should have been worried about Chinese pandemics.

The toilet paper hoarding is a funny symbol of how truly selfish most in our society are. When panic sets in, far too many of us will only think of ourselves. Those same people hoarding toilet paper are the same ones publicly shaming those that dare to walk out in public during this “extinction-level” event.

Please don’t get me wrong. I understand with absolute clarity exactly how dangerous this pandemic is. I also understand how absolutely insane some in our society have been in response to this event. There is no middle of the road when attempting to discuss the collective madness that has blanketed our nation. We once again are faced with another “you are either with us or you are against us moment.” I have been criticized and ridiculed for pointing out that as much as we needed to approach this pandemic with caution, some in the media and our public officials created a panic that only served to worsen our situation.

Pandemic or not, Tiger King was destined to be a “hit.” Tiger King is our “blue pill,” the placebo we prefer to prescribe ourselves instead of taking the “red pill,” and face the harsh reality of our societal ill-preparedness.

We will look back at this moment and find very little pride. But at least now we know who the essential people are. So, to the store clerks, the grocery store workers, gas station attendants, cleaners, service technicians, first responders and medical personnel, thank you.

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