Netflix (NFLX) has done it again by releasing an extremely wild and controversial documentary series, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. It is an absolutely insane roller coaster of emotional twists and turns that will leave you shocked at the end of every episode. Mark Twain said, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.” This series has already infected meme culture and has gone as far as causing sheriffs to open cold case files. While millions of Americans are sitting at home in quarantine from the Coronavirus, Netflix has been so gracious as to provide us with entertaining binge-able content.
While I can talk about the drama between the Tiger King and Carole Baskins all day, I want to bring attention to a specific part at 8 minutes and 30 seconds (8:30) into Episode 5: Make America Exotic Again, where we are introduced to Joshua Dial. Dial expresses that he served as Joe Exotics campaign manager for a year and a half. He then begins recounting a horrific event that occurred with a fellow co-worker. Again, I don’t want to provide any context for the comment because that might spoil the show for some, and the comment itself is irrelevant to my concern, but Dial proceeds to say, “It was the worst experience of my life. It was horrible. Horrible, horrible.”
The very next cut, he is seen taking a drag off a vaporizer, breaths out a whimpering moan, and begins to deliver a wet cough. Now, the savvy may dismiss this because it seems he is using a device that looks designed to deliver THC oil or (in congruence with other members of the show) may have been modified to accept a much harder substance. But what about those who are less versed in vaping? Is Netflix initially trying to create a paired association between negative feelings and vaping by adding those 5 seconds of footage after those comments? We can only speculate but I do know one thing. Presenting vaping, a safer alternative to smoking, in these kinds of lights continues to spread misinformation and influences legislators to act against vaping products, condemning millions of people around the world to less effective options. We need to make sure Netflix and any other content creators know that vaping as an alternative will be necessary as long as combustible cigarettes exist and this kind of presentation cannot be tolerated.
How do you feel about how vaping is portrayed in big media? Do you think Netflix is subtly taking a position against vape? Share your comments below.