It is estimated that over 34 million people have watched Tiger King so chances are you might have heard about it too (Forbes.com). It can feel like everyone is watching the docuseries. And you might be asking yourself, should I watch it too? It is a docuseries because it captures a story that viewers are interested in seeing even if they didn’t know it at the time. It is sort of like a car crash, you see the EMTs and you know the people are getting help but you cannot look away. It both captivates and sickens you all at the same time.
We believe that you should be in control of what you watch. This post isn’t to encourage or discourage you from watching this or any other content out there. Instead, we ask that you think of a few important questions while watching content that is problematic around mental health, sexual violence, and drug use. Then, we offer some tips for engaging with triggering content as we know that this docuseries has triggered some of our community.
As you are watching shows that explore violence, please consider the following questions:
- “What are the ways that this upholds values of violence, non-consent, and stigma around mental health?”
- “What are the ways that people (after viewing or even producing the series) can challenge the harmful non-consent culture presented in the materials?”
- “How does this piece of media contribute to, promote, or discourage awareness around the topics of non-violence and consent”
Asking these questions allows you to mental space to look at the piece of media you are de-constructing and to think critically. You can both have appreciated the entertainment while calling out the perpetuation of problematic issues in our society.
Here are some tips for consuming media that could be triggering (specifically some of the bullets relating to Tiger King):
- First, when it comes to Tiger King we want to offer an overall content warning for animal cruelty, non-consensual relationships, coercion, drug use, murder, and domestic violence We’d like to add an additional content warning for suicide in episode 5.
- Know your limits and check-in with yourself. Do a body scan to notice if you are feeling tense. Know that the most important thing you can do is to choose when and where you view content and to honor yourself as you do so. It can be so easy to binge a Netflix series, but do know that you can also view content in pieces if that would be safer for you.
- Practice self-care and self-soothing. If you find yourself feeling triggered, honor what your body is trying to tell you (that it felt unsafe or you have a self-care need to be met) and do things that comfort you. Drink something warm or cold. Take a gentle walk outside. Give yourself a hug or pat on the back. Talk to a friend, Snuggle up with something cozy. Do what honors you.
- Allow yourself to choose if you want to continue with the material or if you would like to skip it. You can always come back to it at a later time, but you are not obligated to finish a series or to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Whether you decide to watch Tiger King or not, know that your choices are your own and taking care of yourself is the most important thing! We are here for you!