The Netflix show “Tiger King” produced, and brought to light, a highly talked about character, Carole Baskin. There are songs about her, merchandise on sale with her sayings and she is referenced often in social media posts and other media platforms. In a day and age were social media and virality go hand in hand, it is quite common for controversial characters to go viral.
Carole Baskin first went viral in the beginning of 2020. The mixture of quarantine boredom and the suspicious disappearance of Baskin’s first husband brought an uproar of conspiracy theories on what happened to him and her involvement. The theories surrounded Baskin and her supposedly killing her husband and then feeding him to the tigers. This resulted in hundreds of TikTok videos and a song. As of September the lyric video for “Tiger King Song”, that was about Baskin and used in TikTok videos, had 1.8 million views.
More recently, Carole Baskin is back in the spotlight and has gotten more attention for a new reason. She will be on the new season of “Dancing with the Stars”. An article on the Fox 13 News website reported on her “Dancing with the Stars” debut but less on her dancing skills or her excitement of the show and more on her troubles on the Netflix docuseries and personal life. Baskin is in almost every headline for any article about the season 29 celebrity cast. She is a prominent character and a huge source of interest for audiences. The internet is extremely interested as well as invested in Carole Baskin, her job and her personal life. Not everyone on television can pull the audience in like she can, for both negative and positive reasons. I think that most news sources are using Carole Baskin’s online presence to their advantage. When the news broke that she was a part of the cast, social media feeds were going crazy. There were posts saying “If 2020 could not get any weirder…”, she is not a typical contenstant. I think “DWTS” knew that if they had Carole Baskin in their cast, there were going to be higher ratings as well as the show would be mentioned in social media more often.
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I think Carole Baskin is a prime example of virality for many aspects. The stories about her personal life situations spread very quickly in a short amount of time. Whether it was the story on her first husband’s disappearance and her suspected involvement to her feud with Joe Exoctic (who is the main character in “Tiger King”). These events alone made her a household name. Add to this her saying of “Hey all you cool cats and kittens” and her line of work and she become an internet sensation. The internet wanted more from her. The quarantine boredom also was a major factor in her success and her becoming viral. If people were not sitting home all day, I don’t think the show and the characters involved would get so popular, and viral, so quickly. In this case, virality is not only how quickly and how many times the show was being shared, it was also how quickly other content about the show and the characters was being produced.