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Netflixs The Voyeur - Creepier and Crazier than Tiger King

by Dana Andersen. Published Fri 01 May 2020 14:53, last updated: 01/05/20

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The Netflix documentary Tiger King has elicited a huge response, confusing and amusing people all over the internet, and turning Joe Exotic into a well known figure. Gerald Foos, despite being the focus of Netflix’s older documentary, The Voyeur, is a much less known name. Perhaps owning a zoo full of exotic animals is more compelling to the average viewer, than a man who rigged up a Colorado motel in order to spend decades spying on guests.

Journalist Gay Talese was involved with Foo’s for several years, writing first a New Yorker article, then a book, and finally culminating in the documentary. When Foos originally reached out to him in 1980, he was unwilling to be outed as ‘The Voyeur’, leaving Talese with a huge archive of information on the subject, but little he was able to do with it. This comes up a few times in the documentary, with Talese wondering what made Foos wait a few decades, and suddenly be okay with everyone knowing about his illegal and immoral activities.

The entire documentary is a battle of wills, opinion, and skewed facts. Gerald Foos kept detailed diaries for his years of spying, but when a crime he claimed to have witnessed while spying on guests, seemed to have in fact happened at a motel a few miles away, he blames it on inaccuracies while typing up the diary.

The fact that Talese visited Foos ‘observation deck’, the roof space of the Motel where he used vents to look down into the rooms like a doll house, is one of the few reasons we know any of this tale is at all true.

As the documentary progresses, it can appear that Foos and Talese are enemies, only to suddenly be on the same team, and then be best friends. It’s difficult to tell how much they believe, trust, or even respect each other.

Its up to the viewer to wade through the half truth, lies and honest titbits, to decide if Gerald Foos is the scientist of human nature and behaviour he seems to think he is, or simply a pervert who didn’t know where to draw the line. Then again, how would he know where to draw the line, with a wife supportive of his activities, and an acclaimed journalist visiting, and documenting, the place where he lurked above his unsuspecting guests?

Whether its stories of guests being murdered in his rooms, his wife being fully aware, and accepting of his ‘hobby’, to the point of taking him sandwiches while he spied on couples having sex, or the decades of archived information Talese has on the motel and Foos, this documentary provides the same inconclusive, sometimes-funny-sometimes-tragic shock factor that Tiger King has recently given us.



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