During such unprecedented times like these, I have found that people have taken to passing the time allocated indoors to catch up on more productive hobbies like cooking, or perhaps even reading novels. However I, like so many other evicted college students, have not quite lived up to the tranquil dreams I had imagined before beginning self-isolation procedures. Indeed, instead of reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, I have been scrolling through TikTok and meme pages, comforting myself in the collective frustration that can only be illustrated through the Facebook page “Zoom Memes for Self Quaranteens.” Over the past week, a new addition has joined the ranks: Netflix’s Tiger King. My best friends and I have been streaming it over group video calls, and I think it is safe to say that the docu-series, which follows the big-cat business in America, is peak self-isolation entertainment.
Let’s face it: a lot of us are binging Netflix and other streaming platforms. So, when brainstorming ideas of plausible topics to write about for this edition of Tortoise Tuesday, I wanted to attempt to make our binging habits a tad more constructive. While reflecting back on my time spent in utter disbelief over the range of topics explored in Tiger King (which in addition to the inner workings of the big-cat enterprise also deals with murder and polygamy), I couldn’t help but notice how the manner in which the show is constructed can illuminate the significance of using key terms.
According to our beloved Writing Lexicon, a key term is defined as “a paper’s main terms or concepts.” Despite being an important part of constructing a great paper, in the conference room I have often found students forgetting to establish key terms at the beginning of their papers. Forgetting to incorporate key terms is very much analogous to what would have occurred if Tiger King did not take the time to introduce the main actors that propel the documentary forward. It is exactly this that Tiger King does so well; if they hadn’t established the identities of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin along with their respective roles in the big-cat business during the first episode, the job of the audience member would have been even more difficult than it already is.
When writing your paper, remind yourself that whoever ends up grading your work, whether it be your professor or preceptor, is looking for clarity. In this case, your professor reading your paper is like you watching Tiger King. So be like the makers of this documentary and establish your Joe Exotics – the main actors and concepts in your paper that you build a discourse around.
— Doruntina Fida ’21