Mike Tyson, convicted rapist, lands “dream job” on Law & Order: SVU
He of face-tattoos, ear-biting scandals and low-budget Hangover cameos, Mike Tyson, has expressed unadulterated joy over Twitter after landing a role on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, “Can't tell you how many times I've watched SVU marathons. This is my dream job.”
The show, which has garnered both controversy and praise for the way it deals with sexual and domestic abuse victims – some critics label the show’s ‘Rape as Entertainment’ a callous strategy while others have praised scriptwriters for the level of sensitivity exercised on the taboo topic – has cast the disgraced boxer as a murderer on death row with a troubled upbringing.
Famously, Tyson was arrested (and subsequently charged) for raping the then-18-year-old Miss Black America pageant competitor, Desiree Washington in 1991, receiving a six year jail sentence for the crime (of which he only served three). Since then, he’s oscillated between being a public abuse apologist and a “nice guy” just trying to clean up his tarnished image - a confusing art-imitating-life plot imminently surfacing in Dick Wolf's police drama.
Of course, Tyson’s violence-propagates-violence real-life experience has been greeted with a proliferating online backlash.
As per The Guardian, via The Sydney Morning Herald, “Marcie Kaveney, a rape crisis advocate, has set up a petition on the campaign site Change.org calling for the directors to change their mind”, and get Tyson off the air, pronto.
So far, over 6000 people have signed and Kaveny has spoken out about the extreme level of indiscretion the show’s producers exercised in securing this celebrity cameo, “I am extremely disappointed, as I love this show and have watched it for years. I have even suggested rape crisis advocates watch the show for tips. As an advocate and a survivor, my heart aches at the thought that this man gets a free pass because he is famous! I can't even begin to imagine what this news would mean to his victim.”
Law and Order, as yet, have not released an official statement but the program’s showrunner, Warren Leight. has “acknowledged that some fans may find the casting ‘inappropriate’. He wrote in a series of seven tweets: ‘While in no way excusing his past actions, it's worth noting [Tyson] was convicted over 20 years ago, and served his time. Our intent, as always, is to provoke discussion and awareness.’”
In his biography, former friend and fellow boxer Jose Torres quoted Tyson as saying “I like to hurt women when I make love to them. I like to hear them scream with pain, to see them bleed” and in a 2009 interview with Oprah, he joked about hitting Robin Givens, his first wife: “'I truly wanted to sock her but I didn't. It was an abusive relationship.”
The episode is set to air next month.