Law & Disorder: WTF

By Robert Ecksel on January 25, 2013
Law & Disorder: WTF
Someone needs to alert Marcie Kaveney to the fact that Law & Order: SVU is not hers.

It sometimes seems as if he’s had more lives than a reincarnated lama. But no matter how many Mike Tysons there have been and will likely be in the years to come, some people will neither forgive nor forget his trespasses.

Although he did the crime (maybe) and did the time (definitely), the shadow of Tyson’s 1991 rape conviction hangs over him like a guillotine.

The latest blowback from that sorry affair concerns Mike having been cast as a murderer on death row in an episode of Law & Order: SVU.

Leading the charge, complete with a petition asking NBC to give the former heavyweight champion the boot, is Marcie Kaveney, a rape survivor who works as a rape crisis advocate in Fort Myers, Florida.

Timing is everything, in boxing and in showbiz, and the Tyson death row episode is scheduled to air the same night as the opening salvo of an initiative called One Billion Rising, a global movement whose purpose is to raise awareness about violence against women.

As soon as Kaveney heard the news about Tyson, “I just saw red,” she told the Washington Post’s The TV Column. “I am sorry, but I see this as just another way to clean up his image.”

There may be some truth to Kaveney’s allegation, but Tyson has been cleaning up his image for years, and with a degree of success that has surprised many.

“A lot of survivors consider ‘SVU’ to be their show,” continued Kaveney, “because it’s about victims, about helping victims and getting justice for victims. We’ve taken to the show and consider it ours.”

Someone needs to alert Kaveney to the fact that ‘SVU’ is not hers. It may advocate, or appear to advocate, for her cause, but identifying with what we see on TV comes at its own risk.

Naturally, there has been the usual back and forth on this issue. Naturally it has taken place on Twitter. But twenty years after the fact, I still don’t know what Desiree Washington thought would happen when she joined the notorious Mike Tyson in his hotel room in the wee hours of the morning. She may have been young and naïve, but how young and naïve can you get?

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  1. Leighton 12:25pm, 01/27/2013

    The fact that victims watch the show doesn’t somehow entitle that part of the audience to control it. Whatever some misguided, self-inflated advocates might say, it’s not their show.

    The producers of SVU have every right to cast whoever they want. Mike Tyson is out of jail and has every right to take whatever work he can manage to find. Fans who find the casting distasteful have every right to bitch about it on the internet or change the channel, but if they’re claiming some kind of inherent ownership because they’ve been raped, they’re laughably removed from reality. Being shot doesn’t give you the right to choose who acts in action movies, being tortured in a North Korean prison doesn’t give you the right to choose who acts in gore-horror movies, and being raped doesn’t give you the right to choose who plays who in SVU.

    That said, it is a little tasteless. I hadn’t even thought about it, since I don’t believe he raped that woman and thus don’t think of him as a rapist, but since most people do associate himself with that felony, it’s unsurprising that people are unhappy with the decision.

  2. NYIrish 07:00am, 01/26/2013

    Mike Tyson on death row. Good casting. How does Ms.Kaveney know that the episode won’t “raise awareness of voilence against women?” Why should an ex boxing champion be held to a higher moral standard re casting opportunities in Hollywood? If accusations and or convictions of crimes of moral turpitude disqualified actors and directors, a lot of shows and movies would look different or not be produced. Regardless of all we don’t know about the case of Tyson, he is a convicted felon that has served time. He needs to be able to make an honest living with what he has to work with. It appears that he is doing that.

  3. Bodyshots 03:32pm, 01/25/2013

    “Mike is no angel” is all i need to determine his intent and purpose in luring Ms. Washington to his hotel room that night. particularly after watching her and her fellow contestants parade around in bathing suits earlier. we’re all men here and there’s no reason for labored over-analysis of Tyson’s (or ANY man’s) instinct or intent in this incident. the same impulse most fight-fans feel after watching the ring-card girls do their thing: Hit-It and Quit-It. besides, i’m certain that much hotter girls had already submitted to the world-famous “Undefeated . . . Undisputed . . . HEAVYweight Champion of the Worrrrld” without any of the fuss involved in this incident. consequently, Tyson was living in a fantasy world, lost his bearings, and was abruptly snapped back to reality by Ms. Washington’s response to being manhandled against her will. however, i’m a big believer in second and even third chances and don’t begrudge Mike parlaying his residual fame and notoriety into a living but i also agree that casting a “notorious rapist” can be interpreted as being a bit insensitive to the show’s audience. in which case, exercise the freedom of remote control and switch the channel.

  4. Robert Ecksel 03:28pm, 01/25/2013

    I don’t disagree. I watch as little TV as possible and never watch police procedurals. I’ve seen too much from the inside out to give much credence to fictionalized portrayals. But I admit that my knowledge of Law & Order: SVU is nil. I trust what you have written about the show is true, and under the circumstances perhaps hiring Mike Tyson was the wrong move to make, inasmuch as it distorts SVU’s purported message. Maybe the show’s producers or casting agents should be taken to task for trading in celebrity on what is a celebrity-driven medium. Maybe, even going a step further, the stated objectives of the show need to be questioned. It is after all broadcast on NBC, whose parent company is GE, manufacturer of, among other goodies, the nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, which has created more special victims than anyone knows. It is possible that all is not as it appears? For example, on March 29, 2011 the Washington Post wrote, “General Electric Co., reported the New York Times last week, earned $14.2 billion in worldwide profits last year, including $5.1 billion in the United States — and paid exactly zero dollars in federal taxes. The front-page story drew widespread commentary in newspapers and on many Web sites. ABC News and Fox News, among others, were all over it. But the story was conspicuously absent from the reportage of one news organization: NBC.” I believe that’s what I’m talking about.

  5. noluvulongtime 02:21pm, 01/25/2013

    Law & Order: SVU is a very specific police procedural. It is specific to rape victims, victims of sexual abuse/molestation and domestic violence. As I’ve said before, “How hard is it to hire a person without a past history of sexual violence for a show that champions victims of sex abuse?”  I have no interest in Mike Tyson’s career any more than you have any real interest in the fans of SVU or why any component of its base watches the show. But Mike Tyson could easily be stunt casted on Criminal Intent and you’d have no argument with me or a majority of SVU viewers. Of all the shows he could’ve been cast on as a guest, they had to put him on this one. And you don’t see how anyone would have a problem with that? That’s a bit ignorant or obtuse, don’t you think, Mr. Ecksel? The case(s) are not important. What you think of Tyson or Washington is not important. The fact remains is that MT has a record and he should not be hired for a show that victims by and large go to in order to feel safe and vindicated. Hypothetically, you could say that this show encourages victims to come forward and report ongoing abuse. If they see a rapist getting a role on this show, don’t you think it sends the message that their situation is not as impt as the rapists’? You can argue as long as the world is wide about Tyson and his past, but in the context of this casting choice, it is irrelevant.

  6. The Tache 01:10pm, 01/25/2013

    To me the point is simply that he served his sentence a long time ago and is entitled to make a living the same as anyone else.

  7. Robert Ecksel 12:59pm, 01/25/2013

    Mike is no angel, as he’d be the first to admit. His history speaks for itself. Unfortunately we can only speculate as to what went down and what, if any, motives were involved, as it relates to both parties. I’m as reluctant to sanctify Desiree Washington as I am to sanctify Tyson. We just don’t know enough. The guilty verdict is what it is. But a ham sandwich can be indicted by a Grand Jury, and is often consumed during criminal proceedings. There was a civil suit that Ms. Washington filed against Tyson that was settled out of court. I’m not suggesting that it’s so, but it could be perceived that she took the money and ran, which might explain her low profile.

  8. Bodyshots 12:11pm, 01/25/2013

    I wasn’t in the hotel room that night but when you consider Mike’s priors (e.g., luring old ladies to isolated spots before KOing them for their valuables) IMO the least likely scenario is Tyson exercising restraint or consideration for a young hottie’s objections to being treated like a whore in the privacy (isolation?) of his hotel room. particularly not when the victim reports it, obtains justice, and then quickly fades back into obscurity. This ain’t Tawana Brawley we’re talking about. Ms. Washington’s story makes all the primal sense in the world.

  9. Bodyshots 11:51am, 01/25/2013

    being able to successfully lure a girl/woman across the threshold to my hotel room can’t be the bar for being able to do whatever i want with her. not in this day, age, and society. i believe that before, during, and/or after the incident, Mike behaved like a predatory animal. i’m also convinced that at some point during this incident, the girl expressed her objection to being manhandled like a whore and Mike disregarded her objections based on a flimsy and ultimately criminal sense of entitlement. even a horny and aggressive dog needs to understand “No” or even “not sure”, “not right now”, and “I don’t think so”. otherwise, they’ve gotta do the time and work extra hard to reconcile their previous actions with their presumed desire to re-establish their good standing in society. could take a lifetime but that’s what should happen when a sadistic bully violates a mom, sister, or daughter’s right to not be treated like a whore. nonetheless, i’m rooting for Mike . . . until the day he dies.

  10. Robert Ecksel 09:21am, 01/25/2013

    Nikolette and notluvulongtime, I can appreciate your position. Rape is not just a crime against women. It’s a crime against humanity. That said, we’re no more inclined to hero worship at the feet of Mike Tyson than we are to hero worship at the feet of any other human being. We recognize false gods when we see them. His accomplishments in the ring, no matter how circumscribed, are one thing, his behavior outside the ring another, and never the twain shall meet. We don’t look to others to be our role models. We are our own role models. But we, like Tyson, like Desiree Washington, perhaps even like yourselves, are hopelessly flawed. It goes with the territory. None of us were in that hotel room in Indianapolis, so none of us can know what went down. It might be as she said. It might be as he said. We cannot know. To write, “If anyone can’t see who that person really is, then you’re just as bad as he is” sullies the discourse and degrades your argument. I have no illusions about Mike Tyson. I also have no illusions about the endemic mistreatment of women. But to not ask the hard questions is to accept the easy answers, which from my vantage point benefits no one.

  11. Nikolette 08:32am, 01/25/2013

    Couldn’t have said it better notluvulongtime. It’s a shame that a sports era in one’s life overshadows what he did outside the arena. And you’re right, people with brains and a sense of decency will see him like he puts himself out there and not just some *cough* heroic sports figure. Smh…. And if anyone can’t see who that person really is, then you’re just as bad as he is.

  12. Mike Casey 08:30am, 01/25/2013

    “She went up to his room at three in the morning. Was she expecting a cup of coffee?” - Max Schmeling,

  13. notluvulongtime 07:56am, 01/25/2013

    With all due respect,, you’re out of your weight class if you’re going to start debating the intricacies of rape and victims. You obviously have no idea what you’re talking about or that last paragraph wouldn’t read so onerously. Petition supporters have maintained that you only have to know right from wrong and have a true sense of decency to be against the Mike Tyson stunt casting. You don’t have to have been raped to understand this. But I understand that Mike Tyson is a boxing hero to some. This issue is not your fight. It’s best you stay out of it. Your dog in this fight ended with his professional career years ago. For once, let the pertinent issues be more important that this guy’s sports legacy. Or sports at all. Sports is way too important in this country when it becomes more important than women’s bodies. Steubenville, anyone?

  14. the thresher 07:26am, 01/25/2013

    I’m staying clear of this one.

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