Why Law and Order SVU Should Not Air the Show with Mike Tyson Guest Starring

(This is a shortened version explaining why I believe NBC Law and Order SVU used very poor judgment in casting Mike Tyson to be a “guest star” on an upcoming SVU episode and how this ends up being insensitive to many of its loyal viewers who have suffered trauma as victims and survivors of current and/or  past sexual abuse, child abuse and/or domestic/dating violence. I write not only for myself, but for those I know and know in my heart, who are unable to speak up.   Please note there is a PETITION CIRCULATING about this matter, should you want to sign it:  https://www.change.org/petitions/nbc-and-law-order-svu-we-request-that-you-re-consider-casting-convicted-rapist-mike-tyson-on-law-order-svu?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=url_share&utm_campaign=url_share_before_sign    (Besides everyday people, some people connected with non-profit organizations are speaking out against SVU airing this episode and  some who are in other professions are also speaking in support of the above-noted petition:  e.g., https://twitter.com/PauleyP/status/292565491275419649 .)  FYI, I am also typing another blog to explain why some feel the casting of Mike Tyson is a stunt designed to increase ratings (which controversy always does) so SVU  will get renewed for another season in May.)

More than any other show in the history of network television, Law and Order SVU has a loyal viewership of people who have personally experienced sexual abuse, child abuse and/or domestic/dating violence and/or know someone who has.  Because the show sheds light on these subjects and shows the law enforcement angle of trying to address and stop sexual abuse, child abuse and domestic/dating violence, it resonates with these viewers in meaningful and sometimes profound ways.  (It is/was often viewed as a “friend” to victims/survivors–one who spoke to them and, many times, for them, most especially when that victim/survivor can’t let their victimization be known. )  Dick Wolf and L&O SVU know this, and, therefore, have a responsibility to these viewers and to the relating social causes they/SVU claim to espouse.

To these ends, NBC Law and Order SVU “must” always be sensitive in all that it does, in all that it says, and in all its employees say on Twitter and in social media, and it must weigh the good against the possible bad or harm that could affect these viewers before proceeding.

The casting of Mike Tyson in a coveted “guest star” role on SVU flies in the face of such sensitivity, because it sends a “message” which offends and upsets certain victims/survivors.  While Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist and wife beater who has served his time and is purportedly rehabilitated, he is not someone who is an actor by profession (he has only played himself in other roles and on Broadway), nor someone worthy of being a guest star before other actors on SVU, nor, most importantly, someone who should be a guest star at the EXPENSE of some, if not a majority, of loyal SVU viewers who are survivors.  No matter the SVU storyline–including that of the cycle of abuse and redemption/rehabilitation, it is better acted and better told/conveyed by someone else who is a proven actor by profession and is without a history of being a perpetrator of sexual abuse/violence (does not offend survivor viewers).

Just because Mike Tyson happens to be rehabilitated doesn’t mean he has a right to be seen in every forum or arena —  especially those involving trauma victims (viewers) and when those victims/viewers have expressed their concern with his appearance.  If NBC or Dick Wolf feel strongly about casting him, why not cast him in Chicago Fire or another NBC show, where his casting will not have a direct adverse impact on victims/survivors?

One can only wonder what in the world SVU casting or its show runner was thinking when they cast a non-actor by profession (Mike Tyson) with all the actors out there (by profession) who would be worthy of being a guest star for the same money, and they cast Mike Tyson at the expense of offending and upsetting some of its loyal viewers (trauma victims) whom they should be sensitive to.  This only leaves me with the conclusion that SVU has now “lost” its way and is no longer sensitive to the *many victims/survivors and social causes it claims to care about.

If this ends up being the case, I will no longer owe the current L&O SVU my loyalty and viewership.

Bridgette Rodriguez, @BridgetteRodrig

* It is important for people to realize that because of the shame associated with being a sexual assault victim and/or domestic violence victim, many victims/survivors do not discuss their victimization in the open, with family or friends, and certainly wouldn’t, therefore, comment to NBC and/or in social media and/or use any method for comment where they believe they could be traced.  Therefore, in my opinion, for every person who does express concern in some social media forum, there are probably dozens upon dozens who feel the same way but won’t comment to NBC or others because they don’t wish to be outed.


About takeactionnow2

Administrator for Take Action Now FB Group and this WordPress blog.
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10 Responses to Why Law and Order SVU Should Not Air the Show with Mike Tyson Guest Starring

  1. Connor Behan says:

    I will boycott this episode for sure, but I will probably watch others. You are really going to stop watching the show because of this? I applaud your strong stance. I saw some people on Twitter saying “I am opposed to Mike Tyson’s casting so I will only watch this episode for Andre Braugher”. I felt like saying that opposing an episode and still watching it is the most useless way to “protest” but then I would’ve had to get a Twitter account.

    • takeactionnow2 says:

      Thanks. Yes, I will stop watching SVU if they air the Tyson episode. As for Andre Braugher, he is an actor’s actor who I can see on other shows that he will act in. (He’s hardly on SVU.)

  2. Marcie Kaveney says:

    Excellent blog, Bridgette! It echos exactly how I feel as a rape and domestic violence survivor. I can only hope this petition does it’s job because I really do like the show and would hate to have to stop watching it. However, I will. Looks like it is more NCIS for me! I like that one too on USA, now I like it even more after reading Pauley’s tweet.

  3. Heather says:

    Shouldn’t it also show why people do what they do? I think that’s the point of this episode just because you hate someone for an.act no.matter how horrible why punish the actors you’ve grown to love and admire just miss this particular episode if u hate him that much if you’re a true fan of the show and people involved in it just saying yes I know this will get me a lot of hate but I am a victim myself and have come to terms with it

    • takeactionnow2 says:

      Thank you for your response. (And if you change your mind and don’t want it public, you can always delete it.)

      First, I think it is important to note that I updated my blog page a little while ago with new information about Peace Over Violence and Mariska Harigay’s Joyful Heart Foundation tweeting and coming out with concerns about Tyson’s casting in SVU. The JHF’s actual blog can be found at: http://joyfulheartfoundation.org/wordpress/response-to-concerns-over-casting-of-mike-tyson-on-law-order-special-victims-unit/ Peace Over Violence’s tweets are on Twitter (Jan. 22) and interestingly Warren Leight, the SVU show runner, DELETED his tweets that Peace Over Violence was responding to. (What does that tell you?)

      Also, FYI, both the JHF and Peace Over Violence are professional non-profits who work with survivors.

      Finally, there is a part in my blog where I say no matter how worthy the storyline, including one of the cycle of abuse and redemption, it is better played and better CONVEYED by an actor who does not have prior convictions for sexual assault or domestic violence, so that they do not offend (survivor) viewers. (This way everyone watches and gets the “story”.) I hope my response comments help shed some light on my blog and how Peace Over Violence and the JHF feel.


  4. I read both of your posts and while I do agree with some things, there are other points I don’t follow. For one, I’m not sure if she would be considered a big enough guest star, but iJustine, Justine Ezarik is not an actor by profession and yet her first on screen role was SVU. The same goes for Serena Williams and Ludacris, though I believe both had two other guest starring roles in other shows/movies before SVU. So I don’t see how not being an actor by profession could be too much of an issue for Mike Tyson.
    Two, I don’t believe people go to jail and come out rehabilitated. I have studied enough criminal law and seen first-hand that does not happen. However, while I do find the casting of Mike Tyson to be insensitive whether he’s “better” or not, do you know in what capacity they are using Tyson for? For example, if they were using him to let’s say recreate his trial, would that be ok? I’m just curious.
    Lastly, SVU does have that appeal that other shows do not have. It offers a voice for victims, however with that being said I do not feel that any television show which is labeled as a drama “must” be sensitive to its viewers. If it were I would perhaps call it a documentary or I’m not sure what, but I would not call it a drama.

  5. Christa says:

    This blog is disgusting. Who are you to judge one man as if you have the right? As a rape victim myself I think you are ignorant and disturbingly close minded. All you know is that he was hired and cast, what else do you know? Nothing. Get angry AFTER it airs when you know what capacity he was shown in. Stupid ignorant soapbox bandwagoner. I guess forgiveness doesn’t exist and neither does walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. You make me sick. You are no better than he is. He shows no remorse and acts like an animal, so you return that with acting like an animal? Get down off your little soapbox because nothing you say changes anything.

    • takeactionnow2 says:

      First, it appears you have anger issues, based on your entire comment string. Besides how you have expressed yourself in totality, you are calling me names (stupid, ignorant, etc.), but, yet, I don’t call anyone such names in my articles. Next, I updated the page to show that Mariska Hargitay’s foundation, the Joyful Heart Foundation, has spoken out about the Mike Tyson SVU controversy and as a non-profit dealing with survivors of sexual abuse, abuse and domestic violence, they have expressed their formal concerns to the executive producers of SVU. http://joyfulheartfoundation.org/wordpress/response-to-concerns-over-casting-of-mike-tyson-on-law-order-special-victims-unit/ They, as professionals, understand the adverse impact this Tyson casting has on some survivors and they “hear” them. So, please keep an open mind and be respectful when you read their blog and respond. If not, your comments will be deleted. Bridgette

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