(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.