Friday, September 03, 2010

Rehabbing Mike Tyson's image (by Suzie)

Can you imagine a U.S. senator who chose a convicted rapist to be the best man at his wedding? Neither could some Florida voters. They rejected billionaire Jeff Greene in the Democratic primary last week, in part, I fervently hope, because of Mike Tyson.

Their connection came up after Tyson talked about doing drugs during a 2005 cruise on Greene's 145-foot yacht Summerwind. Greene responded by saying that he didn't allow drugs on his yacht, and that claims were made by disgruntled employees and journalists out to get him. Tyson defended Greene, saying he partook only on land.

Many people poked fun, as did Gail Collins, who describes the yacht as "the Levi Johnston of boats."
The government of Belize says Summerwind tore up a part of a national coral reef with its anchor, but Greene denies knowing anything about it. The yacht went to Cuba, apparently breaking the American embargo. Greene says that was just for emergency repairs, and, anyway, he spent the downtime visiting Cuban synagogues. ...

Clearly, the Summerwind has a life of its own, cruising around the globe, burning 50 gallons of fuel an hour, throwing orgies for B-list celebrities while Greene is home reading. It played host to Lindsay Lohan, who Greene claims he’s barely met. It took Mike Tyson on a Black Sea cruise that culminated in a drug-and-sex romp in Amsterdam, but Greene was only around for the part where they visited an 11th-century monastery in Ukraine.
On this cruise, a woman in Sardinia accused Tyson of sexual assault, but police said they found no evidence to substantiate her allegation. This has been little reported. The same link, plus this one, note that women have accused Tyson of sexual assault and battery before and after his rape conviction in 1992.

In the primary campaign, kudos to Jim Stratton of the Orlando Sentinel for recognizing the gender angle of Greene's friendship with Tyson. In other words, it turned off some women.
Greene spokesman Paul Blank said Monday that Greene “obviously doesn’t condone or agree with” all of Mike Tyson’s behavior and that the candidate is “a strong supporter of all efforts to curb domestic violence. ... You only need to watch Jeff interact with his 83-year-old mother to see that he has enormous respect for women.”
That put Greene ahead of the politicians who beat their elderly mothers. Regarding Greene’s choice of Tyson as his best man in his 2007 wedding, the spokesman said Greene “believes in redemption” and was “trying to help somebody when they were hurting.” Redeem has different meanings: A person can redeem himself or be redeemed. Why do men like Greene or James Toback, who directed the documentary "Tyson," feel compelled to redeem this rapist?

I didn't see "Tyson" when it came out last year, but the reviews remind me of "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," another rapist apologia released in 2008. A NYT interview refers to Tyson's "foibles" and "mistakes." Tim Arango writes that Tyson no longer feels threatening. Tim, what if you were a woman interviewing him alone as he talked about his desire to dominate women?

The film premiered at Cannes, where Tyson "got something close to a hero's welcome," according to Andrew O'Hehir. Of the movie critics on Rotten Tomatoes, 85 percent liked the film, with some finding Tyson honest and sympathetic. I wonder how that made Desiree Washington feel.

He did three years in prison for raping her. On the Internet, there's one hateful comment after another about her. In 2004, Tyson said he hated her so much that "now I really do want to rape her." In the documentary, he calls her “that wretched swine of a woman.” He continues to deny raping her. "His reasoning: He’s raped before and knows the difference," notes reviewer Jaime Lowe. Tyson is championed by his old friend, Toback, a sleazy schmo who has used movie-making to attract young women.

I look forward to the documentary on women who have accused prominent men of rape -- international celebrities such as Polanski and Tyson as well as others with power and money -- and the effects that has had on their lives.