"Can't tell you how many times I've watched SVU marathons. This is my dream job," tweeted Mike Tyson, after the news came that he was to guest star in an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
Yes, a man who was convicted of rape and still airs misogynistic views has been cast in a show often praised for the way it deals with sexual violence. Which makes you wonder: has he watched the show? Set in New York, the police procedural show focuses on victims of rape and sexual assault and while it has been accused of offering up rape as "entertainment" (another week, another female rape victim) it is widely considered to deal with sexual violence in a sensitive and serious way.
So why has it cast Mike Tyson as Reggie Rhodes: "a murderer on death row who is also the victim of a difficult childhood"? The casting, set to air next month, has left many people outraged. Indeed, Marcie Kaveney, a rape crisis advocate, has set up a petition on the campaign site calling for the directors to change their mind which has already garnered more than 6,000 signatories.
"I am extremely disappointed, as I love this show and have watched it for years," she says. "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."
Among the signatories are women who have suffered sexual assault, such as one who posted: "I'm a survivor, and I think this is a disgusting show of disrespect to allow a perpetrator to profit off a show portraying sexual violence."
Another posted: "I was a victim and I would not want to turn on the TV and see my rapist on a show that is supposedly about protecting victims' rights."