Mike Tyson’s announcement that he plans to appear in an upcoming Bollywood musical no doubt has many of my fellow pop-culture observers sharpening their snarkiest remarks as we speak. After all, targets just don’t come much easier than the squeaky-voiced former heavyweight champ who bit off part of a guy’s ear that one time. Let me be the first, then, to step forward and do the unthinkable: defend Mike Tyson.
Will I lose your trust forever, PopWatchers, if I say that I’d honestly like to see this movie? Tyson has all the necessary skills for at least a halfway-decent Bollywood performance. Love him or hate him, he’s clearly got screen presence for days. The Bollywood tradition’s kitschier strains thrive on melodramatic outbursts and outlandish emotional extremes, and his public statements have suffered from no shortage of either. And I’m sure his years in the ring have prepared him for the nimble footwork involved in a Bollywood dance sequence. That voice might be a sticking point for the big singing numbers — but thanks to the magic of overdubbing by a voice double (a standard practice in the genre), we won’t have to worry about that.
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And it’s no joke to say that Tyson has been exploited throughout hiscareer by enablers who have encouraged him to put his personal demonson display for our entertainment. No matter how absurd his Bollywoodstar turn ended up being, it would have to be an improvement on some ofhis past decisions. Is there a possibility that such a movie might endup seeming exploitative in its own way? Sure. But it’s not as if itwould be much more dignifying for him to turn up on The Surreal Life or some other reality series — and what other options does the guy have at this point?
You tell me, PopWatchers — am I way off base here? Or would any of you join me in line to see Iron Mike’s first Bollywood flick?