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The West Wing
A mixture of original interviews and archival footage and photographs sheds light on the life experiences of Mike Tyson.
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This film's theme is about compassion. The madness of our world has taken in Mike Tyson and then spit him out. Or so that's how director James Toback is telling it.
I sat with a crowded audience during the middle of the day and watched a propaganda film that I don't think many of us were sold. They had us until half-way into the film when Tyson called Desiree Washington a "bitch, cunt, cocksucker." Washington, being the woman who charged him with rape, a charge Tyson was found guilty for and sentenced to 5 years in prison (he got out in 3 years for good behavior). Then people started walking out of the theater because there was no way they could listen to Mike Tyson any more.
Even if Tyson was actually innocent (and I'd state my life on that he was 100% guilty for raping that girl), there is perspective you must have on of life and learn how to forgive and forget. Life isn't fair and many times we get punished for things that are not our fault, but the sign of a man is to understand that and to learn to embrace the hard times life gives you.
And that's the problem with this film. Mike Tyson is still a boy and we really can't feel sorry for him at all. The difference between a boy and a man is that the boy blames everyone for his problems and the man takes responsibility for his actions no matter what and learns from life. Tyson had it all and he fucked it all up. And he must take responsibility for that. Until he does then there is nothing to feel sorry for him. And there isn't a movie that should be made about him.
I used to feel sorry for Mike Tyson and now after watching this film I don't feel sorry for him at all. He's a screw-up and screw-ups should be told they are screw-ups and it's that simple. And I'm assuming Toback was attempting to do the opposite. For us to feel sorry for the screw-up. But I can't and many others can't either. Tyson was given gifts and he flushed down the toilet. Gifts that many people would trade for in a heartbeat.
Yes, Tyson had hard times growing up and there was an obvious lack of mentors. His only true mentor is probably the only person he's ever loved in Cus D'Amato. The man who saw his true gifts and took him out of the projects of Brooklyn. When Cus died when Mike was only 18 years old, there wasn't another mentor for him.
Oh but there was and Toback didn't go there in the movie. That's why this is a propaganda film. They only showed us things what we know from the pop-culture media. There's no new information that Toback gave us. Tyson had a new mentor in Kevin Rooney, the man who trained him after D'Amato died. But they (Tyson's new people, mainly Don King) removed him in 1990 and there is a direct link to the decline in Tyson's career and overall life from that moment. Then there was Teddy Atlas, the man D'Amato had train Mike solely and teach him the ropes of being a man. But Tyson groped his 11 year old niece and Atlas confronted him for that occurance which lead to D'Amato dismissing him. Two stories never talked about in the film.
Even Tyson blamed Holyfield for biting him in the ear in what is perhaps the most infamous bout in boxing history. "He head butted me." says Tyson. "That's why I bit him in the ear." Even if that was true, it didn't mean he had to attempt to bite Holyfield's ear off like a caged animal.
I really was hoping for a lot more in this film. Why do we continue to see people not take responsibilities for their actions? As of this writing, Manny Ramirez, perhaps the best pure hitter in the game of baseball, was found guilty of steroid us. "But it wasn't me" says Ramirez. "I took a supplement that I thought was clean." Sure Manny, sure. And sure Mike, sure.
So little Mikey really hasn't grown up all that much. And I'm assuming he's just doing this film for the small paycheck he'll be receiving and not for the sake of showing the world a new man.
There's a tragic ending to this film too. We learn that he has pro-created 6 times and has set those kids up for a father who isn't much of a mentor. The tragic cycle of life begins. And you can tell the mother of most of those kids really was a good person who loved him. But Tyson screwed that relationship up by cheating on her. A man who's not able to control his demons. And why was there a film made about him again?