Did Mike Tyson's Airport Punch-Out KO His Documentary's Oscar Chances?
It's that time of year when even the police blotter isn't immune to scouring for Oscar-news nuggets. And so we have this: Mike Tyson was arrested Wednesday at LAX after an altercation with a photographer. The former heavyweight champ was charged with battery and released on his own recognizance after he allegedly punched the photographer in the face. Seeing as both men are fine, let's now get to the real issue: What does all this mean for Tyson's Oscar chances?
Well, look: If anything could make Mike Tyson even more sympathetic than James Toback's acclaimed one-man-show documentary made him, it would probably be socking a pestering paparazzo. Especially one who Tyson's spokeswoman says struck him in an attempt at provocation while the ex-fighter was escorting his wife and 10-month-old daughter out of an airport terminal. (Don't forget that Tyson's 4-year-old daughter died last May in a freak accident, which has since only intensified his demand for privacy.) The latest reports note that the unnamed photographer, too, was charged with battery after receiving treatment for a cut on his forehead; he said that Tyson attempted to take his camera as well.
Still, the Academy's doc-nominating committee's ineptitude, myopia and prejudice over the years is pretty well-known, and there's no real guarantee it would have recognized Tyson even if its subject hadn't punched a dude. One disappointed observer seems to think Tyson's arrest makes an Oscar snub something of a fait accompli, arguing that Toback shouldn't have to pay for the champ's actions. The latter sentiment makes perfect sense, but let's be honest: His film's quality aside, a nomination for Tyson has nothing to do with Toback. This Oscar campaign reaches back a year and a half to Tyson's premiere at Cannes '08. The nominating committee members likely had their minds made up one way or the other before Tyson ever walked into the terminal.
I think Tyson is probably safe for now, but there's a lot of Oscar season left. At the very least, a window might have just opened for Warner Bros. to push Tyson for Supporting Actor in The Hangover. See? Everything will work out fine.