Some celebrities allow their reputation to become so bizarre that any story about them is believable. These celebrities have entered The Tyson Zone.
The term was created by commentator Bill Simmons
in "honor" of heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson
. Examples of Tysonic behavior include offering a zoo handler money to box a gorilla, threatening to eat an opponent's children, biting said opponent in the ring, saying you're ready to "fight Jesus
", or blowing $300 million on hookers, cocaine and an enormous collection of pigeons
And yes, Tyson did all
of these things and more
Ideally, the nuttiness should be sustained for years. Continual craziness, ideally manifesting in a number of different forms, is required for someone to truly enter the Zone.
The subject must be famous. Being crazy in your house is one thing; being crazy on national television is a whole different story.
- All Men Are Perverts: The easiest way for a man to enter the Zone is with a bizarre/violent sex life. If nothing is known, salacious rumors will do. (But often, simply an extramarital affair isn't enough. To really stand out from the pack, you need prostitutes, handcuffs, public nudity - the whole schmeer.)
- Ax Crazy: Some of the best occupants of the Tyson Zone are shining examples of this trope.
- Memetic Molester: Or any other "Memetic" trope, but this one seems to fit the most.
- Poe's Law: Same principle. A celebrity who enters the Tyson Zone for religious fundamentalism would be a straight example of both tropes.
- Weirdness Magnet: Not all who enter the Tyson Zone are crazy in their own right. Sometimes, the strange things just follow them.
Bill Simmons' List
The inaugural class named by Bill Simmons consisted of the following celebrities:
- Mel Gibson has steadily become this, for all the most unflattering imaginable reasons. Highlights include a drunken, anti-Semitic rant to a police officer (at the height of the controversy surrounding The Passion Of The Christ, mind) and a series of insulting, profane phone calls to his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.
- After Charlie Sheen's much publicized 2011 cocaine binge, Bill Simmons himself suggested that it may be time for Sheen to become the new Trope Namer. Though he put a hilarious condition (4th question there) for Sheen to take Tyson's title — with the observation "Let's hope I didn't just challenge him".
- Robert Downey, Jr. came close to entering, but then turned his life around thanks to, of all people, Mel Gibson. He's since called for the same opportunity to be extended to Mel.
- Think for a moment: is there a role you wouldn't believe Nicolas Cage would take? Think for a moment more: is there something you wouldn't believe Nicolas Cage would waste his money on? The man bankrupted himself buying things like swords and a private island.
- Mike Tyson, the trope namer.
- This trope is invoked in The Hangover Part II, where he asks to see the photos of the Wolf Pack's wild night by saying "I'm Mike Tyson. Nothing surprises me." And he still reacts to the pictures with a cry of "Motherfuck!"
- Manny Ramirez.
- Mario Balotelli. Because he is rich.
- Ben Roethlisberger. It's not that you'll believe any story about things he did, but that you'll believe any story about things that happened to him.
- Ron Artest/Metta World Peacenote . And the name change isn't the most infamous thing about him. Remember he started a brawl on a basketball court with a fan several rows back in the stands.
- There was also the fact that when he was a rookie with the Chicago Bulls, he applied to a Best Buy for the employee discount.
- Brian Wilson from the San Francisco Giants cultivates this image, probably/hopefully for humor's sake.
- The University of Miami (Florida) football team, especially after the Nevin Shapiro illicit benefits allegations. But the craziness stretches back decades...
- 1980s: Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew runs a rewards program to pay players for touchdowns and other on-field achievements.
- 1987: At a pregame steak dinner for the Fiesta Bowl, Penn State shows up in suits. Miami shows up in full combat fatigues.
- Actually, they showed up to the dinner in sweats that the Bowl committee gave them and asked them to wear while Penn St. wore suits. Thinking they had been set up to look bad, they showed up at the next day's press conference in said fatigues and declared they were "going to war."
- 1991: The team's taunting of the Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl Classic (most notably Randal Hill's touchdown celebration) is so flagrant that the NCAA creates the "Miami Rule" to punish it. This, on top of receiving sixteen penalties over 202 yards, a bowl and school record.
- 1992: A bench clearing brawl with San Diego State includes Dwayne Johnson (yes, The Rock) chasing the mascot into the stands.
- 2001: Against Boston College, a Miami defensive lineman records an interception, only for his teammate Ed Reed to run up behind him and steal the ball to take it in for the winning touchdown. (On a side note, 2001 Miami is considered by some to be the greatest college football team of all-time.)
- 2002: Najeh Davenport breaks into a woman's dorm room and is caught pooping in her laundry basket.
- 2003: Kellen Winslow is confronted by reporters for intentionally injuring an opposing player and has an epic freakout on camera, where he declares "I'm a fucking soldier!"
- 2006: Miami and FIU (which are less than 10 miles apart) engage in another bench-clearing brawl involving upwards of 60 players. This continued into the announcer's booth, where Miami alum Lamar Thomas was gloating on the air "You can’t come over to our place talking noise like that. You’ll get your butt beat. I was about to go down the elevator to get in that thing...I say, why don't we meet outside in the tunnel after the ball game and get it on some more?" Head coach Larry Coker even claimed later that he thought the brawl improved Miami's image.
- 2011: Convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro is caught for having lavished strippers, prostitutes, alcohol and money on UM recruits for nearly 10 years.
- Baseball legend Babe Ruth was deep in this zone for most of his early career, and it drove his first wife to her death (an event which shocked him into cleaning up his act later on). Interestingly enough, while the sports-writing establishment knew about his crazy antics (handing out thousands of dollars in tips, drinking gallons of whiskey at a time, hot and cold running prostitutes in his hotel rooms during away games, never wearing the same tailored silk shirt twice, buying a new car every six months, and so on), they had formed a "gentleman's agreement" to not report on it out of respect for his abilities as a baseball player.
- Werner Herzog. From hauling a steamship up a mountain to getting shot on camera he's known as much for his weirdness as his films.
- He would be even better known for this if he weren't completely overshadowed by his favorite actor Klaus Kinski. People's opinions are divided about if he was just completely insane or played being insane all the time for the publicity. He was probably pretty much in the middle of the two.
- Any of the original members of Mötley Crüe.
- Michael Jackson. In The Eighties, he encouraged this image by creating fake eccentricities — sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, trying to buy the Elephant Man's remains — knowing it would garner lots of publicity in the tabloids. What truly makes him zone-worthy is that we know he actually did the following things:
- Owned a pet chimp named Bubbles, for whom he would have custom suits tailored, since he frequently took the animal to public appearances. This was just one of many exotic pets he owned over the years, to the point that a Saturday Morning Cartoon and toy line based on them were being developed in The Eighties.
- Created the Neverland Ranch mansion/zoo/amusement park complex to live in. He saw Peter Pan as a role model of sorts, admitting in a 2003 interview that "I am Peter Pan in my heart."
- Had tons of plastic surgery, although he denied most of it. A related issue was how he chose to handle his vitiligo, which started destroying the pigmentation of his skin in The Eighties — he bleached the rest of it to an alarming whiteness.
- Had his handlers create the nickname / Forced Meme "The King of Pop" for him, and forced Fox and MTV to use it as a condition of airing his Dangerous-era videos.
- Married Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie; they were divorced in less than two years. (Granted, Nicholas Cage's marriage to her later didn't last two months.)
- Had giant statues of himself built and trucked around the world (including down the River Thames) to promote 1995's HIStory.
- Named his three children Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. (AKA Prince), Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson, and Prince Michael Jackson II, (AKA "Blanket").
- Took baby Paris home right after she was born — not even allowing the placenta to be washed off of her before he wrapped her in a towel and took off.
- Briefly dangled the then-infant "Blanket" over a hotel balcony in Berlin so fans below could see him, though they didn't actually see his towel-covered face, because Michael...
- Never let his kids go out in public with him without masks or veils. His concern that the kids could be targets for kidnapping or worse was valid — but those masks and veils attracted a lot of attention anyway. (The masks disappeared after his death.)
- Claimed that Tommy Mottola, head of Sony Music, was a racist who had deliberately sabotaged the release of 2001's Invincible because Jackson was black (said sabotage, if true, had more to do with Jackson choosing to part ways with Sony before the album hit shelves). A notorious quote: "He's a mean [sp.], he's a racist, and he's very, very, very devilish."
- Admitted that he had sleepovers with child friends, letting them use his bed and even sharing it with them in some cases. The 2003 interview containing this revelation came almost a decade after he had settled out of court with the family of a boy who accused him of molesting him. By the end of '03, a second investigation into child molestation allegations resulted in an arrest and trial (he was found not guilty), which led to him...
- Appearing for his trial visibly confused, several hours late, in pajama bottoms on one occasion. In hindsight this was a clear indication of his problems with drugs, in particular using anesthetics as sleeping pills, which ultimately killed him.
- Kanye West is known for having such a large ego that a false rumor stating he had claimed the title of "King of Pop" after Jackson's death was disbelieved by almost no one.
- Lady Gaga, although it's mostly due to her intentionally being as ridiculous as possible. Some think she's doing it to satirize an increasingly crazy entertainment/tabloid industry that is obsessed with this. Others... just think she's crazy. Still others point out that she could easily be both.
- Marilyn Manson was doing it before Gaga. He wasn't just a Satanist; did you know he also played Paul on The Wonder Years, once refused to perform until his audience dismembered a live puppy, and had two ribs removed so he could fellate himself? Unless you were a teen or parent in the early- to mid-'90s, probably not, because it wasn't true. But that didn't stop people from believing it.
- Ozzy Osbourne. The self-proclaimed Prince of Darkness. About half of this image was self-cultivated, rather like Michael Jackson (except for the image of sheer craziness rather than bizarre mystique) and the rest is due to bad decisions resulting from drug and alcohol binges.
- Yoshiki Hayashi, hide, Taiji Sawada... hell, ALL of the members of X Japan at some point or another.
- Except Heath and Sugizo, both of whom seemed to calm down considerably after the 90s. Toshi also qualifies as a current exception - after having left the religious cult, he seems to be fairly normal and well-adjusted at least publicly.
- The late Ol' Dirty Bastard.
- Keith Moon. Alice Cooper himself once said "40% of what you've heard about me, or Iggy or Ozzy is probably true. Everything you've ever heard about Keith Moon is true. And you've only heard a tenth of it."
- In 2007, Keith Richards made headlines when he was quoted as having snorted his father's ashes with cocaine. No one had any trouble believing this was true.
- A lot of the musicians involved in the Black Metal scene in Norway during The Nineties are subject to this, most notably Euronymous and Dead of Mayhem, both of whom were known for insane stage antics and dying very brutal and gruesome deaths, and Varg Vikernes of Burzum. Let's take a tally of the actions and events that put them in the zone...
- Per Yngve Ohlin AKA Dead was known to practice self-injury and starve himself for weeks just to make his corpse-makeup look more believable. He also kept a dead bird in a bag and would inhale the fumes of said bird to make sure the stench of death was in his lungs when he sang. He slit his wrists and shot himself in April of 1991, and his suicide note consisted solely of an apology for firing a gun indoors and ended with "Please excuse all the blood."
- Euronymous (real name: Oystein Aarseth) was one of the most groundbreaking guitarists in extreme metal, but was frankly, a very, very sick individual. He was misanthropy personified, and supported Theistic Satanism, murder, war, rape, genocide, dictatorship, and toture purely For the Evulz. He was a Theistic Satanist in a scene where everyone else was either a Neopagan or an Atheist and is largely responsible with Black Metal's association with Satanism (That being said, Varg Vikernes and a few others say that he wasn't really a Satanist, just a very bitter and misanthropic atheist/antitheist). He also died a very gory and violent Rasputinian Death
- Varg Vikernes of Burzum is arguably the most controversial metal musician of all time. He was known for burning down several historic churches in protest of Christianity, and is the one who killed Euronymous. To this day, he claims he killed Euronymous in self-defense, despite the fact that Euronymous had twenty-seven knife wounds to his head alone, and even more cuts and stabs on his limbs and torso, (although given the fact that Euronymous was a deeply disturbed individual, there may actually be some credibility to Varg's claims of self-defense). He is also known for his extremist white nationalist views, but he explicitly hates being called a Nazi, due to the fact that he is "not materialistic, is against fascism, and believes in democracy" and in his mind, Nazism is too closely tied to Christianity. When Vikernes was released from prison in 2009, there was a fear among Norwegians that he would resume the murders and church burnings, but in a strange twist of fate, moved to the countryside, started a farm, got married and is currently raising a family. Some of the rumors about Varg include a story about killing a Lutheran priest (he was charged with said killing, but the charges were quickly dropped), and that Varg and Euronymous conspired to kidnap Swedish death metal musicians and hold them for ransom. The story about the priest was explicitly disproven, but the rumors of ransom kidnappings still persist to this day.
- Katy Perry.
- Madonna definitely fits.
- Christian Weston Chandler, creator of Sonichu.
- Pretty much any dictator, tyrant or autocratic ruler who ever lived has been subject to this, including Adolf Hitler, Robert Mugabe, Muammar Gaddafi (employing an exclusively female team of elite boyguards and keeping a secret scrapbook filled with pictures of Condoleeza Rice), Idi Amin (throwing cutlery and screaming at an opponent's frozen head on a platter during a dinner party), Saparmurat Niyazov (nation-wide bans on beards, tobacco, unpleasant-smelling dogs, and newscasters with excessive makeup), and Emperor Caligula (far, far too many to list here).
- The late Seattle restraunter Ivar Haglund was notorious for his Crazy Awesome stunts. Buying the local TV station to give yourself an excuse to sing Norwegian folk songs for an hour a week? Sending the City Building department a protest in metered rhyme? Taking a baby seal in a pram to meet Santa? Running for office and getting elected as a joke? Underwater billboards?! Yeah. The local newspapers never knew what he was going to pull.
- Older Than Radio example: Marie Antoinette. She was viewed as a symbol of the decadent monarchy and nobility that was running France into the ground, with the final straw being the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, in which a prominent courtier was tricked by a con artist into buying the priceless trinket under the impression he was doing her a discreet favour. There was no proof of her involvement, and most historians feel that she had nothing to do with it, but her reputation was so bad that nobody doubted it. She and the monarchy lost what little credibility they still had with the French people, and The French Revolution broke out a few years later.
- Stage moms and pageant parents in general. One recent example is that of Kerry Campbell, who allegedly gave her eight-year-old daughter Botox injections, then defended this practice (claiming it was never too early get your child cosmetic surgery to "get rid of the lines") and claimed that other pageant moms practiced this as well. The fact that the whole story turned out to be fake did nothing to dispel it.
- The entire state of Florida, so much that we even have a trope about it.
- Politically speaking, South Carolina is no slouch either. It has elected a 100-year-old segregationist to the United States Senate, nominated an unemployed guy with indecency charges pending to that same office, and had a governor leave office after being caught "hiking the Appalachian Trail" — all in a ten-year span.
- To be fair, South Carolina re-elected a 100-year-old segregationist to the Senate, which actually makes a certain amount of sense - the rules of the Senate give a huge advantage to seniority, so electing someone else would mean that Florida's senator would no longer be a committee chairman and would have correspondingly reduced ability to get stuff done for the people of the state. The system of seniority is part of the reason so many states repeatedly re-elect their senators, and South Carolina is by no means the only state to have re-elected an elderly segregationist.
- It's rare for an entire country to fall under this. Colombia is the exception.
- Venezuela is coming close, if only because the antics of their government.
- Australian billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer.
- The Stig from Top Gear is often hyped this way in-show. This does include his other relatives.
- Deliberately invoked by Harry in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, in which it is defied, inverted played with, and deconstructed.
- Harry himself develops a reputation at Hogwarts for being able to do anything with his trademark finger snap, but that comes to bite him in the ass when Lesath Lestrange, certain that he can do anything, went on his knees and begged Harry to release his mother Bellatrix Black from Azkaban. He makes sure that The Daily Prophet releases absolutely ridiculous rumors about him, so that no one ever believes what the papers say about him anymore. He scares a Dementor in front of the Wizengamot, and they take it in stride, because he's The Boy-Who-Lived and it fits story logic. Well, most of them do.
- Draco Malfoy cannot do a good deed without everyone thinking he is plotting something nefarious.
- Dumbledore's Obfuscating Insanity confuses people as to whether he's sane pretending to be insane, or insane pretending to be sane pretending to be insane. He may or may not have used Obfuscating Evil on the Death Eater faction to stop them from taking people's families hostage, but now they think Dumbledore isn't above stooping to any low. But people still have trouble believing that he's set fire to a chicken. Defense Professors have had such a terrible record over the last decades that any accusation against them is plausible... which is why the teachers don't want to hear them, because they don't want to have to fire the professors mid-year; this is for the sake of their students' education.