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 childrennote
, biting said opponent in the ring, biting off part of the ear of another
, 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/All Women Are Lustful: The easiest way for somebody 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.
- 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.
- The Stig from Top Gear is often hyped this way in-show. This does include his other relatives.
- 30 Rock's Tracy Jordan not only draws this image (he has admitted that some of the things people think about him aren't true), but actively cultivates it. On one occasion, he gets a (washable) facial tattoo because he's afraid a magazine article will lead people to believe that he's normal.
- Rich Hall jokingly suggested one episode that QI had got to the opposite of this stage—that Fry could say anything in his capacity as host and the public would believe it to be true.
- John Oliver discusses this in his HBO show Last Week Tonight Starring John Oliver, where he notes that Iraqi terrorist group ISIS has become so insane that people will believe anything about them.
- The entire genre of Visual Kei (especially in its original iteration of Visual Shock) was and is about intentionally entering this with one's persona, one's band's image, and sometimes even one's own personal life. Some artists have been especially good at it (although, sadly, some of the best at it became so due to mental health or alcohol and drug problems...)
- Invoked by John Oliver in one of his routines, where he talks about encountering Tyson in Las Vegas and realising that he really should go to bed now - this being the purpose of Mike Tyson: to let you know when you're about to go too far and should instead go home. Oliver theorises that deploying Mike Tyson might be a more effective means of dispersing riots than tear gas.
- South Park: Eric Cartman is the poster child for this trope in a fictional setting starting with season 5. Acknowledged and played with in a twisted manner in season 15's "1%".