Oscar Pistorius: Reeva Steenkamp is turning on the world – it’s what she would have wanted
THE OSCAR Pistorius murder trial: Why are we watching it? The Paralympian’s girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, died at his home in Pretoria on Thursday. Steenkamp was shot four times. Bullets hit her in the head, chest and hand. It seems as through they were fired through the bathroom door at the runner’s home on the Silver Lakes Golf Estate on Thursday. A 9mm pistol was found at the home. The next day the Sun led with the photo of bikini model Steenkamp in a bikini.
To our mind it looked like the cover of a Mexican fotonovela, rather than a serious news sheet, a lurid, sexualised image that portrayed the woman as one who died because of her sexuality. What role did the bikini play in her death? Did she seduce death?
Labour MP Chris Bryant tweeted: “This is a simply despicable front page. It glories in domestic violence. @rupertmurdoch apologise.”
(So. It was domestic violence? Case closed!)
John Prescott’s tweeted: “I really hope every member of the shadow cabinet thinks twice before writing for the Sun after that front page.”
Because the Labour Party are uniquely people of irrefutable honour who don’t do tawdry sensationalism? It will all be ok with Labour. Ivan Lewis was the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport who wanted journalists licensed and then struck off if the elite thought them unworthy. The notion of senior politicians deciding what is fit for the press to publish is not the sign of a healthy democratic country. The elite must not, as Mick Hume writes in his excellent There is No Such Thing As a Free Press, “police the motives and minds of tabloid journalists – and their readers.”
One Sun hack put it succinctly:
“Andy Coulson often joked that the essence of tabloid journalism is turning someone over one day, and them ringing to thank you the next,”
Free expression is always preferable.
Suzanne Moore said the cover was “lechery over a corpse…A woman just murdered? I hope mass boycott.”
Let’s see what it does for sales. My guess is that if you like the Sun and buy it, you’ll carry on liking it and buying it. If you don’t like the Sun, you’ll continue to be upset by it.
Roy Greenslade wrote in the Guardian:
So complain away. Argue the case. Embarrass Rupert Murdoch. But also understand that cultural change takes time. One bright fact to note: The Sun and the Daily Star used to sell, between them, more than twice as many copies as they do now. That’s progress, is it not?
Always odd to hear a journalist delighting in the death of newspapers.
Of course, these were Steenkamp’s work clothes. Pistorius is pictured on the same cover in his running vest and blades. From now on the Sun will portray all dead people as they worked. It’s the way of soldiers killed in action. Dead prostitutes will be pictured dressed provocatively; dead doctors will be pictured dressed in white coats and stethoscopes; dead rapists will be dressed as Jimmy Savile (allegedly); and so on.
On Twitter, we’re being invited to play along with he case. Trish Taylor is the other of Samantha Taylor, one of Oscar Pistorius’s old flames. Trish write on Twitter:
“I am so glad that Sammy is safe and sound and out of the clutches of that man – there were a few occasions where things could have gone wrong with her and his gun during the time they dated. My condolences to the family whose daughter has passed away. My heart breaks for you”.
The Times reported:
“Oscar is certainly not what people think he is,” Ms Taylor told a South African newspaper in November. She claimed to another newspaper that she was “prepared to reveal what (Pistorius) made me go through” but later withdrew her comments through her lawyers.
As Trish Taylor does her best to prejudice any trial, Canberra Paralympian Michael Milton tells media:
“Those fighting qualities we’ve seen, the determination of him growing up as a double leg amputee, those have made him a mentally tough person. Hopefully it will put him in good stead to face the challenges that are going to await him. It’s impossible to know if he’s going to disappear off the face of the earth or if somehow circumstances will lead to him bouncing back. It would be great to think he would, because as an athlete he is a joy to watch.”
Didn’t someone get shot to death? Well, if you’re lucky you can watch Reeva Steenkamp on a reality TV show, Tropika Island of Treasure. SABC worker Samantha Moon says a commercial TV station broadcasting a reality TV show featuring the allegedly murdered bikini model currently riding high on the news cycle was what the dead woman would have wanted. Reeva was ever the professional. She told the BBC’s Newshour:
“I took it after consultation with her family and the feeling was that this is an amazing woman who you don’t have very much in the public domain except for the work she was most well known for… which is her modelling work. We felt that it was important for people to know that there was more to the narrative of Reeva than an exceptionally beautiful girl in a bikini, that she was strong and vibrant and funny and lovely and that this is a tragedy on an unspeakable level.”
Reeva’s cousin, Sharon Steenkamp, told the Associated Press news agency: “Her last words to us personally was that she wants us to watch it.”
Well, yes. She went on the telly. Of course, she wanted to be watched. Only, she might have foreseen her imminent and untimely death. It might be that the broadcaster is just milking the moment.
Is it all just entertainment?
The South African authorities seem uncertain:
Sanef chairman Nic Dawes said there was no intention to contravene a court order prohibiting the taking of photographs during the athletes’ first court appearance on Friday. “There seemed to have been confusion regarding the court ruling on the covering of the case,” Dawes said. This comes after some newspapers published photos of Pistorius crying in court on their front pages on Saturday. Magistrate Desmond Nair had ruled against live broadcasts of the matter on Friday.
Sound recordings of the arguments and judgment were allowed but photographs could only be taken before or after court proceedings. Images of Pistorius covering his face with his hands as he cried, were taken during proceedings, which was a contravention of Friday’s ruling.