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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was an epoch when the entertainment value of litigation pertaining to one Oscar could be positioned on par with an event that sees the glitterati of Tinseltown lobbying for an Oscar of an altogether different kind.
And so it was that we found ourselves viciously flung into a season of darkness – one of our own creation, no less… (With apologies to Charles Dickens).
Maybe it was a simple case of coincidence which saw the film industry’s most prestigious annual awards ceremony swinging off the same arm of the clock that marked the start of a murder hearing already deemed “the trial of the decade”.
As, perhaps, is the fact that the Oscar now fighting to defend his freedom – and, some may say, his conscience – was originally pegged as the poster boy for a local TV channel’s marketing campaign leading up to the Academy Awards.
That Pistorius’ conduct in the courtroom will require him to put on a performance to rival that of any Best Actor alumni is an irony not lost on those cynically observing from the sidelines.
(His actual intent in committing the deed of ostensibly little consequence to a watching vampire world, lustfully waiting for the first sign of blood – figuratively speaking).
But while those harrowing Valentine’s Day events are replayed and picked apart by the Rouxs and the Nels, questions being raised beyond the courtroom are proving just as contentious. Questions like:
Why is Reeva Steenkamp’s death deemed more tragic than the countless number of (name-less) women killed across South Africa at the hands of their loved ones, simply because she was beautiful and her boyfriend happens to be famous?
Or, as insensitive as it may seem to say so, would we even know her name had she not died that night, particularly in light of Pistorius’ apparent penchant for switching girlfriends at the drop of a proverbial hat?
And just how did a man on trial for murder come to be regarded as “entertainment”?
The answer: because the media said so.
In a world where the pressure is on to push dwindling newspaper sales and entice audiences away from Honey Boo Boo and her vacuous ilk, the element of entertainment is the only bartering chip on the table.
Like it or loathe it, sensa-tionalism sells. And what could be more sensational than a real-life saga that reads like something straight from a Hollywood script?
Egging the drama on is a trusty troupe of journalists, only too eager to cast off their understudy cloaks and stand centre stage, even if it means having to blur the lines between covering and becoming the story.
After all, this is the stuff legendary careers are carved of, right? Thus, we are treated to a parade of reporters fawning over each other in front of the cameras and prostituting their so-called criminal law expertise in one massive Ellen DeGeneres style “look at us” selfie.
Fuelling the frenzy is Pistorius himself, who has hired a public relations team to manage his public profile.
Yes, the same sort of thing movie stars do. Creepy?
Possibly. And distinctly OJ-esque. But if the journarrati choose to keep feeding the beast because they’re desperate for a juicy story, they can’t complain when they find themselves controlled by it.
LARA DE MATOS