Welcome to Oscar world

2014-03-02 14:00

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So it’s finally upon us. The Great Oscar ­Moment.

It does not get bigger than this. Think OJ Simpson. Think Michael Jackson. Think Phil Spector.

Tomorrow, a little more than 12 months since he fired those fatal shots that killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, Oscar Pistorius will try to ­convince the court, South Africa and the world that it was all one big mistake – that he pumped four bullets into her little frame because he loved her deeply and was trying to shield her from some unknown enemy.

He will try to win back the adulation the world once showered on him.

It is surreal to think that just 20 months ago, Pistorius occupied centre stage at the London Paralympics, with almost as many cameras focused on him as those trained on ­sprinting sensation Usain Bolt.

In the wake of the Valentine’s Day killing, billions of words were written and spoken about the tragic incident.

What did it say about South Africa’s violent culture? What did it say about South Africans’ relationship with guns?

What did it say about misogyny in our society? What did it say about the South African male?

Specifically, what did it say about the Afrikaner male?

This overthinking was to be expected because the shooter was no ordinary guy.

Pistorius symbolised the triumph of the human spirit over physical adversity. He represented good.

And because we wanted him to be pure, we were ­prepared to see only his beautiful side.

It was only after Steenkamp’s killing that the public learnt about a gun-crazy Pistorius.

Only then did stories emerge about his late-night visits to the shooting range and about his violent tantrums.

At a time when struggle icons had lost their halos and the rainbow nation needed a poster child with cross-cultural

appeal, Oscar was the answer. The media had an insatiable appetite for Oscar the fighter, the athlete and the romancer.

As the world swooned around him, we South Africans collectively pointed to our chests and proclaimed: “He is ours.”

Over the next few weeks, this hero will be stripped naked and the world will peer into his most secret crevices.

Because we made Pistorius a representation of ourselves, the rest of humanity will also delve into South Africa’s most secret spaces.

For the Pistorius family, the next few weeks will be a ­nail-biting time governed by hope and anxiety.

For the Steenkamp family, it will be a time of extreme pain as they relive the last moments of a loved one’s life.

But for most, this will be a time of unrestrained voyeurism.

This will be a show. The biggest and most sensational show this nation will witness for years to come.

World tunes in to SA

From tomorrow, the world’s gaze will be fixed on the North Gauteng High Court, where 40 South African journalists and 40 international journalists from the world’s top media houses have been accredited to observe the trial.

Among the international TV networks represented are the US’s CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN, the UK’s BBC, Sky News and ITV, Chinese Central TV and Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera. Journalists from top newspapers, including France’s Le Monde, Germany’s Die Welt, the UK’s Times, Guardian and Telegraph, and the US’s Los Angeles Times, will also be there.

Yesterday, broadcast vans were parked along Madiba Street outside the court.

Media houses have also booked space and set up marquees outside the lobby of a nearby post office.

Dutch journalist Ruud Braam said he and his crew would sleep inside their marquee tonight.

“We don’t want to miss anything, my friend. Everyone back home wants to see every bit of what will happen here on Monday.” – Debora Patta and Sipho Masondo

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