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Oscar Pistorius - Hero or Hooligan?

03 November 2011, 12:44

Oscar and those around him like to paint him as a hero. An athlete who should be regarded as a positive role-model.  Someone who should be emulated.

But what and who is the real Oscar? Is he a hero or is the truth that he is closer to a hooligan than we are usually led to believe?  We have seen glimpses of the "non-hero" a number of times in the press. The boating accident and stories of drunkenness associated with the incident. The girl and the purported assault – again with stories of associated alcohol abuse.  All of these stories have been rapidly, even vehemently denied. Nothing should tarnish the hero image.

To add to this, "friends of friends" come back from parties and report the latest incidences that demonstrate the (lack of) behaviour of Oscar with great relish. A waitress one knows who believes she had the misfortune to serve him.  That type of thing.  It’s not surprising therefore that I’ve often wondered whether the stories are true or not – you know the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” type of thing. And if they are true, whether they are made to “disappear” because somehow people feel sorry for Oscar and will excuse his behaviour because he is a "star" or the more likely option because he is "handicapped".

Apart from an idle 'I wonder' from time to time, I had never really bought into it though.  I preferred to think that the person who is presented to us (by him and his representatives) - the 'admirable Oscar' - is the same person as the 'real Oscar'.  Unfortunately my inclination to view him positively and to feel sorry for him about the ‘nasty rumours’ that are spread about him came to a disillusioning abrupt halt the other evening.

I had the unfortunate opportunity of finding out first hand how unheroic Oscar can be in real life when he has had too much to drink.

I was at the Kings of Leon concert on Friday night with my fiancé, my best friend and her husband.  We were seated in the golden circle.  An exceptionally drunk and incredibly rude Oscar Pistorius was also there.  Unfortunately he seemed to be far too comfortable with being both drunk and rude than one would have liked for one of our "heroes".

My first glimpse of Oscar was seeing him all but fall into a group of people and had to be helped up by one of his equally drunk friends. We just looked at one another and shook our heads. Maybe he just looked that drunk because his blades weren’t too stable.  As the evening progressed, Peter (my friend’s husband) and Adrian (my fiancé) went off to buy us something to drink.  Marilyn and I were rocking away to the fantastic Shadowclub when we were practically shoved off our feet by Oscar.  This was no accidental stumble! It was a pure and simple act of arrogance and aggression.  When Marilyn (in a firm but extremely non-aggressive manner) told Oscar that his behaviour was rude and unacceptable, she was met with a flurry of verbal abuse! This included being labelled “f…ing lesbians” and a significant amount more. Good manners preclude a repetition of the full gamut of the tirade.  Marilyn – profoundly taken aback – said to Oscar “what is your problem”.  His reply: “I’m drunk, what’s yours.”

I’m not usually phased by people who are not too sober.  Both Adrian and Peter have been known to hand the car keys to one of us ‘girls’ after a night out.  What phased me was the thoroughly unpleasant Oscar that emerged after his drinking.  It was clear from his behaviour that evening that Thomas de Quincy’s comment that “most men are disguised by sobriety” may very well have been written with just such a performance as Oscar’s in mind.

There are a number of questions that have been left in our minds as a result of our unfortunate encounter with Oscar.  Firstly, if he is such a ‘hero’ why was his default position one of extreme profanity, arrogance and disregard – even contempt - for others.  Secondly, why did he believe being drunk excused his disgusting behaviour.  Finally and I believe probably the most serious indictment against him from my perspective was related to why he felt the need to be abusive to women.  The attack on us was without any provocation whatsoever.  Not that I believe that provocation ever serves to excuse abusive behaviour but it does sometimes allow us to explain its occurence.  As part of this abuse, why was it Oscar’s automatic mysoginistic response to label two women standing together as ‘lesbians’?  While neither of us comes close to fitting any stereotypes attached to such a label, one would be profoundly concerned that someone who is punted as a “shining example” harbours negative stereotypes about women in any way (irrespective of their sexual orientation).

I am afraid that this ‘golden boy’ has not only tarnished his image as far as we are concerned.  He offered us conclusive evidence that there is just a very, very thin veneer of gold paint that covers him.

How sad.

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