Ines Schumacher
Ines Schumacher

And the Oscar goes to hypocrisy

The Oscar frenzy has commenced. And I don’t mean the one with the shiny gold men. The trial of the century has begun, you guys. And it’s making me ashamed to work in the media.

Look, I’m no legal expert so I don’t have much of an opinion on the proceedings. Except one. Oscar killed someone. A human life was taken. The problem is that that human life happens to be a beautiful blonde model and that seems to make this so much more important than the legal system would otherwise care to admit.

There wouldn’t be half as much fuss made if Oscar had killed an unarmed criminal in his home. Statistically, that criminal would have been black. So why should the public care? Oscar would have walked away with a fine at best. Because that’s how we roll in post-apartheid South Africa. A white life still seems to be infinitely more valuable than a black one. Rest in peace, Anene Booysen.

My colleague, Verashni Pillay, summed it up perfectly in her analysis this morning:

[Oscar’s] trial, which has grabbed the world’s attention, takes place against a backdrop in South Africa where about 45 000 people, or a third of the country’s prison population, are in prison waiting for their trial to be concluded. The poorest in the country are systematically disadvantaged by our legal system and conviction rates for femicide are dramatically low thanks in part to a badly-trained detective force.

Why do we put so much value on some lives over others? Is an unarmed criminal really worth less than a pretty blonde? Internationally, yes. If Oscar’s case hadn’t created this much international attention, we wouldn’t have our South African journos pretending they’re hotshot legal experts or a 24-hour trial channel. When the trial was delayed this morning, oh how painful were the moments until there was actual news to report. I know this because I work in the media and our office TV is tuned into Carte Blanche’s attempt to make some bucks off this frenzy.

If you’re watching the Oscar channel voluntarily you should know that I have very little respect for you. Many people I know have said they object to the media frenzy. The next day, I see them share a story about it on Facebook or Twitter. You need to do better, nation.

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You’re creating demand, you’re giving the media the hits they want. Without your direct support, the media wouldn’t be dedicating their precious resources to covering the trial.

When you say you object to the media frenzy, here’s a crazy suggestion: Stop fuelling it. Stop tweeting, stop sharing, stop caring. Or you’re just another hypocrite and we have enough of those in the world already.

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