Pistorius Trial: Celebrities Have Privileges

“With great power comes great responsibility”; it is said, and rightly so.

Celebrities’, be it actors, sport stars, artists of any sort, fame brings with it a lot of opportunities, and at the same time it also carries vulnerability. They are public figures and as adjective suggests, they are hardly entitled to a private life.

In a recent case, Shweta Basu, a Bollywood actress whose career was going downhill, was reportedly arrested for prostitution in a raid conducted in Hyderabad. While such cases of arrest in raids are nothing new in India, Basu became a victim of her own fame. Many women are caught on charges of prostitution on daily basis in India, but because Basu is a public figure, her name associated with prostitution got out through the media. Names of those found in raids are hardly revealed, let alone their faces. But surely, Basu was not “privileged” in that sense.

Now, the news of the popular athlete Oscar Pistorius being found guilty of culpable homicide has taken the media by storm. Pistorius has reportedly been found guilty in the murder charge of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He had apparently shot a bullet at the toilet door, which had its lights switched on, that hit his girlfriend in an “unforeseen” incident, leaving Steenkamp dead.

According to the law, this means that the athlete will have to serve a term of 5 to 10 years imprisonment; if Pistorius will be punished, he will have to give his career up.

It is only today that Pistorius was charged as guilty. His previous trial in South Africa had acquitted him in the case of the murder of his girlfriend. Even now, it is uncertain in what way Pistorius is going to be punished, but many assume he will be let free “because of who he is.”

People were outraged by the South African Judge’s adjournment of the court and many still are looking forward to what the final verdict will be.

Here are some Tweets that are going around:

What is the underlying “concern” in the #PistoriusTrial is not whether he is guilty of the murder charge or not, but rather will he be punished or be acquitted because of his personal identity. Twitter and Facebook are flooded with personal judgments on Pistorius’ trial, and many are raising their voices keeping the fact that Pistorius is a public figure as the first thing in mind.

Outraged with personal verdicts, it is almost like every social media person has acquired a law degree, and only because of the fact that Pistorius is a celebrity.

We do argue for equal treatment of celebrities with common people; Basu’s name should not have got out in the public in the same way a common woman’s name is not revealed when found in raids; verdict against Pistorius should be the same as would be against a common man. However, the reality comes to remain: Celebrities come with privileges and vulnerabilities that the common mass does not have.

Pallavi Sharma

[Image Source: http://files.moguldom.net/sites/21/2014/03/oscar-pistorius-will-stand-trial-pretoria-accused-murdering-his-girlfriend-reeva-steenkamp-2013.jpg]