The long legal soap opera known as the Oscar Pistorius trial finally ended this week.
The Pistorius show is the second most significant contribution that South Africa has made to the cultures of other nations. For those who are curious, that nation’s third most significant contribution is the vuvuzela and the greatest contribution is Ladysmith Black Mombazo’s singing on Paul Simon’s Graceland album.
The lead character, Pistorius, was a legless paralympic athlete (nicknamed “The Blade Runner” because of his metallic artificial legs) who shot his live in girlfriend through their bathroom door in the show’s first episode. His reason for the shooting was never clear. The producers left it an open question. Fans argued over which of the theories presented during the show were the motive – domestic violence or a terrible accident.
“Terrible accident” hinged on the idea that the Pistorius character believed that he was not shooting his girlfriend, he was shooting an intruder who was in his bathroom. Fans howled at this story line, “completely unbelievable” they said, “who breaks in to a home to have a poop?”
The Pistorius Show carried on, with Oscar being tried for murder. Now, when I say the trial carried on, what I mean is that it really did carry on, and on, and on. The trial portion took up 99% of the show’s run of just over four years. One of the features of the trial was the super-natural amounts of vomit and tears ejected by Oscar. This meaning of this tsunami of bodily fluids was left to the viewer’s interpretation.
In the United States and around the world, fans gathered at viewing parties and in bars to watch the final episodes together.
The judge (Thokozile Masipa, in the role she was born to play) announced her verdict – guilty of culpable homicide – a lesser form of murder that essentially embraced the “terrible accident” theory. Negative reviews poured in as soon as the “Verdict” episode went off the air. “Unbelievable”, groused one critic, “how can the producers get us invested in these characters and present the story line they did, but wrap the show in an ending like this?”
But the writers had another shock in store for the show’s fans. In the final episode, the judge sentenced Oscar to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend – just one year more than his trial took. The calls for a sequel that were numerous as the end of the show grew close, dropped to none after the “Sentence” episode.
All things considered, I’d rather listen to vuvuzelas for months on end than go through watching and being disappointed in another South African soap opera.
Fans who hoped for a harsher sentence were comforted by the show’s final scene, Oscar in a prison exercise area. Another inmate recognizes the legless runner and asks if he is Oscar Pistorius.
Oscar looks up at him and says “me? No, I’m Neal Short.”
Yes, I know. You read all that crap just so I could make a pun about a guy with no legs. Let’s be fair, he isn’t a nice guy with no legs.