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QOTD: Was South African TV right to air a reality show featuring Reeva Steenkamp (even with her family’s approval)?

Reeva Steenkamp

By now you’ve heard the not-at-all surprising news: Another famous, successful male athlete has killed his female intimate partner. Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius is accused to shooting to death Reeva Steenkamp last week, and has been charged with murder.

Here’s the next not-at-all-surprising thing. South African TV network SABC on Saturday night aired an episode of a reality television program featuring Steenkamp, who was a model. From South Africa’s IOL News:

Johannesburg – It was billed as a fitting tribute to “an intelligent, beautiful and amazing woman” but the airing of a Caribbean reality TV show featuring the girlfriend of Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius two days after she was shot dead has upset some South Africans.

In particular, women’s rights activists criticised an edited clip at the start of Saturday night’s Tropika Island Of Treasure in which law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp talks about her “exit”.

“I think that the way you go out, not just your journey in life but the way that you go out and you make your exit is so important,” she says, leaning against a palm tree in a pre-recorded interview on the show’s set in Jamaica.

At the end of the tribute, presumably recorded when she was voted off the show, she blows kisses to the camera and says: “I’m going to miss you all so much. I love you very, very much.”

Show producer Samantha Moon said the decision to air the programme on Saturday as scheduled was difficult but ultimately she wanted to share the “special memories” of Steenkamp.

“Reeva was an intelligent, beautiful and amazing woman, and we feel it would be an injustice to keep that unknown from those who did not know her personally,” Moon said.

Sure. From The Independent:

Samantha Moon, executive producer of the show and owner of the Johannesburg production company, Stimulii, said her firm was “in no way seeking to exploit” the model’s murder and that airing the programme was the best “tribute” to Ms Steenkamp. At the same time, however, Mrs Moon was charging news outlets $3,000 each to broadcast a short clip from the television show – with at least a dozen networks buying rights.

On Friday, as news of the airing spread, we heard that SABC had the permission of Steenkamp’s family to air the episode. However, the AP (via Newsday) says otherwise:

Steenkamp’s family said earlier Saturday that it had not been contacted by either the SABC — South Africa’s national broadcaster — or the show’s producers for permission to air it, but were not opposed to it because Reeva wanted everyone to see it.

“Her last words to us personally were that she wants us to watch it,” Sharon Steenkamp said, hours before the program was shown.

Was South Africa TV right to air a reality show featuring Reeva Steenkamp (even with her family’s approval)?

It seems ghoulish to me. What do you think? Is there any parallel universe in which the decision was made not to air this, or was it entirely inevitable, given the buzzardlike nature of pop culture today?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)


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