The Paralympic sprinter shot his model and paralegal girlfriend Steenkamp at home in 2013, something he claims to have done by accident after mistaking her for a burglar. He was convicted of culpable homicide in 2014 and later of murder in 2015, for which he is serving a 13-year prison sentence.
On Tuesday (27 October), the trailer for BBC Two documentary The Trials of Oscar Pistorius was released, with the four-part series featuring interviews with figures closest to the story and recounting Pistorius’s “fall from grace” following Steenkamp’s death.
However, critics online were infuriated by the trailer, in which Steenkamp is only referred to as “his girlfriend” or “she” and never named, with her name trending on Twitter as a result.
“What on earth is this,” Owen Jones commented on the trailer. “It centres the fall of a killer as the real tragedy, and doesn't even mention the name of the woman he murdered. Her name was Reeva Steenkamp.”
— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) October 27, 2020
“Hard to tell from a 2 min trailer and I will watch the whole documentary, but it is *amazing* after all the criticism at the time that yet again she is rendered invisible, a nameless victim: in this her name is not uttered once,” another commenter wrote, adding again: “Her name was Reeva Steenkamp.”
Other social media users commented that the BBC “should be ashamed” by the “disgusting” trailer, with one accusing the documentary of “painting abusive men as the victims”.
What on earth is this? It centres the fall of a killer as the real tragedy, and doesn't even mention the name of the woman he murdered.
Her name was Reeva Steenkamp https://t.co/1KoLqBW0wo
— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) October 27, 2020
— Caroline Hirons (@CarolineHirons) October 27, 2020
Just what we need, more fawning fascination with men who kill:
A promo telling us he was a 'really nice guy' who was an 'international icon' and a 'remarkable figure'.
A TOTAL FAILURE to even name the woman he killed:
Shame on you BBC. https://t.co/ChIV8Mwddv
— David Challen (@David_Challen) October 27, 2020
No one says Reeva Steenkamp’s name in this trailer, or speaks for her. In seven years with all that’s supposedly changed about editorial practice and how we talk about these stories, she’s just back to being the unnamed girlfriend. https://t.co/Nf3s5eK0RO
— Dr Fern Riddell (@FernRiddell) October 27, 2020
“Just what we need, more fawning fascination with men who kill,” another commenter wrote. “A promo telling us he was a ‘really nice guy’ who was an ‘international icon’ and a ‘remarkable figure’. A TOTAL FAILURE to even name the woman he killed: Reeva Steenkamp. Shame on you BBC.”
The Independent has contacted the BBC for comment.
Speaking of the documentary, director Daniel Gordon said: “The story of Oscar Pistorius is remarkable in its complexity. It’s at once inspirational and harrowing, and provides a lens of insight into a breadth of issues - from gender-based violence to disability rights, racial inequality and media frenzy. My hope is that the film gives audiences additional context and layers to a story they think they know.”
BBC iPlayer controller Dan McGolpin also said in a press release: “This incredible documentary series provides new perspectives on the terrible events of Valentine’s Day 2013, giving us a deeper and closer look at one of the world’s most remarkable sporting figures, on the South Africa that he grew up in and the media circus that surrounded his trial for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.”
The Trials of Oscar Pistorius will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer from 7 November and will be broadcast on BBC Two at a later date.
Anyone who requires help or support in relation to the topics mentioned in this article can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline which is open 24/7, 365 days per year on 0808 2000 247 or via their website: www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk