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Celebrities Accused of Murder - Oscar Pistorius (Blade Runner) Killed Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Cops Say

Feb 15, 2013

Another Celebrity Stands Accused of Murder - We're Going Backwards in Condoning Domestic Violence Among the Famed

South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius

Last week, in some 230 countries around the world, people stopped what they were doing and danced in support of the One Billion Rising campaign that seeks to end violence against women and girls -- the "One Billion" referring to U.N. statistics showing that one in three females will be beaten or sexually abused during their lifetimes.

At the same time, South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius, who attained hero status for running on prosthetic legs, shocked the world with his arrest for the murder of his girlfriend, 30-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp.

Reports say that police had been called to Pistorius' home over domestic altercations in the past.

Just a few days prior, Grammy Awards viewers saw Rihanna and Chris Brown cuddling in the audience. No surprise, since she was on hand at his most recent probation hearing, where prosecutors said that he had failed to complete the community service part of his sentence for felony assault against her in 2009.

Yes, she blew kisses at her man in court. Yes, she at one time was planning to be a role model for young girls to get out of abusive relationships, but now she and Chris are sending Instagram pictures from the same bed and letting the world know their relationship is "Nobody's Business" -- as in their duet title -- though in fact it's everybody's business.

You'll recall the headlines swirling in '09 that Brown had choked Rihanna and left her for dead. Then, questions resounded in the media over whether Brown's career was over. We predicted that he would carry on, as, indeed, he has.

Although Brown himself had been known for infectious, upbeat songs -- the vast majority of his fans had at least been exposed to stars like Akon referring to women as bitches and hos. The disgrace of misogynistic hate speech in hip hop (and rock, too, by the way -- "Brown Sugar" anyone?) has been going on so long now, sadly, young women and men today simply view it as part of the scenery, the way things are.

Same with domestic violence among celebrities.

It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when the mere accusation of spousal abuse could kill the momentum in an actor's career.

In 1983, going public about his history of uncontrollable anger -- which had led to his wife charging him with battery -- put then-hugely-popular "Starsky & Hutch" star David Soul's career in deep freeze.

But in more recent years, things have changed. Back when rock drummer Tommy Lee was sentenced to prison over domestic violence involving then-wife Pamela Anderson, many thought that would be the end of his stardom. Few would have imagined that Lee would go on to more success -- including his own reality show and joining in the fun on Pam's popular cable TV roast.

The public got used to the revolving door of breakups and make-ups -- including telltale signs and stories of violence -- between Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston.

Some celebrities have plea bargained and been sentenced to various diversion programs, probation, etc. in spousal abuse cases (examples include Christian Slater and John Singleton), with barely a ripple in their careers.

Among the women who've been in legal trouble for physically attacking their mates are actress Tawny Kitaen and the former Mrs. Slater -- producer Ryan Haddon, who married Marc Blucas in 2009.

By the time of Chris Brown's arrest, it was evident that it would not end his career despite his loss of some endorsements and other fallout -- because the public had become inured to the idea of domestic violence. It just doesn't matter as much as it used to. In fact, "Love the Way You Lie" and "Unapologetic" singer Rihanna's done big business by teasing fans with the S&M shadows in her image.

"Celebrities have a powerful influence on our culture. We admire famous actors, athletes, musicians and other public figures. What does it mean, then, when they fail as role models, when they batter their partners, and we as a culture continue to admire them and pay to see them perform?" asked the Family Violence Prevention Fund on its website a few years ago.

"When we continue to view our celebrities as sexy or heroic even after they are known to be violent to their partners, we condone their behavior and perpetuate domestic violence by helping to create an environment in which violence is viewed as acceptable. Celebrities, and the media that publicize and employ them, must be held accountable. It is up to us, as consumers of entertainment, to make sure that this happens."

Unfortunately, it seems we have moved backwards.


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