Leave a Good Looking Corpse

Apparently, dead sexy girls sell newspapers.

Why else would the world’s tabloids use bikini shots to mourn the death of Reeva Steenkamp?

This was the front page of The Sun newspaper the day after the law graduate and model was shot dead. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2013/feb/15/sun-oscar-pistorius

“The Sun’s family values: a woman is never too dead to be masturbation fodder,” read one tweet.

“She may be cold in the morgue, but her body’s still smokin’ hot!” according to another.

Former Deputy PM of the UK John Prescott sent a message to Rupert Murdoch’s twitter account, describing it as a “new low” for the paper.

He urged readers to complain, tweeting the phone number and email address of the Sun’s editor with the hashtag #HerNameWasReevaSteenkamp

One critic pointed out the contrast between The Sun and the Eastern Daily Press, which led with women marching against violence for the One Billion Rising movement.

It gets worse.

The headline in the New York Post screams ‘Blade Slays Blonde’, in case we weren’t sure about her hair colour. http://blogs.thescore.com/fanatico/category/new-york-post/

The first line in the New York Daily News story begins, “The 29-year-old FHM cover girl was the face of Avon South Africa, but also had smarts”, as if beauty and brains are mutually exclusive.


It seems in death, as in life, women are seen as a bunch of body parts.

Funnily enough, The Sun newspaper – which won’t use the word t*ts – shows an awful lot of them.

Unless they’re royal t*ts, of course.

The Sun’s outrage over bikini shots of a pregnant Kate Middleton smacks of the Madonna-whore complex: It’s OK to use revealing photos of a dead woman because she worked as a lingerie model, but royalty is off limits.

The Australian media had a moment of lechery over a corpse, with the death of PR manager Denni North in Bali.

We were treated to a series of stories featuring a scantily clad Denni straddling a motorbike and posing in a bikini.

One story, written by Clementine Cuneo, begins, “Beauty Denni North left Australia last year to start a new life in Bali after landing a dream job at a popular beachside club”.


Not “Queenslander Denni North” or “33-year-old Denni North” or “Vivacious Denni North”.

Beauty: defined by her physicality.

In the UK, the Mail Online went further with, “…the sudden death of the popular fun-loving adventure-seeking blonde has shocked her family and friends”.


Some would argue these are statements of fact: both women were beautiful blondes.

But imagine reading similar stories after the death of a man.

“Gorgeous Brian Whittaker moved to the US last year hoping for a better life, before being brutally slain. He was known as a popular blond.”

See what I mean?

And it’s not just the trashy tabloids.

Speaking on the ABC’s The Drum last Friday, Editor-in-Chief of the Australian Women’s Weekly, Helen McCabe explained why the Reeva Steenkamp story was so compelling: “One, it happened on Valentine’s Day. Two, he’s a sporting hero. And three, she was an FHM model. She’s stunning. Those aspects are just gold for the media, because there are great pictures of them.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-15/the-drum-friday-15-february/4522558

It reminds me of a discussion I overheard in a TV newsroom about 10 years ago.

“We need to do more breast cancer stories; good excuse to show tits.”

As I wrote in this piece for News Ltd., some cancers are dead sexy.


In cancer, as in death, we should view the person as a whole.

Reeva Steenkamp wasn’t just the girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius. She wasn’t just a model. And she wasn’t just a “smokin’ hot” babe.

According to her family she was a kind-hearted woman, passionate about social justice, about to do a Master of Laws.

One of her last tweets mentioned the brutal gang rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen in South Africa.

“I woke up in a happy safe home this morning. Not everyone did.”

In a clip from a soon-to-be-aired reality TV show, she said, “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”.

Somehow, I don’t think she meant becoming masturbation fodder for necrophiliacs.

Click on this link to sign a petition calling on the editor of The Sun newspaper to apologise. http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-sun-newspaper-apologise-for-the-distasteful-front-cover-of-reeva-steenkamp-2