Today, we begin an analysis of Darren Sharper being charged with drug and rape, and not knowing where the analysis begins makes it that much more important.
A beloved football star was sentenced to 20 years in jail. I’ve already written two articles containing facts that can be mustered out of its headlines. The headline that a man was sentenced to 20 years in jail for rape could mean that all is good in the world for rape activists and all is bad for perpetrators of a rape culture. We could rejoice over this, but we could rejoice and still doubt seriously its revelations of our consumption of a celebrity and unjustified violence.
A collaboration between the two has brought out the worst in us once upon a time. The case we call “The Trial of the Century” involved a football star standing trial as a suspect of murder and acquitted. He was a suspect so familiar that the family dog remained silent at the sight of the murderer on the night in question. He was a suspect so familiar that no one else was swiped for DNA, even if insufficient evidence was the cliffhanger leading into the courtroom. We chose to watch him flee in a white Ford Bronco on television instead.
While his ex-wife, who had even previously warned us of his danger, was no longer able to help analyze why he fled, we mistook his run for a vacation from problems of being a famous football star and not for the planned cover up for murder that it was. We mistook his trophies as an ode to a Civil Rights Movement that he’d previously distanced himself from, and the LAPD was talked upon as framing a black superstar, even though this superstar had been given a privilege unknown to many blacks in Los Angeles at the time, including a team of justice workers who made a man look innocent and not guilty because of the color of his skin. We chose to call them the “Dream Team.”
For a person who was just a baby when that trial began, it is inevitable for me to engage in the offset of the trial of the century: the spectacle and stories. It is this outlier view that I brought into the case of Darren Sharper. There have been blurbs about the status of Darren Sharper because of his drug and rape case. Sportswriters who uphold their right to care about his status in the Football Hall of Fame and others in the media who have focused on his character have provided the dynamic worthy of public attention.
When a magazine published a cover with shattered glass atop a portrait of a television family, we were challenged to interrogate one of our favorite actors about a similar crime as Sharper. The story surrounding the powerful cover had challenged us even more when it reminded us of the entitlement we felt. The complication was that this had been accomplished with a TV character. We had fallen in love with a made-up man and had confused him for the real man. We were so in love that we ignored the first accusation of rape, even as it is said to have happened during the tapings of the show and was spearheaded by a famous model. We had connected all of the dots between us and this man, which included the admiration of aspiring Comedians and other real-life career seekers and the nostalgia of growing up in the 80s. Perhaps, this is what made it so easy for the allegations to be receptive in a comedy segment by a rising Comedian, yet so cringing to be accepting in actual news reports.
The other side to this case is that there is a new woman every day despite the endless settlements being proposed, which brings us closer to the courtroom we want. It is not enough to wish for a jail sentence on the account of our feelings that one man insulted our intelligence with an imaginary man. The truth that these women tell, coupled with the truth we tell ourselves, will move the story from the headlines to the courtroom.
We should know that we can’t move forward with one or the other. If we have just the truth that these women tell, and not the support from the public, then these cases of drug and rape will remain unsolved, cold, and left for the public to handle justice. If we have just the support from the public and not the true stories, then these cases of drug and rape are at the edge of transpiring into the spectacle of video game police chases and sitcom families. Neither of these can happen when the men and women we rely on are owners of things we prioritize beside men and women, such as television and sports.
More recently, a football star, Aaron Hernandez, was found guilty of murder. He’d been caught on video breaking a cellphone and behaving overall erratically over the course of the investigation. I was elated that the court charged him of the crime he was a suspect of all along, in spite of his fame and fortune. I became interested in how we managed to bring our attention to him to justice. He had a football career and wife and child, which all could have led us into the persuasion that he was incapable of committing a crime like the others. What kept us from this deception is ironically the attention that we gave to his behavior. He had committed murder, and not only could the police prove it, but we the public could prove it.
I have no knowledge of Darren Sharper being married or having children, but other family and friends are within range of us having to care about this case, such as a brother, who played in the NFL alongside the younger Darren. The thoughts of Jamie Sharper have been a stint in my own before the sentencing began. This could be telling in the sense of Sharper’s friends, whereas you serve a sentence for acting as an acquaintance to Sharper’s crimes and cover his or it can be telling in the sense of a man who refuses to fall victim to the unfortunate actions of a brother we knew and loved.
There is a surprise in a man who played a professional sport for 14 years being accused of rape by two anonymous women and sentenced for his crime in a court of law. It starts with the headline and ventures off into the public discourse of whether to believe it or not. In figuring out our belief, the surprise must be taken away. In taking away the surprise, it is not so much the elimination process of sentencing for x amount of time, but in the recognition that we have something yet to be eliminated even after eliminating. The recognition that we have something yet to be eliminated even after eliminating makes the eliminating much better and faster.