(Liya Rechtman)– Oh wait, this happens all the time, which leads us to the question: why is this particular athlete notable? Oscar Pstorius looks exactly like every other mildly attractive, Aryan (read: uber-mensch, alpha male) man. He was about .75 seconds away from being able to compete with the South African team in the 2008 Olympics in Bejing, and then he started modeling for a fragrance company. Fairly typical guy. Right? WRONG.
Here’s what’s cool about Oscar: he’s a runner with no legs.
Instead of legs, he runs on carbon fiber “Cheetah” prosthetics. Oscar started out running in the South African ParaOlympics, but he was so fast that he qualified for able-bodied races.
This move didn’t go over so well with the general runner population. Oscar’s legs, it turned out, were not only good enough to compete with able-bodied runners, but too good. In 2008 the International Association of Athletics Federation passed a new rule for competitive sports about not using any technological devices. Obviously, Oscar, the most promising new disabled athlete, was disqualified, to maintain the “purity” of the sport, according to IAAF officials.
Just like the Daredevil, the blind superhero who fights villains with his enhanced hearing, Oscar had challenged the concept of disability. As the New York Times put it, Oscar’s “equalizer” was more of an “edge” on other runners. Unfortunately, unlike Ben Affleck’s character, his world was not ready to accept that.
So now he’s modeling. And it turns out that on top of testing the boundaries between technology and man, he’s really hot. But more important is the way A*Men is advertising him. They’re using his legs in their ads. They are making him the next step in realized science fiction.
Dig deep back into your super nerdy middle school self who read sci-fi under your lab notebook during 6th grade physics demos. Remember Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” series and how Card wrote about “desks,” devices that the students used for “free play.” Card wrote that book YEARS before laptops and yet there they were, prophesied in his series. A*Men’s new ad campaign feels similar. It’s very common, especially in apocalyptic science fiction, to have half-human, half-robot, centaur-like beings who are treated as regular, or slightly elevated people. Seeing NYT’s fashion article about Oscar, I couldn’t help thinking that I had landed in the middle of a nerd-science-fantasy.
Take a look at this video:
Read more about Oscar here: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/15/sports/othersports/15runner.html?pagewanted=1 and http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/14/fashion/oscar-pistorius-a-model-and-front-runner.html