Saturday, June 18, 2016

O.J. Documentary

Twenty years ago our lives were consumed by the trial of the century: O.J. Simpson. Like most of you I was transfixed. When I heard on the morning news that Nicole Brown, O.J.'s wife, had been found murdered overnight, I had the same thought that many people had. He did it.

I'd remembered hearing about some domestic abuse case in the past, didn't know all the details, but I didn't need to know. When a woman is murdered, the culprit is almost always the husband/boyfriend/significant other. Add a little history of violence and there you have it. No brainer.

Not fair, granted, but that's the way it is. And so a few days later, O.J. made a promise to turn himself in. Instead he chose to go on the now infamous "slow speed chase". I watched. For hours. Until he finally went home and there was a peaceful arrest.

The first time we saw him in court, he was broken. He behaved in the exact way you would expect a man who had just thrown away his life, as well as two innocent lives, to behave. If only he had stayed that O.J.

Enter the Dream Team, a soulless group of money grubbing lawyers, and the whole thing changed. Over the next several months we were treated to a circus in a courtroom.

Now it's twenty years later. I should no longer be giving a second thought to O.J. Simpson. But first there was the FX mini-series. I watched and was entertained. I figured most of it was relatively truthful, but that there was likely a lot of "creative influence" on the narrative.


But wait. Along comes ESPN and O.J.: Made in America. I wasn't going to watch it, but I'd heard so many people that I respect talk about how compelling it was. So I watched. And it was compelling. And I found that so much of what I'd thought was "creative" in the mini-series, was actual fact. And I know it because there is a lot of footage of the real actors involved.

Now, I was plenty old to remember the Rodney King beating. I saw the video. I was appalled like most of the rest of the public. When those four police officers were found not guilty, I was stunned, too. I'm a white person, so I know I'm not entitled to the same indignation, but I was shocked.

Yes, I am a white person. But I'm a woman. So I do know a little about discrimination. We have now had an African American president, but not a woman. Not yet, at least.

Anyway, I know my opinion doesn't count for much. But when those two jurors in the documentary essentially admitted that their verdict was pay back for Rodney King, my blood boiled.

Don't get me wrong. I am aware that justice is not on the side of the African American community. As a race, African Americans have been dealt brutal cards. I understand the need to make a statement.

But freeing O. J. Simpson? As the documentary made painfully clear, O.J., in his pre-murdering life, made every effort to distance himself from the African American community. He didn't see himself as black. He saw himself as a famous football star, a mediocre actor, but above all else, a celebrity. He lived in Brentwood.

I don't know for sure, but I'd wager a good amount of money on the fact that all twelve of those jurors believed he did it. It was the crime of the century and thus they decided a good time to make a point.

But let me ask you: What's O.J. done for you lately?

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