Wednesday, March 29, 2017

O.J.: Made in America

So I finally indulged in the award-winning documentary O.J.: Made in America. It's a five part series, totaling nearly eight hours.

It chronicles the life of O.J. Simpson, beginning in the late 1960s when he became an All-American football player at the University of Southern California right through his 2008 conviction (ironically on the 13th anniversary of his acquittal of double murder) of kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas.

Certainly a good portion of the documentary focuses on the "Trial of the Century" where Simpson was found not guilty of the June 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. But what was most riveting was the perspective of those who had a key role in the trial, particularly some of the attorneys, law enforcement officials and jurors.

Another fascinating perspective was how Simpson was mostly above the fray when it came to race relations in a decade (the 1960s) where white-black tensions were at its zenith. Many black activists were dismayed that someone as high profile as Simpson would not be a voice for justice within the black community. Around that same time frame, many white folks embraced Simpson given his prowess on the football field and his charisma off of it.

Despite the black community being mostly shunned by Simpson his entire adult life, they rallied around him when he went on trial for murder in 1995. Some even suggested that they didn't even consider whether Simpson was guilty of double homicide. After four white Los Angeles police officers were not convicted in the savage beating of black motorist Rodney King a few years earlier, some black citizens (and even Simpson trial jurors) felt satisfied that this was a quid pro quo for the King verdict. Another memorable moment conjured up was the infamous live TV shots of when the verdict was announced. While most black people rejoiced, the expression on the faces of white folks was that of incredulity. It was further emphasis that even in 1995 there was still a significant racial divide.

Anyhow, if you enjoy documentaries about sports, culture and social issues, this production intertwines all aspects. I highly recommend it.


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