I just finished watching this remarkable documentary on OJ Simpson AKA "The Juice" from his college days at USC [University Of Southern California], through the double murder trial of Nicole Brown & Ron Goldman, & finally his downfall when he attempted to steal his own memorabilia back at gunpoint. I tried to watch this miniseries previously on my DVR, but an intense thunderstorm prevented me from seeing the whole program in it's entirety. Fortunately for me, the whole documentary was run yesterday morning & afternoon so I received the historical context I needed & I was pleased to watch it with no interruptions or technical difficulties.
The 1st thing that shocked me was how OJ Simpson didn't perceive himself as a black man while being a superstar running back at USC. Now, maybe part of was that OJ was attending school in Hollywood, CA the land of celebrities & movie stars. It's easy to see how an incredible athlete would be seduced by fame, the limelight, motion picture actors who were alumni of USC; & how being surrounded by white people everyday of your university existence might persuade to be-friend this affluent community of movers & shakers almost immediately to rise above your poverty stricken humble beginning & improve your lot in life for a better financial future. According to the documentary, OJ wanted to transcend race & make a name for himself by becoming wealthy & famous while at the same time ejecting his biological, black background totally. Being driven to become famous & live in the lap of luxury is perfectly fine. There's no problem there except for 1 thing: You can't abandon your community, pop it like an unwanted zit, & pretend like the Watts riots in 1966 or police mistreatment of black citizens on the south side of the west coast wasn't happening or not even taking the time to care or educate yourself about it.
There's something troubling about a man who doesn't want anything to interfere with positive publicity OJ is receiving from white community power players in society because he can run really fast with a football scoring touchdowns while dark skinned individuals are being harassed, beaten, rounded up, sprayed with fire houses, & having German shepards lunge at innocent victims in an aggressive manner. Okay sure, OJ Simpson was a young college kid & perhaps expecting him to be a civil rights advocate or a Nelson Mandela in training is a tad bit unfair to an 18 year old man. However, as OJ grew older, he made a conscious decision, really a final decision, to attach himself to the white corporate america community in order to become filthy rich as the spokesman for Hertz Rental Car Co., RC Cola, & Chevrolet automobiles. He wanted to appear non-threatening to white America & the only way to do that was to steer clear of Mohammad Ali's controversy of dodging the draft, refusing to fight in South East Asia, & becoming a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. Ali said famously "No Vietcong [citizen] ever called me the N word; Why would I wanna fight them?" OJ wanted to shy away from anything like this. Any move or gesture that associated him with radical tendencies or alliances Simpson refused to touch because it might stand in the way of the almighty dollar or making money & living comfortably.
When we fast forward to the double murder trail & OJ gets arrested in 1994 on the grounds of his estate, he's surprised to see all the people & cameras assembled there & he says in the back seat of a squad car, "What are all these N words doing here?" My mouth dropped. OMG! He didn't just say what I think he did did he? I hit rewind on my DVR & sure enough he did. Whoa. I just sat there in silence for a moment. This man really believes he's above race literally. That is scary & delusional at the same time. It reminds me of when Tiger Woods said he wasn't black that he was Polynesian. Wait. What? Come on Tiger really? Stop playing semantics & being cute man. It's 1 thing to be embraced & accepted by more than 1 race or culture sure, but don't pretend that you can visibly deny your own identity Tiger & OJ. You're not fooling anybody except maybe yourself gentlemen.
Yet another thing I found peculiar is that jurors tended to idolize OJ in the courtroom. The found him sharply dressed, well groomed, good looking, & charismatic. Raving above his smile & how he flirted & waved back at them. Is part of the reason they acquitted him is because jurors felt that if we let him walk we'll get a taste of the good life ourselves thru book deals & tabloid TV appearances? It sure seems like it. Just because you claim OJ is not guilty on all murder charges, it doesn't mean you're part of OJ lavish lifestyle now you know. Has OJ expressed an gratitude to the jury for releasing him from prison at all? Did he offer to take them out to dinner say as a final thank you? Nope. And why did jurors not hold OJ's infidelity to Nicole & frequent domestic violence 911 calls against him? That just baffles me to this day.
The reaction to adding Cristopher Darden to Marcia Clark's prosecution team was hilarious to me. Here's what I mean: Carl Douglas on Johnny Cochran's Dream Team for the defense displayed a textbook case of reverse racism in this documentary when Darden became a member of the prosecution. Carl pretended to be so appalled that he was added to the opposition's ticket just to add a flavor of diversity & win points with the jury. Are you kidding me Carl with that fake outrage sir? Well, that's richly insincere when OJ your client wanted nothing to do with the black community until 1994 & now he wants to embrace the community he has shunned for years simply because a black jury pool might lead him to freedom huh? Or that the lead defense attorney shifted from a white Robert Shapiro to a well respected attorney in the black community named Johnny Cochran? Purely coincidental, I'm sure right? Chris Darden had it so tough man. He can't win in either community no matter what he does. If OJ got convicted for double murder, the black community views him as a traitor to their race & by losing; he takes heat because he worked for the enemy or white community that tried to take away a football god from the world. Chris also took unfair flack from Johnny when Cochran was expressing fake outrage over Darden's claim that derogatory use of the N word in open court would prevent jurors from looking just at the physical evidence accumulated against Simpson alone. And then Johnny turns the whole thrust of his case on a conspiracy of police brutality with Mark Fuhrman as the poster child for law enforcement bigotry because the detective who found the bloody glove frequently used the N word when interacting with black citizens on patrol in the Watts district.
Was Mark Fuhrman biased & racially insensitive to members of the African American community? Absolutely, he was. The man should have been fired from LAPD years before the OJ Trial saw the light of day man. Marcia Clark totally blew this case by letting him testify. What kind of detective doesn't pick up the glove without a partner present? You do this for another witness who can be sworn in under oath if you run into a problem with your star witness. Marcia Clark was so darn incompetent it's not even funny. What kind of chief prosecutor with experience didn't vet her main witness man? Grr! Gee, your guy hates black people & sues the city of Los Angeles over the stress of patrolling Watts & you Marcia feel no need to verify that fist? Hello! What a colossal bafoon you are Miss Clark. I'm still royally ticked off today over her gross trial mismanagement. If you didn't want Darden to have OJ try the gloves on, you put your foot down & say no. How hard is that? You're the chief prosecutor correct? SMH.
I did admire the fact that Mark Fuhrman did answer all questions posed to him during this miniseries though. He didn't tuck his tail & run. He's still racist but he deserves credit for facing the criticism music. I have to give him that.
I remember seeing the Rodney King beating on TV like yesterday. I was shocked & horrified at the same time. Jesus. Stop it! Nobody deserves being beaten within an inch of his life with nightsticks. He's darn near unconscious on the ground & multiple white cops claimed they feared for their lives. How?! They were the ones distributing unlawful & excessive punishment. So, Rodney is a threat bleeding & bruised on the ground? Are you kidding me? That's absurd man. And then, somehow 4 officers charged with excessive force get the location of the trial moved & they are acquitted? What the hades? The abuse is on tape man. I was furious. I truly was. I swear. Jury nullification pure & simple. A darn travesty.
I understood why Watts exploded again in 1992. Black men & women had reached the breaking point of being harassed by the LAPD, frequent choke holds being used to immobile, arrest, & terminate their lives as a means of containment. The Watts community just erupted in frustration & that frustration led to fires, rampant property damage, & explosions. So many in the white community asked why are they destroying everything where they live? How does that benefit them? The reason the African American community in Watts lashed out is that they were tired of being beaten, harassed, arrested, & killed with no justice in the eyes of the law. There isn't supposed to be a different set of rules & protections based on a person's gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or income level. And what's so outrageous is that when those 4 police officers were acquitted after beating Rodney King, many black citizens felt like their lives didn't matter because there were no repercussions for either excessive force or dehumanizing their race, culture, & daily existence.
I understand that there are good police officers out there. They aren't all Mark Fuhrmans. I just needed to say that.
I will continue my review of OJ Made In America later I promise. It just helps me to put my thoughts down on paper or online I guess for my own sanity & piece of mind.