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Top 5 Takeaways from OJ Simpson: Made in America

When I first heard that ESPN was going to be doing a documentary on OJ Simpson, I was one of the many people that was thinking “my gosh, not another OJ special.”  I felt America has been talking about this man and his infamous exploits since I was a young boy, barely in school.  Then with all the 20/20 and Dateline specials, combined with the Ryan Murphy American Crime Story anthology from earlier this year, I really had no intentions on watching OJ: Made in America.  Well, let me just say how glad I am that I ignored my original inclinations.  OJ: Made in America may be the best documentary I’ve ever seen.  It was so enlightening and captivating.  And it wasn’t just a story of the OJ Simpson murder trial.  It was an insightful history of race relations in LA.  From watching the mini docuseries, I was able to come up with five takeaways.  Well more than five really, but I’ll just list five here.  Take a look!

  1. OJ Simpson’s Father Was Supposedly Gay

I was most definitely not expecting to learn that.  I can’t believe I hadn’t heard that sooner. And to add to that, OJ allegedly beat up Nicole one time for allowing their son to sit next to a gay man at a restaurant. Which makes you wonder, was/is OJ homophobic?  If so, does that homophobia stem from knowing his dad was gay?  It would make sense if the answers to these questions were both yes, because it would fall in line with OJ’s apparent fascination with maintaining a straight and narrow public image (pre murder trial image that is).  It’s just so interesting.

 

  1. The Prosecution in the OJ Simpson Murder Trial Botched the Case

Although I already had my own feelings about Christopher Darden, Marcia Clark, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, the documentary really cemented them.  As intelligent as those on the prosecution’s side may have been, they were completely unprepared for this case and the public scrutiny it brought about with it.  First off, Christopher Darden should have never been added to the prosecution team.  The DA fell into the race trap set by the defense, and added Darden to the case in the eleventh hour.  A clear ploy by the DA’s office to attempt to give the illusion that LA County doesn’t have a racial bias.  However, it backfired because the defense brilliantly was able to paint Darden as a token black. And then Darden is the one that made the fatal error of having OJ try on the infamous glove.  That glove incident was perhaps the mightiest blow to the prosecution’s case.

To add, the prosecution mistakenly made a racist detective their star witness.  In a case that was as much an inquisition against the LAPD as it was a murder trial against OJ Simpson, why would you make Mark Fuhrman the golden witness of your case?  He was known to spew racially charged insults, and had a record of not being the most enlightened in terms of diversity.  And if the glove incident was the mighty blow to the prosecution’s case, Mark Fuhrman pleading the fifth when asked if he manufactured evidence in the case, was the nail in the coffin.  I could sit here and list other missteps of the prosecution, but I don’t have the energy.

 

  1. OJ Ignorantly Believed He Was Entitled to White Privilege

This is the point that actually made me feel sorry for OJ.  I honestly believe that OJ was under the impression that all his success in football and his popularity in Hollywood, elevated him past his black identity.  That somehow, he reached a point in his career that his race could be an afterthought, and no one saw him as a black man.  He thought he was above the law.  Given he was barely slapped on the wrist for assaulting Nicole prior to her murder, he had every reason to believe that.  However, I think in the midst of the murder trial, he was hit with a hard reality.  That no matter how much money you make, and how famous you may become, you will never erase your blackness in America. You may be able to buy similar perks of white privilege on occasion, but you will never truly be entitled to it. No matter how hard you try, or likable you may be.

 

  1. To OJ, Infamy and Fame Were Synonymous

You would think that after you escape a murder conviction, you would go live a quiet and modest life.  And yet, that is not what Simpson sought to do at all.  The documentary showed a man that did what he could to stay in the limelight.  With his golden boy image tarnished, he appears to have embraced the bad boy persona he now has.  He changed his board room entourage in for a rougher crowd, made these off putting videos, did less to hide his party lifestyle, and gave the green light for a book to be written to detail what he would have done if he murdered his wife and Ron Goldman.  To him, he just knew he was staying in the press.  He clearly didn’t care what kind of attention he got, as long as it was attention.  The sad thing here, is that it seemed no one pulled OJ aside and said “hey, you might want to chill out and get some counseling or something.”

 

  1. The Love Affairs

I understand that what someone does behind closed doors is none of my business, but this documentary made me very curious as to what actually went down with Nicole Simpson and Marcus Allen.  For those that don’t know, Marcus Allen was a famed football player and friend/associate of OJ Simpson.  It was implied in the ESPN special, that Marcus and Nicole had some kind of romantic dealings with one another, and OJ knew about it.   In addition, OJ allegedly threatened Nicole if she were to continue dealing with Marcus.  This was a story that tapped into my curiosity.  Especially, because the only person that can confirm whether this affair actually happened, Marcus Allen, has never owned up to it.  Despite the fact that Nicole’s friends have hinted that it was true, and her diary also seemed to confirm the speculation.  Given the gruesome way in which Nicole was murdered, I’m inclined to believe there may be some truth to this rumor.  That OJ killed Nicole in a crime of passion.  Oh yeah I believe he did it by the way.

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