For many millennials, The People vs. OJ Simpson is just as much of a history lesson as it is a drama. As a teenager, it is hard to compartmentalize the weight of everything the trial encompassed- race, abuse, idolization, corruption, and deception. Growing up in the 90's, the biggest take away for a lot of us was the verdict and the white Bronco, not the raw emotions that mature adults felt during that time. FX is bringing back issues of the famous case with a hint of enhancement and a pinch of thriller- just enough dramatization to make us question: have we, The People, really grown to improvement?
1. Idols or Athletes?
The American way of worshipping athletes has only increased over the last 2 decades. Commercials- Endorsements- Social Media. Getting a glimpse into the glamorous lives of the modern man's hero. Dedication to your team has become a way of life. Believing in their shining stars to save the day has become a religious ritual. At what point did we put these humans on a supernatural pedestal? When was the last time you heard someone speak as highly of a loved one's talent as you do a complete stranger's? Today, kids know the names of quarterbacks before the presidents of the free world.
2. Shadowing Spotlight Abuse
"The Juice" can do no wrong on the field. Therefore, he would never do wrong off of the field. Right? The NFL has stepped up time after time to cover their players who abuse the rules. At some point, the league has decided they would rather pay a woman to keep quiet about getting hit than having the league take a hit themselves. These athletes can hide their "mistakes" if they continue to perform on Sunday- a great thing for wide-eyed young talents to observe.
3. The Race Card
OJ's team were the OG's at playing the race card. The show sheds light on white versus black and black versus white- the prejudice swings both ways. As a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, this so called "race card" hits hard. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a dispute over the Michael Brown case, I would have a generous donation to make to the implementation of the police body cameras in search of truth. We will never know what happened that day, just as we will never know what happened with OJ. When there are so few hard facts, the color of a man's skin somehow becomes a contribution to the evidence. Race has resurfaced as the driving force in the police force and justice was shoved into the backseat.
4. Legally Corrupt Deception
In the most recent episode, Johnny Cochran's character boldly states: "Evidence doesn't win the day. Jurors go with the narrative that makes sense. We're here to tell a story. Our job is to tell that story better than the other side tells theirs." What happened to telling the truth? It is called the justice system after all. The Avery family knows a thing or two about that. Netflix and chillers were outraged by the story told in "Making A Murderer". Viewers dug deep for their inner true detective to form stances about what justice or injustice happened in Manitowoc County. In both cases, a well-told story has found a way to trump justice. An enticing string of words can overpower the tragedies that led to the end of Nicole Brown Simpson, Ronald Goldman, and Theresa Halbach's young lives. Law School is supposed to be rigorous education on justice implementation, not a masters in literature or public speaking. Maybe that's the problem- justice isn't about truth but what appears to be true.
Next Tuesday, ask yourself- how far have we, The People, really come?