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The People v. O.J. Simpson

Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson Ray Mickshaw/FX

<em>The People v. O.J. Simpson</em>
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Race. Wealth. Privilege. Corruption. Race.

The People v. O.J. Simpson: Twenty years ago America’s sins converged in one court case. FX and producer Ryan Murphy have done an excellent job entertaining and educating a new generation on why an aging football player and (accused) murderer split opinions in the nation regarding his guilt or innocence.

O.J. Simpson was a sports icon who made the difficult transition to commentator and media figure. Cuba Gooding Jr. looks nothing like O.J. but manages to play him as both warm and funny and a very angry man. The first episode introduces Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) as O.J.’s best friend. Kardashian painfully evolves from belief in his famous friend to doubt.

Based on the book The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin, the series deviates from the book and facts at times, but it is generally accurate. What it captures best is the racism in Los Angeles and in the Los Angeles police department that dominated reactions to the Simpson murder case. Two years before, a black man, Rodney King, was beaten by officers who were then found “not guilty” by an all-white jury, setting off some of the worst American riots of the last century. Many minorities looked at the overwhelming evidence against Simpson and believed O.J. was framed.

The series also demonstrates the power of celebrity and money in Los Angeles. O.J. received special treatment at every early stage of the crime because he was The Juice and had the juice. Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) is portrayed as overworked, competent, but perhaps out of her depth. Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) is a revolting character or at least Travolta plays him as a cartoonish celebrity lawyer. Travolta is the one weak link in the acting. Once again the victims of the murder, Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, are nearly forgotten.

Watch the series and discover how the evils of racism twist everything and how our love of the rich and famous made justice impossible.

John Mark Reynolds John Mark is a former WORLD contributor.


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