Reflections on O.J.: Made In America

I felt like I had some profound thoughts while watching this movie but it must’ve just been the wine. Everything I wanted to say has already been said elsewhere on the internet.

First of all, it was interesting to see O.J. Simpson’s heroic rise in the sports world because being a child of the 90s I only ever knew him a disgraced public figure. First of all, this movie shows that his story is inseparable from Los Angeles in the second half of the 20th century.

The footage from the 60s through the 90s feels dated, as if everything has changed even though our society still wrestles with the same intractable problems. Race relations, police misconduct, wealth inequality, you name it.:

“What I want people to think about is that there’s more to think about,” [director] Edelman said during an interview in New York this week. “This isn’t a story that started in June 1994 and ended in the fall of 1995. It started in the 1960s and even before that. And it continues today.”

The Los Angeles Times

In the courtroom for the ‘trial of the century’, the disturbing rationale his defense team seemed to take is ‘given the climate and history of race relations between African Americans and the LAPD, does it matter if he killed his wife?’:

“Yet it is the subject of race, and how Simpson both experienced and refracted it, that is the documentary’s central narrative. Not the question of innocence — Edelman presents the evidence in a way that makes pretty clear he’s concluded Simpson committed the murders — but the significance of exoneration. “Made in America” offers the provocative implication that although the bulk of evidence points to Simpson’s guilt, the tide of black history and injustice may argue for his acquittal.”

But my sympathy lies with this amateur reviewer, who summarized the overall arc the narrative takes in the most pessimistic terms imaginable:

“The tragedy was not O.J’s, or even Nicole & Ron’s – it was the tragedy of a society slowly disintegrating – fault-lines growing between Blacks and Whites, Haves and Have-Nots, Celebrity Gods & Lawyer-Monsters and the rest of America – most of us just powerless onlookers while the Gods & Monsters play their power games with our lives. After an exhausting 8 hours, all I could feel was a deep sadness for what America has become.”

NYT Reviewer, Mari

As awful as it sounds it does kind of feel like that.


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