Last year, two of the best shows on TV were about O.J. Simpson. “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” was a blatant ripoff of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” It was a dramatic retelling of the trial, with Cuba Gooding Jr. as the titular NFL star. It also had David Schwimmer playing Rob Kardashian, making it feel like the most fucked up episode of “Friends” ever. The other show was “O.J.: Made In America.” Unfortunately, our boy David “It’s Hard Out There For A Schwimp” Schwimmer was nowhere to be found in that one.
This year, Dave Chappelle’s new special largely focused on O.J., using stories about the four times he met him to bookmark the entire performance. On Jay-Z’s recent album 4:44 the first single was “The Story Of O.J.” And a new A&E documentary about The Juice was recently announced. For a murderer, this dude is the most popular kid in school.
So why is America still obsessed with O.J. Simpson? It was announced yesterday that he’ll be released from prison later this year. He’s having a BYOB party at his place to celebrate because he somehow worked out a parole deal where he can smoke weed and drink alcohol as much as he damn well pleases, and we’re all invited. So I figured this is a good time to talk about it.
Obviously, his story is a fascinating train wreck. It’s perfectly tragic. He was America’s sweetheart until we found out he was a monster. His legacy is forever tarnished but we still keep talking about him like he’s our crazy ex-girlfriend from back in the day. “Hey, did I ever tell you about what O.J. did back in the ‘90s? Man, that bitch was crazy.”
But our obsession with him has come back in a big way. I think there are a few reasons why. One obvious reason is that race played a huge role in the O.J. trial, and it’s not a stretch to say that America has been going through a racially turbulent time. This may have made us break out the photo album and reminisce about past racial tensions like weird grandmothers.
Another reason is because the high profile nature of the trial played a role in the birth of reality TV. And don’t get me wrong, “alleged” murder is wrong, but creating reality television may be the worst thing O.J. has ever done. And the fact that a Kardashian was one of his lawyers was like God winking at us and foreshadowing what was to come, like the pretentious novelist he is.
Another reason might be the Bill Cosby situation. The parallels between O.J. and The Coz are endless. They were both SUPER wholesome. We all felt like Cosby was our father before we found out about his hobbies. They were both amazing at what they did. Bill was one of the best comedians ever and O.J. was a phenomenal footballer (is that a word?) and they both committed unspeakable crimes that left our jaws on the floor. And their legacies were redefined. When I was a kid, I didn’t even know O.J. played football, I just knew he was an “alleged” murderer. When the next generation hears the name Bill Cosby, they won’t think “comedian,” they’ll just know him as a psychotic creep/ pudding pop enthusiast.
So why can’t we stop talking about O.J.? Because we’re obsessed with celebrities. We’re obsessed with race. And most of all, we’re obsessed with a good story. And, for better or worse, O.J.’s story is one that’s impossible to look away from. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get married again and give us a sequel. Sequels are never as good as the original. It would be a shameless rehash of the original story, the “Hangover Part II” of murders..
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