Coming Distractions


OJ GlovesProduction begins later this month on a ten-part FX Network series, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, with Cuba Gooding, Jr. playing The Juice. It’s from the producer of American Horror Story and based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book, adapted for television by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (The People vs. Larry Flint; Ed Wood.) Given the pedigree of the series, don’t be surprised if there’s an element of dark humor in this retelling of the 20-year-old “trial of the century”/media circus.

That anniversary date is the answer to the obvious questions “why this?” and “why now?” The project was commissioned before Ferguson, in case you were wondering. So no, this isn’t about prolonging our latest “national conversation about race.” (Do you hate that phrase as much as I do?). But it well may anyway.

I only watched occasional moments of the initial live television trial in the summer and early fall of 1996. Those of you old enough to remember may have a favorite telling moment you wish to share. The rules of televised trials prohibited the one camera angle that would have made the outcome more understandable: images of the jurors reacting.

I will watch this version, if only for the superb cast. Alongside Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Simpson are Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark; David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian; John Travolta as Robert Shapiro; and Courtney B. Vance (D.A. Carver in Law & Order: Criminal Intent) portraying Johnnie Cochran. “Eyes ablaze, full of blustering vitality” is how Toobin’s book characterizes Cochran. It will be fascinating to see what Vance, whose performances generally project a measured gravitas to match his exquisitely deep voice, does with Cochran. Don’t expect Jackie Chiles.

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson is anticipated for early 2016. Great, just what the primary season needs: more uninvited race talk infused into the popular culture. My view is that being prepared for media phenomena — even recycled ones, like this — is half the battle. Republicans don’t really track the popular culture as closely as they should, do they?

No surprise, therefore, that Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana Legislature were apparently taken by surprise last week by the confluence of their RFRA law and the NCAA media circus’ arrival in their state. Republicans just don’t have media calendars in their heads. Did you notice that the prime time series The Good Wife managed to air an episode on RFRA laws this past Sunday, right between the Final Four and the championship game, on CBS? Shows like this are scripted and shot weeks in advance. The episode may have been one of those polemical teaching moments we abhor, but they sure got the calendar right.

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson will end up constituting most of what many younger viewers know of the Simpson trial. I don’t know what will be included in the ten (42-minute) hours on FX. If the victims receive proper attention, it could give viewers a whole new take on the meaning of “social justice.” If it’s mostly about the lawyers, it could make some even more cynical about the profession — or maybe law school applications will rise. Today’s 12-24 demographic lives in an artificial media bubble, awash in celebrity culture and tabloid scandal. Perhaps they’ll watch because they see the name Kardashian, but come out learning a thing or two about the volatile mix of race, violence, media, and popular culture.

Twenty years later, what have we learned from the Simpson murder case?


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  1. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo

    Jim Kearney:

    Twenty years later, what have we learned from the Simpson murder case?


    We’re still obsessed with the same stuff.  Race, gender, celebrity, athletes.  Somewhere at the bottom of it all are two people who were brutally killed for whom no one will ultimately answer to the law and whose names are largely forgotten.

    And 20 years on the ratings promise to be too good for people not to want to do it all over.

    • #1
  2. Ricochet Inactive

    I was 15 when this trial took place, and still have vivid memories/psychic scars from watching hour upon hour of that ludicrous spectacle.  What a disgusting miscarriage of justice.  There is simply no way I would watch a movie version of the thing — one O.J. Simpson circus per lifetime is more than enough.

    • #2
  3. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.

    Courtney Vance, under appreciated.

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Member

    I remember watching a documentary on the OJ case, and I thought a couple of old black barbers in LA had it right: “The LAPD framed a guilty man.”

    Mark Fuhrman was one of the lead detectives on the case.  He claimed not to have been a racist, and never to have used the n-word — then the defense played audio of him using the n-word over 40 times.

    When asked if he ever planted evidence at the scene of a crime, Furhman took the Fifth.

    And that, my friends, is what we call “reasonable doubt.”

    • #4
  5. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney

    I’m glad the Michael Brown case never got before a jury like O.J.’s.

    Cases like the O.J. murders and Ferguson form a continuous, connected national media narrative. See that picture of O.J. — “the gloves don’t fit …” foreshadows “hands up, don’t shoot” — two lies in one picture.

    The “conversation” about race is really a series of narratives in the media.

    We don’t need a “national conversation about race” controlled by the Obama administration, the MSM, the mainstream academy, and the grievance industry.

    The truth about race comes from spokespeople like Larry Elder, Clarence Thomas, Jason Riley, Ward Connerly, Shelby Steele, Star Parker, Walter Williams, Ben Carson, plus honest, well-intentioned black liberals like Juan Williams and courageous white conservatives like Rudy Giuliani.

    Conservatives need to openly speak the truth about race, violent crime, drug, unwed parenthood, etc. or else the public “conversation” will continue to be dominated by the Left. So don’t let the left wing commentariat dominate media chat about the Simpson Trial TV series, for instance.

    And at least one of our presidential candidates should defend the police against the propaganda war they now face in our cities, in addition to the more ominous felony violence which they fight every day.

    • #5
  6. captainpower Member

    I haven’t listened to it yet, but it looks like the creators were interviewed by Adam Carolla (content disclaimer!) recently:

    Show Summary
    Adam opens the show complaining about guys who work in construction. Jo Koy is also in studio, and the guys listen to horrible holding music for conference calls. Adam then jumps to the phones to answer questions about the new Tesla, the new show Adam is developing, and hobos. Later, Black Lab shares his thoughts on Adam’s black lab, and the guys talk about the verdict of ‘The People vs. OJ Simpson’.
    Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski are in studio next, and they talk with Adam about at the success of the series ‘The People vs. OJ Simpson’. Adam asks them how much artistic license they had, and Gina and Bryan ask the guys a ton of questions about details from the show and real life case. They also talk about their latest project about Patty Hearst. Gina begins the news discussing the increase in minimum wage, a new Smithsonian museum dedicated to African American History, and China’s banning of April Fool’s Day pranks. As the show wraps up, the guys chat about Donald Trump’s latest target.

    • #6

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