OJ Simpson as Oedipus Rex


OJ Simpson spent 7 years in prison for kidnaping and theft in Nevada. When he was sentenced, many felt that justice had finally been done. Not only for his crimes in Nevada but for the murder of his wife Nicole Brown and her lover, Ron Goldman in 1994-for which he was acquitted. OJ died April 11th, in Nevada.

For those of you not old enough to remember the chase scene in LA, Americans stopped whatever they were doing and glued themselves to the TV screen as the white Ford Bronco cruised the LA freeways, while OJ was on the phone threatening to kill himself. (He would have done us all a favor if he had, but the the media would have lost its transformational moment.)

As the “chase” went on, crowds on the freeway were yelling “go OJ go”, the iconic line from his starring role in many Hertz car rental TV ads. In that ad, he was shown running through airports to quickly get into his rental car while other travelers shouted encouragement.

Media Miasma

From the moment the OJ chase was broadcast in real-time, media became addicted to reality TV. It was really made widespread by the advent of home camcorders, (America’s funniest home videos) then the huge leap came with the introduction of the Apple iPhone which made possible the taking of short videos anywhere, anytime by anyone, plus they could be easily uploaded to the new fangled website called YouTube. Viola’ the technology synchronicity was compete.

Network and Paddy Chayefsky

This real-time world was perfectly predicted in the movie Network written by Paddy Chayefsky, which was released in 1976. Chayefsky even predicted crime dramas that would be using real-life Black (BLM) activists, who were filmed planning crimes to bring down “the man” and then executed the crimes with the film crews positioned to capture the action on video for “news” broadcast on TV that night. The goal then, as it is now, was great ratings. Today, crime videos are ubiquitous on Tik-Tok, Twitter, Instagram and to a lesser extent, Facebook.

The Rotten Juice

Before his downfall, OJ had positioned himself very cleverly as a good looking Black star athlete who was non-threatening to the white community. By doing so, he was able to become a mainstream spokesman for Fortune 500 companies, a TV sports commentator and a so-so movie star. Then, he fell in love with 18 year old Nicole Brown who was white. The Black leaders who had fought hard for recognition and respect seethed because OJ got the benefits of the Black Power movement without lifting a finger. Too, Black women were incensed that he divorced a steadfast Black woman to to act more “white.”

Nicole Brown

By 1992 his no longer child-bride of 1985 was rebelling against his need for total control of her and his occasional beatings of her as detailed in her personal diary and calls to the police. He was always on the road and when home, spent more time with celebrity friends (who all loved him) than with the children. They divorced. The tumult continued in that they could never agree on visitation and Nicole’s insistence that he should be with the kids more often.

The trigger to OJ’s murderous rage came to the fore when Nicole started dating other men and allegedly, taunting OJ about them. Finally, OJ knifed to death Nicole and Ron Goldman, an innocent acquittance of Nicole’s.

Trial and Acquittal

I was working at a San Diego talk radio station (KOGOAM 600) as an on-air host when the OJ affair began. Our station decided to cover the trial wall to wall and I was on the air the night he was acquitted. Watching the entire trial convinced me that OJ would be acquitted not because he was not guilty, but because the LAPD looked like the keystone cops in their handling of evidence, lying about their racist statements, inconsistent timelines amplified by two incompetent prosecutors, Marcia Clark and Chris Darden.

Absent the best defense team in the world, and a lower profile killer, the state would have prevailed and gotten a guilty verdict-but this was OJ.

  • In 1997, a civil trial jury unanimously deemed Simpson liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages.

OJ as Oedipus Rex

The great Greek tragedy by Sophocles taught the audience that even though a man may think he is making every rational choice to lead a happy life, it can end very badly. OJ, is the modern day Oedipus-a king of sports, culture and celebrity who did everything to make his way in the “white” world only to be remembered primarily as a common murderer.

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