By Will Stevenson
I don’t know where you were, or what was going on in your life, but I was in a hotel room at a church conference watching it on CBS. Now I hadn’t known much about OJ Simpson, nor was I aware of his NFL career, but bits and pieces had trickled down to me through the news and tabloids (or the ones I could read in the grocery store while my mom shopped). Honestly, I didn’t even know of his collegiate career at USC. All I knew about OJ was he broke Jim Brown’s rushing record in a season, and that he left his black wife and kids for a white woman. I was only 11 at the time of the chase, but like many others, my outside view of this man was pretty narrow, and vague. The ESPN 30 for 30 was sure to clue me, as well as others on to why OJ Simpson was the man he turned out to be, and there was more to him than the chase, and a white woman.
You like that intro don’t you… Yep, I thought it was quite eloquent myself. I will attempt to keep it that way throughout this piece, as well as the others. I figured one blog would do justice, as the creators of the film didn’t think a 2-hour documentary would suffice for them. 10 total hours encapsulate this reviewed masterpiece, and I have completed 1.5 hours, or just Part 1 of the 5-part documentary. I thought about writing while I watched, but that would be a tad bit jumpy, vulgar, and instinctual, and that just won’t do. Some won’t watch because it’s OJ and its old news”. Some won’t watch because it has many race topics involved. Some won’t watch because they think he’s guilty of murder and got off. And others won’t watch because it’s 8 hours long. So… Here you go. Blog style.
Holy Bleeping Bleep Part 1 was incredible. I want to be as objective as possible, but I will not do so. I had no idea OJ was such a star at USC. The doc takes us through his time at USC, and I could care less about his performance on the field, it’s what happened off the field that intrigued me. Here was OJ, young, talented, a social force, with no power. Now you may say this was the beginning of his end, right there at USC. With the Civil Rights movement, the raised fist at the Olympics, and Mohammed Ali joined with the likes of Jim Brown and Bill Russell to fight the government against the Draft, OJ Simpson had the opportunity to do what others didn’t have the opportunity to do: Have the platform, have the love, have the recognition, and still shove it to the government for their treatment against blacks across the nation. Well, if you were to watch, you would see that not only did OJ not join forces with the movement, he distanced himself with the jargon that many of us here today by players in the media. Now honestly, many of you that read this would agree with OJ (I know you hate that). Why throw away your celebrity, in college, just for some black rights when you’re a black guy who has the privilege to do what he wants on a basic all-white campus. You’re actually a black man who doesn’t have to deal with those sort of racial issues, because you’re OJ… And as he says, “I’m not black, I’m just OJ”.
Now, I would like to take the time to go over something is important to me.
- Race is a created concept that originated in the 1500’s to separate slaves. You’re probably thinking “black slaves”. No, I’m not. I’m talking Caucasian slaves and Melanated Slaves. Slaves were grouped together as one entity, slaves. Once the rebellion ensued, something had to be done to simmer the tides, so they created, “white and black” as a race, and gave whites more privileges because they looked like those in charge. You may think this is biased, but this is the short version because this is a sports blog, but why not through you some knowledge in the process.
- OJ had no identity: In a perfect world, race would not be an issue. Before it was created, most identified by their country/ethnicity/culture and our language. So, a man with the skin tone of OJ, making nice in a white society at USC seems like bliss, right? OJ had choices. He looks at the civil rights and saw struggle, and he looked at the whites and saw success, the easy way. Now one might think, “well if being around white people keeps me in the line of success, why not take it?”. Well, for one, not all whites are successful, just as not all blacks are militant and poor. But, the theme throughout Part 1 was that the “white path” was the better path.
- I promise you it’s not all about race.
- Back to race.
Alright, back to the film. Another not so weird thing was that he was married by the time he arrived at USC, which was astonishing to me, but not really. Coming from Louisiana to California, a man needs something with him. Usually, you would leave your love at home while you go to college to experience life, but OJ arrived from a Junior college, and by the time he was on campus, they had been married for 6 months. I’ll dive into his marriage in Part 2.
With the increase in technology and media coverage, OJ Simpson was 10 times of what LeBron James was in high school. The way he had USC captivated was something I never thought existed back then. Bob Hope did a show at USC. With USC there was already a Hollywood setting and majority white, OJ Simpson was the one black guy that everyone knew; he was well spoken, nice, stayed out of trouble, and was there to cause any problems. I don’t know about you all, but that sounds a lot like some of the players in today’s. I’m not so fond of the PC, but OJ laid the groundwork for what White America loves to see it from its black athlete: Play the game, entertain us, and keep your mouth shut about those politics, because you aren’t paid to do that. I can’t be totally wrong, and that was in the 60s. Look at today. It’s still White America (white as in power, money, control, assets, land, companies, banks), that kind of white. Don’t confuse my words, I’m not calling it racist America… Today we have perpetrators of the agenda.
*Fast Forward in writing time*….
By his 4th season in the NFL, OJ was breaking Jim Brown’s rushing record in a season, rushing for 2,000 yards, and reclaiming the media love he once had at USC. OJ was the, most, influential, black athlete to be a pitchman. Now, what they were doing for those commercials was another story. They would purposely only put white people in the commercial, excluding OJ *allegedly*. That’s not race-baiting or conspiracy theory, that’s an actual fact. “You can be just like OJ if you act this type of way”. We all think it’s not like that in the industry, and in our sports world, but it is. Same in the 60s as it is now. And now more so than ever. You remember Allen Iverson’s tattoos being airbrushed off the cover of a magazine. Look at today, some companies still go by those rules. You must look, act, and conduct yourself in a certain way. Makeup anyone?
I say watch it for yourselves. I never touched on the quotes, the interviews, his childhood, or him meeting Nicole Brown. That’s what a documentary is for, to form your own opinion. And that’s what I’m here for; To get you to read about my opinions.
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