O.J.: Made in America (2016)

TV-MA   |    |  Documentary, Biography, Crime

O.J.: Made in America (2016) Poster

A chronicle of the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, whose high-profile murder trial exposed the extent of American racial tensions, revealing a fractured and divided nation.


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Ezra Edelman

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4 July 2016 | cherold
| Fascinating story plays like a Shakespearean Tragedy
At the time, I didn't understand the fascination with the O.J. Simpson trial. I remember the weird slow-speed police chase of the bronco, which was so peculiar that I couldn't stop watching, but after that I never watched the trial, or read news of the trial, because I barely new who Simpson was and I thought of it as just some salacious celebrity murder case. I had no doubt Simpson was guilty - I mean, he'd gone on the run and been chased down by the cops! - but I didn't have any interest in the process of his being convicted, didn't care about Kato Kaelin or Judge Ito, or any of that.

Then he got off, and it turned out that the case was a huge one about the shocking difference in how white and black America saw U.S. justice.

This documentary puts that trial in context. First, it explains why Simpson was so beloved, portraying his phenomenal sports success and his subsequent celebrity career. It also puts the trial in the context both of the Rodney King beating and of a case I'd never heard of where an Asian woman got no jail time for shooting a black girl in the back of the head.

For white people like me, this was a simple case of a celebrity who savagely murdered his ex. But viewed through the lens of a justice system that seemed built entirely for white people, the trial was something else entirely, and Simpson's pricey lawyers took advantage of that.

The full story of Simpson, from his glory days to his final fall, is like a Shakespeare tragedy, with a shining hero undone by his own darkness. It can also be seen as the story of a cold-stone psychopath who was given a pass for continually beating his wife simply because he was a celebrity with a winning smile.

An excellent documentary, and also a perfect companion piece for the recent TV miniseries, The People vs. O.J. Simpson: An American Crime Story. Between the two, I have now learned a great deal about a case I had no interest in while it was happening.

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