Traduce the Juice

April 16, 2024 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | CRIME, HISTORY, LIFE | 0 Comments |

O.J. Simpson

I was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on 3 October 1995, the day O.J. was acquitted (because no gloves fitted). The predominantly black staff at my hotel celebrated the verdict, high-fiving each other. On the other side of the country, Los Angeles gave both a huge sigh of relief and a squawk of anger and disbelief. Absurdly, the trial had taken on racial connotations because it seems that then, as now, it is impossible to view many awful events through anything other than the prism of race (or gender, although ‘Race beats gender’).

And celebrity beats everything. The best running back in the business that is American football, the face of Hertz and a myriad products on TV; supporting star in such ‘classic’ films as The Towering Inferno and The Naked Gun franchise, Simpson was a good ol’ boy who couldn’t possibly have carved-up his ex-wife (Nicole Brown Simpson) and her unfortunate friend (Ron Goldman) like so much mincemeat. It sure looked (and looks) that he did, but at the omni-shambles circus of a televised trial, the prosecution over-egged the pudding and tried to prove too much, fatally seeking to have Simpson try on the gloves suspected of keeping fingerprints off the murder weapon. The jury took 3 hours to find him not guilty. American justice remains an elusive concept.

It must have struck white Americans at the time, that such a bizarre verdict, so baffling to an onlooker, resonated a tad like black Americans felt when Rodney King‘s cops were acquitted for beating him to a pulp on video, or when southern juries let Klansmen off for lynching negroes.

As for the verdict itself, Charles Grodin had no doubts. He had a TV show at the time, and here he is struggling, striving, to find a silver lining:

Neither did Norm MacDonald on Saturday Night Live:


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