O.J. Simpson S Influence on Modern America
If you were alive and not living under a rock in 1994, you would have heard about it everywhere you went: on every news channel, magazine, and radio. O.J. Simpson was the #1 suspect in the malicious double murder of his ex-wife/mother of his children Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ronald Goldman in Nicole’s Brentwood, California home. Everyone had the same thoughts – could a charming, world-renowned football player like “The Juice” be capable of such evil? This was the first time such a big-time celebrity was accused of something as gruesome as premeditated murder. Although this case was headlining almost 25 years ago, it continues to affect our world today. Countless numbers of documentaries, books, and even a television reenactment series have been made in dedication to unpacking the case. The trial of O.J. Simpson brought racial tensions to light, shaped media and tabloid culture into what it is today, and created household names out of those involved with the case.
Police brutality is something that America still struggles with, especially with the Black Lives Matter movement on the rise over the past few years, which fights against systemic racism and police violence towards African-Americans. This mirrors the trial of O.J. Simpson in that Simpson’s lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, used racial prejudice as a way to help secure O.J.’s acquittal. Many people, especially in the black community, began to follow the narrative that the Los Angeles Police Department was just attempting to detain another black man. This was accelerated in light of the Rodney King riots of 1992, when Rodney King was beaten by a police officer in Los Angeles. To gain support for this idea, O.J.’s “Dream Team” attempted to persuade the jury (largely made up of people of color) against Mark Fuhrman. Fuhrman was a prime investigator in the case, but during the trial, taped recordings and files of him saying racist remarks were released. Cochran claimed that because of Fuhrman’s history of racism, the forensic evidence could have been tampered with. Outraged by this, many became convinced that the investigation was corrupted and biased against Simpson (Pattern 12). Springing racial profiling issues into the trial in order to disprove forensic evidence was a huge portion of why O.J. Simpson was let off as innocent. Although it is now widely accepted that Simpson was, indeed, guilty for the murders, the ideas behind the racial hysteria had reasoning behind them. The reputation of the LA Police Department was questioned as people asked: How terrible of an action does a police officer have to do to be punished for his actions? (Pattern 3).
Media outlets went into an uproar over the arrest of O.J. Simpson. Tabloid culture boomed as reporters gathered around the crime scene and courthouse to cover “the trial of the century”, as it was deemed. Every family member, prosecutor, lawyer, and anyone else involved was constantly harassed and pecked at by the media. All eyes were on the trial, catching every step (Synecdoche). When O.J. Simpson led the police on a low-speed chase, news channels had 24 hour coverage, even interrupting regularly scheduled programs to show footage. According to the Washington Post “Court TV and CNN had made the bold decision to cover every turn of the case no matter how meaningless,…never had one case been covered so continually” (Babb). Head prosecutor Marcia Clark’s reputation was severely tarnished after a tabloid magazine showcased a scandalous photograph of her on vacation prior to the case. This depicted the way in which women were beginning to be objectified and shamed in modern media. This continues to be an issue for female celebrities in the spotlight, which many have spoken out against. However, a majority of this media coverage was necessary, as it was in high demand. Every American wanted to be informed on the ins and outs of the case, which fed America’s growing obsession with pop culture, the personal lives of celebrities, and true crime.
The name “Kardashian” as we all know holds much more significance than one might think. What many people fail to realize is that Robert Kardashian ? the late father of Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe ? played a gigantic role in Simpson’s acquittal (Apposition). As an extremely close friend of both O.J and Nicole Brown, Kardashian genuinely believed his friend “The Juice” was not guilty of the murders – or at least that’s what he always stuck to until his death in 2003. Because he saw the good in O.J. (Anthimeria) and had a solid belief in his innocence, Kardashian renewed his law license to defend Simpson in court. Many journalists maintain that Kardashian knew the “truth” (or the idea that Simpson was in fact guilty), but helped to hide it. Robert and his ex-wife Kris Jenner’s association with the Simpsons got their names out into the media, which can be accredited with jump starting their empire in reality television. O.J. himself has also kept his spot in the media, not only for the 1994 case but for his year sentence time in jail after an armed robbery and kidnapping he committed in 2007 for nine years (Jacobo & Shapiro). In 2016, a miniseries from Ryan Murphy (director of American Horror Story) came out (Parenthesis), depicting the year-long journey from start to finish, suggesting that the public fascination with the case and those involved has never faded.
Even two and a half decades later, the trial of O.J. Simpson is still investigated and poured over. It seems as if everyone, regardless of age, wealth, or race, knows O.J.’s name and has formed an opinion on his verdict. It will stay relevant for years to come, as information is re-investigated and released. Since the trial was so captivating at the time of its occurrence, it is not surprising that it has continued to maintained legendary status in 2018. Racial issues, modern media, and America’s obsession with the people involved in the case like the Kardashians and Simpson’s modern life have allowed the case to stay alive. The trial of O.J. Simpson shocked the world and will remain unlike any other case in existence.