The epic downfall of O.J. Simpson will always be a cultural touchstone. How could you not be enthralled by watching Juice speed down the highway in his blood stained white Bronco, driving away from the police and his glossy Hollywood image? Everyone loves a good fall from grace story. The new ESPN documentary, “O.J.: Made in America,” examines the tragedy of Simpson's story through the lens of the country’s and specifically Los Angeles’ systemic racism.
The five-part, seven and a half hour series, directed by Ezra Edelman succeeds where many attempts at telling Simpson’s story have failed. It succeeds by showing the totality of Simpson life leading up to the death of his wife Nicole Brown, and the context of the times he lived through. Coverage of the murder trial doesn’t even begin to almost four hours in. By the time you see him court you understand what he meant when he said. “I’m not black, I’m O.J.,” and how Johnny Cochrane turned O.J. into a nationwide symbol of civil rights.
Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price joined Boston Public Radio on Monday to discuss this documentary and their views on O.J. Simpson. “It is a wonderful documentary. For something that is a five part installment, it keeps you each night; you want to see it,” said Irene Monroe.
During the infamous trial, the defense relied on the injustice and unfair treatment of the black community in L.A. to make Simpson a sympathetic character. The wounds of the Rodney King verdict were still fresh, making a story about a corrupt LAPD an easy and welcomed pill to swallow. “There was no sense of justice in any of the other scenarios. You felt like this case was the perfect opportunity for us to get a victory. I mean us in terms of the black community,” said Price.
By the end of the doc, you completely understand why people would feel joyous and vindicated over the trial’s verdict. “The acquittal starts to represent fighting the system and at the same time, momentarily black pride. It is for all the Emmett Tills who have been lynched in society,” said Irene Monroe. “O.J.: Made in America” is now airing on ESPN and can be watched on demand.
Listen to the entire interview with Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price above.