The best thing that ESPN produces is 30 for 30 documentaries and the best 30 for 30 is O.J.: Made in America. I find myself writing in absolutes recently but that doesn’t weaken the accuracy of my previous sentence. This film is better described as a docuseries consisting of 5 episodes lasting close to 8 hours. Despite its length it doesn’t feel bloated or stretched out like last year’s popular docuseries Making a Murderer. Ezra Edelman, the creator and director, tells a story that has been told and covered in the main stream media for 22 years that steals your attention. The unseen footage, facts and countless interviews of everyone involved tells a story not about OJ, but about race, crime, and American society.
Being an 8 hour film, I learned countless interesting facts about the life and trial of OJ Simpson. To avoid rehashing everything that I found interesting, I am going to focus on what I thought was the main point of the film.
As I watched this movie I did feel angry and sympathy for the black people living in L.A. at the time. The Rodney King beating, the murder of Latasha Harlins and the lack of punishment for the perpetrators resulted in unrest and eventually a riot. Black people were being treated unfairly and it was obvious. The riots were awful but I understood the reasoning behind them.
Once OJ was found not guilty for the double murder that he obviously committed black people celebrated everywhere. One black male juror raised his fist in the Black Panther solute. One black female juror explained in an interview for the documentary how she didn’t like the white prosecutor and the reasoning why the jury only deliberated for hours after a very long trial; they wanted to go home. She didn’t like the racist cop Fuhrman, and they basically let OJ off because he was black. That is not an unbiased jury who only takes the evidence into consideration. All of that, the jury, the celebrating, it undermined the criminal justice system and left the families of the two victims shattered. I was pissed. How could those people be so ignorant and heartless to let a murderer off because he was black? This crime is 22 years old and I have no personal connection to any of the people involved but yet I felt strong emotions due to the circumventing of justice.
As I continued to watch the film it explained how white people thought OJ was guilty and that black people thought he was innocent. Sure the police made many mistakes and one cop committed perjury, but all of the evidence pointed towards OJ. The defense team intelligently made the case about race and even compared the prosecution to Hitler during the closing statements. Then I heard one black person say “now you know how it feels.”
That is when it clicked.
Black people had been experiencing what I was feeling countless more times on a much more concentrated and personal level. They have been victims of the criminal justice system since they were considered free people. This time a black person won and it was the most public trial of all time. I still didn’t agree with it, but I understood it. After hearing many interviews by Ezra Edelman on various sports podcasts, I now understand at least is part, what he was trying to do with this movie. He was telling a story about race and issues in the United States with OJ being at the center of it.
This is a very small blurb and I wanted to write much more, but I won’t do the film justice by poorly writing all of the interesting facts from the film. Go watch it, regardless of your political opinions or core beliefs, you will enjoy it.