OJ: Made in America
What it's about: The finest of the 30 for 30s details the life of Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson, from growing up poor in the "slums" of San Francisco, to starring at USC, breaking NFL records, becoming the most prominent pitch man on TV — "Go, O.J., Go!" — and then tearing it all down as he is accused of the abuse and eventually the murder of his wife Nicole Brown, and of her friend Ronald Goldman. O.J. was acquitted thanks to his capable and often creative legal team, but despite his freedom, the legend became a pariah who could never enjoy the life he created. Years later he ended up in jail, where many felt he always belonged, on charges of kidnapping and robbery.
What it's really about: Race, celebrity, and identity, though it's obviously not that simple. O.J. was a reluctant African-American icon for decades, and once told sports sociologist Harry Edwards: I’m not black, I’m O.J. "His quest," Edwards adds, "was to erase race as the defining factor in his life." So it became the ultimate irony that his trial, along with the acquittal of five officers videotaped beating Rodney King a few years earlier, added to the racial tension of an already divided country. When the film explains how O.J. sought to embrace African-Americans that supported him during the trial, he does so with little to no understanding of what their culture stands for beyond stereotypes. He got his wish. He is just O.J., for all the good and the bad that label now includes.
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