Opinion: Why do we still entertain O.J.?

June 18, 2019

“I’m not Black, I’m O.J.”

“OK.”

The lyrics from rap artist Jay-Z on his song, “The Story of O.J.,” are representative of the thoughts many have toward O.J. Simpson, a man who’s known more for his fall into obscurity than his periods of grace.

The song, released in 2017, reflects on Simpson’s attempts to leverage his notoriety to transcend the barriers of race. That message rings true, as Simpson has discounted the Black community throughout his career. Instead, he’s proven to be more concerned with building up his own image, seemingly favoring the acceptance of White America.

As an athlete, Simpson was indeed the golden boy of his era. He set all-time records in college at the University of Southern California and in the NFL, quite literally carrying the largely woeful Buffalo Bills franchise in his prime.

His status as a Hall of Fame-level pro athlete, paired with his charm and winning smile, garnered him his first commercial for Hertz Rent-A-Car in 1978. From there, Simpson would begin a career in Hollywood that expanded beyond his days playing football. With roles in films like “The Towering Inferno” and “The Naked Gun” series, he proved to be a box office draw outside his helmet and shoulder pads.

During the 1980s, Simpson was arguably at the peak of his superstardom. He was the man. The Juice. But in time, he would become the most feared man in Suburban America.

His trial for the double-murder of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson painted O.J. as a violently menacing man, which, at the time, was a far cry from the image he portrayed. After his acquittal in 1995, Simpson was blacklisted from the previous circles he commanded.

Still, Simpson remained in the spotlight.

Rather than drift from his fallen celebrity stature, he constantly attempted to revive his profile as a former Hollywood heavyweight. Tirelessly offsetting the negative marks aimed at him in the media, despite the endless bevy of stories and evidence against him.

And now, at age 71, two years after being released on parole for armed robbery in 2008, Simpson decided to step back in the spotlight again to detract from other’s stories and allegations. This time, on Twitter.

Now, I’ll ask the question I’m sure we’re all wondering: Why exactly is Simpson on social media? And of all apps, why Twitter?

OK, actually, I have a couple more questions.

Why does he think anyone is interested in what he has to say?

And does Simpson not see the number of people who dislike him? Not only for the murders of Goldman and Nichole Brown Simpson, who many linked to the case feel he committed, or his conviction from the Las Vegas incident over 10 years ago. It’s Simpson’s arrogance and the masks he’s worn to hide his thirst for the fame he once garnered.

Though, I admit, the man’s mystique is undeniable. TV-produced projects like FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson” or ESPN’s “O.J.: Made in America” have etched him into the mold of a Ted Bundy. Half his intrigue is the fact that, maybe, he didn’t commit the double-murder in 1994. The other half is that he did, and ultimately evaded the rigid grip of the nation’s justice system.

These projects also introduced Simpson to a new generation of skeptics and supporters who are drawn to his story.  Whether you despise his dual-persona or marvel at his undying positivity in light of the convictions set by the court of public opinion, people will always remain intrigued by him.

According to CNN, when Simpson first launched his Twitter account, he posted a video saying he’s “got a little getting even to do.” He continued, stating that he wants to “set the record straight,” in between him talking about sports and fantasy football.

Since Simpson made his Twitter account @TheRealOJ32, he’s gained over 700,000 followers in the last week. Though, surprising to few, he’s received hundreds of negative comments from social media hacks.

On Monday, The New York Post reported that Simpson threatened the owner of @KillerOJSimpson, a parody account that often alludes to allegations of his murderous acts. The owner of the page posted a video of the online altercation, which showed a video of Simpson allegedly reaching out on direct message and demanding the user take down the page. Then, after several messages between them, Simpson supposedly sent 16 knife emojis and a message with the words “I WILL FIND YOUR ASS AND CUT YOU.”

It’s unclear if the messages are legitimate, as Simpson nor his lawyer have addressed the matter. But let’s say it was Simpson. Considering his past, the idea of him responding to an unknown user’s antics isn’t too farfetched. Simpson’s lawyer or publicist — assuming he has one — should’ve prepared him for the battlegrounds of social media.

For a man that’s so enamored with his public image, he should’ve been heavily advised on what and what not to do. Possibly given a slight heads up about potential Twitter trolls attempting to gain their 10 seconds-worth of notoriety.

Through all the fanfare, the hate and the antics from people salivating at the opportunity to make Simpson bite on their foul comments, ultimately, the man wants to use Twitter as a means to switch his life’s narrative.

Between the videos Simpson tweets to his followers, saying how excited he is to finally join Twitter, one of his first efforts to debunk the media was addressing stories of him being the biological father of Khloe Kardashian. A rumor that’s long-circulated in Hollywood.

So, maybe his yearning for attention isn’t completely unwarranted.

Maybe his attempts at recapturing his past image aren’t actually crazed.

And with all the people who’ve told the mythical story of a man who was once atop the Hollywood food chain, who suddenly had White America pleading for his imprisonment, maybe he simply wants to tell his story.

Or maybe, he’s just being O.J.

Though, even with the appearance of his deceitfully cunning smile, he still has the charm that once captivated audiences. For some, it reminds them of his influence in the 1980s, and how the appearance of a Black athlete on TV and in film made a cultural impact, especially among Black males in America. And others just see it as another wasteful attempt to regain his celebrity.

His impact was minimized by his actions, as he accommodated to fit a mold absent of his racial identity. He wasn’t concerned with the Black struggle. In fact, he wasn’t even concerned with his own.

Rather than feeding into his communities, filled with people that have supported him through his two trials, he continues to disregard them. And now, rather than tackling more serious issues like prison reform, he wants to feed the public with ego-driven social media content in an attempt to his clear his tainted image.

Well, you’re a little too late, O.J.

Whether he realizes it, he’s just as oppressed as any other Black man in America. As an ex-convict, a man who was seemingly pronounced guilty before setting foot inside two courtrooms, he continues to ignore the barriers Black men like him still grapple with today.

Instead, Simpson continues to bask in his former glory, sadly remaining true to the falsified persona he’s built his entire life.

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