Where Even O.J. Simpson Can Judge You

Where Even O.J. Simpson Can Judge You

2021-04-08 13:45:46
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"Creating a public image – that is, defining what 'OJ being' meant – had been Simpson's life's work," wrote Jeffrey Toobin in The Run of His Life: The People v. OJ Simpson, "his final report. Now that a racial majority of Americans believe he has committed a double murder, the parameters of Simpson's public image have been drastically narrowed, but he regularly uses those criminal allegations as the basis of a wink, a different kind of & # 39; OJ being & # 39 ;. This is not new: in 2006 he famously attempted to publish a book entitled & # 39; If I Did It & # 39; in which he discussed how he allegedly committed the murders – you know, if he had. (A bankruptcy court awarded the rights to the book to the Goldman family, who promptly captioned it "Confessions of the Killer".) Maybe I killed my ex-wife, he always says, and maybe not; anyway, I live my life and you are among the 900,000+ followers waiting to see what happens next.

An enduring slogan of Trump's presidency was, “ There's always a tweet '': the former president had posted so voluminous over the years that, regardless of his stance, you could easily find the evidence that he once claimed the opposite. But criticizing his hypocrisy lacked the basic emotional logic of tweeting. The point of posting this way is not to prove your intellectual consistency; the point is just to post. I believe that Simpson, who knew Trump, knows this intuitively, because it fits so naturally with the kind of fame he has been chasing for decades. He was a football superstar, but instead of retiring, he stubbornly pursued acting and endorsement, to make sure he would stay in the cultural consciousness as some kind of eternal Hollywood Square. Releasing Twitter monologues about wave conditions and climate change isn't exactly a shilling for Hertz, but it keeps your name out of that. And if Simpson continues, some people might actually forget how he got here at all. He'll have his detractors, yes, but his supporters, too, in the same relaxation as any modern celebrity – and a modern day celebrity is the only thing Simpson can be right now.

The point of posting this way is not to prove your intellectual consistency. The point is just to post.

In rereading Toobin's book today, one thing that stands out is the author's obvious disdain for Simpson. There are many references to his limited intelligence, his double-minded nature, his obvious guilt. At the time of the book's publication in 1996, this was a popular view: that Simpson had clearly done something terrible and got away with it. But time dampens all passions and creates new characters to fixate on. Last fall, Toobin accidentally exposed himself during a video call with his colleagues. He was eventually fired by his employer, The New Yorker, and derided across the political spectrum. Even O.J. got in on the fun. "Damn it, Jeffrey Toobin," he said in a short video. "At least Pee-wee Herman was in an X-rated movie theater." This was intensely corny, as answers go, but just imagine the humiliation of finding yourself in a position where O.J. Simpson can go viral by clowing your flaws. Some people got angry with him; Others said, "Stick it to them, Juice." For now, it didn't matter what he supposedly did. He was online and responded to the news, just like everyone else.


Jeremy Gordon is a Chicago writer whose work appears in The New York Times, Pitchfork, The Nation, and other publications. He last wrote for the magazine about the musician Beverly Glenn-Copeland.


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